Area: Middle Fork Snoqualmie

Length: 6.2

Elevation: 1170 +780 -150

Condition: varied, brushy, mostly stony

Solitude: minimal

Appeal: varied, mostly low

Features: river bars, waterfalls, historical

Difficulty: easy except rough tread

Trailhead: Taylor River

Connects to: Marten Lake     Snoqualmie Lake    Nordrum Lake
    Blethen Lake     Dream Lake

Guides: 100Alp, ALWsm, BPWsm

Maps: Green Trails Mt Si + Skykomish;
USGS Skykomish



This is another trail with a troubled history. Once a busy logging road intended to wipe out every tree from North Bend to Skykomish, loss of a major bridge left it almost inaccessible for long years. By the time some access could be restored, things had changed, and most areas besides the well-scraped river valley were under the protection of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The road was never maintained again, and at 1/2 mile from the last Taylor road bridge, it was closed off permanently, gradually allowed to settle into a new role as an unlikely trail in a protected watershed. Though things are changing, you will observe numerous areas with residual logging damage: spur roads, stumps, hardwoods where vigorous evergreens once stood, gravel washes in what was once a narrow river channel. However, if you know where to look, there are perhaps enough interesting places to keep your attention. There are lots of great places to go from here.




Take the Middle Fork Road to the Taylor River trailhead. Go to the end of the lot and pass the permanent gate (that keeps out the motor traffic, except for exceedingly rare traffic to inholdings on Quartz Creek). Follow the obvious forest road. In the first 1/4 mile, look on the right for a side track that crosses a wet depression — crossed easily on big rocks — and take a look at the falls, only 5 feet or so high, but rather impressive for such a small river. Uncatchable well-educated trout circle in the pool below. Back on the road again, in the next 1/4 mile, the Quartz Creek mining/logging road curves left, but stay right and find the true trailhead.

It was all road once, allowed to degenerate mostly on its own into a trail of sorts. The tread is firm and plenty wide, and open for bicycle travel. Bicycles are rarely found here, however. The rough cobbled tread is enough to teach the meaning of black and blue to even the most boisterous and inconsiderate yahoos. Speaking of yahoos, I've taken a bike on this trail myself, and saved myself 20 minutes for reaching the Snoqualmie trail junction. After my keister recovered, I decided it wasn't the best idea.

At 2.0 miles, there is a secondary siding road that angles downward to terminate abruptly at the river bank. There is a brushy side path on the left leading to the water. In late summer, when water levels are low, the shallow river bed here typically makes a safe wading pool for kids, and there is usually a pleasant sand and gravel bar awaiting on the other side. But the river is fickle, and conditions change from season to season.

At 3.0 miles, reach the rebuilt Marten Creek bridge. Once an impressive wood structure with massive timbers, the deck boards were beginning to rot dangerously, and a modern but undistinguished new foot bridge was put in to replace it. About 50 yards before the bridge, a rude unmarked side trail takes off uphill toward Marten Lake.

At 3.4 miles, the trail dodges washouts at Otter Creek. The stony notch below the big steel culverts provides a reasonable route down to the river in late summer times when water levels become very low.

For the main show, go 80 yards beyond the creek, looking left under overhanging brush for a subtle but clearly foot-pounded path up to Lipsey Lake (puddle) and the impressive wall of "Otter Slide Falls."

Approximately 1/4 mile further, there is a wide spot on the right. Peering behind the first row of salmonberry bushes, you will see a very large boulder that I call "Split Rock." In fact, you can see the huge diagonal gash where this monster rock broke on impact when it fell into its current location. Pass through the brush to the left of the rock, to find an old siding road heading toward the river. Shortly, it becomes an unmaintained side trail. At the end is a tiny camp and access to an extended gravel bar.

At 5.0 miles, the main trail reaches a concrete monstrosity, a two-lane truck-ready logging bridge, completed in the 1960s before flood damage made the entire valley inaccessible.

The Big Creek Falls, suggestive trickle or a gushing roar depending on the season, can be viewed from the bridge. Most day hikers eat lunch here and then start their way back to the Taylor trailhead.

For the few who pass further, the trail becomes more quiet and smooth, and a lot more enjoyable, reaching the Snoqualmie Lake junction at 5.8 miles, and the Nordrum Lake junction at 6.2 miles.