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Lord Hill Park Rocky Bald — May 2002

Ah May, when even the grouchiest souls crave ? flowers! No need to travel to exotic locales or admire exotic species. A visit to the rocky bald at Snohomish County?s Lord Hill Park will satisfy any flower craving.

Check out the December 2001: Walk of the Month for more details about the lowland forest and beaver ponds in this 1300-acre park. Plan on being charmed by lingering Trillium ovatum (wake-robin) blooms, Lysichiton americanum (skunk cabbage or swamp lantern) glades, Maianthemum dilatatum (false lily-of-the-valley), Hydrophyllum tenuipes (Pacific waterleaf), Claytonia siberica (candy flower), and all those saxifrages: Tellima grandiflora (fringecup), Tolmiea menziesii (piggy-back plant), and Tiarella trifoliata (foam flower) as you make your way beneath a canopy of second-growth Tsuga heterophylla (western hemlock), Thuja plicata (western redcedar), and Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir).

Walk the trail from the parking lot for 0.4 miles. Notice Oenanthe sarmentosa (Pacific water-parsley) in the water as you cross the boardwalks. At the T, turn left and follow signs for Beaver Lake and the Pipeline Trail. Turn right and walk uphill on the Pipeline Trail past the two entrances to the Temple Pond Loop, about 0.75 miles to a cutoff trail marked, ?0.6 miles Main Trail Cutoff.? Turn right onto the cutoff trail and look for an unnamed trail on your left that leads straight up an andesite rock outcropping to the rocky bald.

The observant botanist with good eyesight will find a few Asplenium trichomanes (maidenhair spleenwort) tucked in nooks in the rock, along with the easier to spot Polypodium glycyrrhiza (licorice fern). Flowers bring us to the bald, and the roots, rhizomes, bulbs, and corms of some of the blooms that delight us probably brought the first peoples who settled the region.

The Fritillaria affinis var. affinis (chocolate lily), otherwise known as rice root or ?Indian Rice? for its rice-like bulblets, is blooming now; the steamed or boiled bulbs were eaten by the Coast Salish and nearly all interior Salish groups. In June, the bald will be white with the flowers of Brodiaea hyacinthina (fool?s onion) and, fooled or not, the corms were eaten. A white umbel blooming all over the bald now belongs to Daucus pusillus (American wild carrot), and despite its common name, it probably was not eaten, as it is an annual with only a tiny taproot. The ?wild carrot? of the bald that probably was eaten is Perideridia gairdneri (Gairdner?s yampah). All you will find of it this month is the foliage, as it doesn?t bloom until summer, when the plants were marked to be dug the following spring before the foliage emerged. Even Lewis and Clark enjoyed anise-flavored yampah.

We all enjoy berries, and both Fragaria vesca (woodland strawberry) and F. virginiana (wild strawberry) are blooming now. So are Gaultheria shallon (salal), Rubus ursinus (trailing blackberry), and lichen-encrusted Amelanchier alnifolia (saskatoon or serviceberry).

Food for the eyes (and pollinators) are the candy-pink blooms of Plectritis congesta (seablush), diminutive catsup-and-mustard flowers of Mimulus alsinoides (chickweed monkeyflower), orange trumpets of Lonicera ciliosa (orange honeysuckle) with very possibly a nectar-feeding Anna?s hummingbird hovering, and downhill a bit, the white saucers that are the showy bracts of blooming Cornus nuttallii (western flowering dogwood).

If the skies are clear, you can look out to views of Mt. Rainier, the Cascades, the Olympics, the Snohomish River and its valley, and cars creeping along on highway 522.

This is probably the only rocky bald in Snohomish County, and it is as fragile as it is rare. Please tread lightly as you visit this special place. Keep group size to a maximum of 10 people and avoid the temptation to botanize every precarious inch.

No need to retrace your steps on the way back. Many a pleasant loop will take you to the parking lot. Be sure to grab a map before you start. Expect mud no matter what the weather for this moderate, approximately 5-mile hike.

Directions: From Snohomish, follow 2nd St. east to Lincoln and turn right. This becomes the Old Snohomish-Monroe Highway. In about 2.5 miles, turn right on 127th Ave. SE and drive another 1.6 miles uphill to the park entrance on the left. From Monroe, take the 164th St. exit from 522 and head west on Main St. toward Snohomish. This too becomes the Old Snohomish-Monroe Highway. Drive about 2 miles and turn left on 127th Ave. SE and proceed as above.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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