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Meadow Creek Trail, Skykomish — September 2008

By Dan Paquette

If you were probably delighted to see that first lush patch of some native plant gone from sight for much too long. That was how I felt on the Meadow Creek Trail, Northeast of Skykomish as I beheld anew lush stands of Boxwood and Wild Ginger. In the following description of this hike, all page numbers refer to Pojar and Mackinon’s Plants of the Pacific Northwest unless otherwise noted.

The Meadow Creek trail begins by zigzagging up a moderate valley slope draining into Rapid River. The conifer canopy is relatively new growth. Occasionally a large burnt stump suggests what was once here. The ground is often colored with the green of violets and the satisfying textures of Pachistima myrsinites (Oregon Boxwood, p.95). I stop and study the hairy growth on the leaves of Hieracium albiflorum (White-flowered Hawkweed, p.273). The plants are spaced out sufficiently for me to imagine them as street lights for slugs. And because I’ve gone over to the small side, I must mention a small rock covered in orange and gold right in the middle of the path. The moss is Ptillium crista-castrensis which resembles the greener Hypnum subimponens (p.469)

Stop and look around a bit where the trail crosses tiny streams. There are lush patches of Pathfinder and Wild Ginger. Note the leafy Plagiomnium ground moss at the second stream. Tucked away in its vicinity are Claytonia siberica (Siberian Miner’s Lettuce, p.133) and Montia parvifolia (Small Leafed Montia, p.132). As you rise higher you will occasionally catch a view of the Rapid River Valley, and perhaps you will see morning clouds pushing their way eastward.

After about a mile and a quarter, the trail turns to follow the Meadow Creek Valley. Tall snags are frequent in the valley below. Pteridium aquilinum (Bracken Fern, p.420) and Mahonia nervosa (Oregon Grape, p.95) give way to Vaccinium alaskaense (Alaskan Blueberry, p.36) and Vaccinium membranaceum (Black Huckleberry, p.37). Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry, p.320) covers areas upslope like a hundreds of green campfires.

The trail enters an area where large conifers have survived and small numbers of Western Hemlock, Mountain Hemlock and Douglas Fir remember events before covered wagons. After ascending a short distance, the vegetation opens up and you can look across the valley to the firs and Vaccinium covering the opposite valley slope. Along the trail are the red bracts of Castilleja hispida ( Harsh Paintbrush, p.258) and possibly Lupinus argenteus (Hitchcock, p. 267). We’ve come about 2 miles.

This is where I turn around. For additional information on this trail, consult Green Trails Map 144 and look for Trail 1057. There’s also a brief write-up in the Mountaineers’ Exploring Washington’s Wild Areas. To reach this trail, travel east on Highway 2 and note the Skykomish turnoff. About a half mile further, you’ll see a road intersection sign which is for Beckler Road. This will be a left turn. Follow the road (also called FS 65) and after the payment ends, watch for two roads on your right. Of these two, take the left road (6530). After about 3 miles, start watching for the trailhead. Slow down for the bridges as the bridge surfaces are often a few inches higher or lower than the road surface. Be sure to display a Northwest Trails Pass in your car window.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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