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Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Trail — November 2002

By Brenda Senturia

(Note from Fred Weinmann: Although the Middle Fork Snoqualmie hike was described by B. Senturia for June, 1998, it is an excellent hike in the fall as well. Very nice fall colors last through November and lots of different species of moss have perked up following the rains. Notice particularly the Sphagnum moss on the vertical rock faces near the beginning of the trail. I have a plant list for this hike developed on a hike in late October. It is available as an attachment in WORD format by sending an email to fredwcrx@aol.com.)

It is possible to hike the trail along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River almost any time of year. At an elevation of about 1400 feet, it is only in periods of low elevation snowfall that the trail might be impassable. However, many wildflowers are in bloom in late April and May. The trail meanders along the Snoqualmie River for 6 1/4 miles one way. Rock faces are often visible through the trees. There is very little elevation gain between the trailhead and the trail junction to Dingford Creek. Mosses and lichens cover the trees, creating a rich, deep green landscape.

From the parking lot kiosk, the trail heads across the Middle Fork on a sturdy bridge and then bears left, following the river floodplain. In the first section of the trail, ferns and liverworts abound. I have seen eight species of fern along this trail: Deer Fern and Sword Fern in abundance and also Wood Fern, Maidenhair Fern, Licorice Fern, Bracken Fern, Lady Fern and Oak Fern along the way. There are blankets of Snake Liverwort in damp spots. Western Hemlock is the dominant tree species in the coniferous areas a few hundred feet from the river. On the floodplain close to the river, Red Alders dominate. Evidence of former logging of large trees many years ago can be seen along the trail. The ‘feel’ of the vegetation, however, is that of mature forest. Salmonberry, Thimbleberry, Devil’s Club and Red Huckleberry are the dominant shrub species. Youth-on-age, Bunchberry, Creeping Raspberry, and Evergreen Violet are common in the understory. Skunk Cabbage and Devils’s Club are found in the moist seeps. Trillium and Pacific Waterleaf bloom in abundance in spring. Wild Ginger is found along the trail. After staying alongside the Middle Fork for a short distance the trail heads to slightly higher ground. At 3+ miles, the trail returns to the edge of the River. There are places to scramble down to the water. Watch for American Dippers working the river - flying up and down, feeding on the rocks and in the water. The trail keeps close to the bank for about 1/2 mile. There are excellent lunch spots along this section. The trail then leaves the riverbank and goes to higher ground via a few easy switchbacks up a hundred feet or so and continues for 1 1/4 miles to a bridge and beautiful cascading waterfall (about 5 miles from the trailhead). In another 1 1/4 miles, you reach a signed fork in the trail (Dingford Creek, Middle Fork Rd.) - a good place to turn around.

This is a relaxing, serene hike in a beautiful river valley. There are occasional views of the surrounding mountains. Despite the many wooden bridges and boardwalk sections, you can count on very muddy feet during the rainy season. There are a few fallen trees across the trail which have not been cleared as of this writing. A recent treefall (1998) necessitates a 200 ft. detour via a makeshift track. Hopefully, this will be repaired in the near future. This trail is excellent for a family outing, especially if young ones can make the 3+ miles to the River’s edge.

To reach the trailhead, take I-90 east to Exit 34 (Edgewick Rd). Cross to the north side of I-90, pass through the truck stop area and soon turn right on SE Middle Fork Road. At the junction with Lake Dorothy Rd. (< 2 miles from I-90), take either route (they rejoin in about a mile). After about 2.5 miles from I-90, the paved road becomes gravel. There are some potholes, but the road is easily driveable with a 2WD vehicle. Continue until you have gone about 11.5 miles from I-90 and turn right into a large gravel parking area. Allow a generous hour to drive to the trailhead from Seattle. The trailhead begins near the information kiosk. There are facilities at the parking lot.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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