Not for the savings bonanzas or the ol’ fashioned tramplings, nor for the buyer’s remorse or the last item on the shelf fist fights.
No, like many of us I worked, but #Optedoutside the minute I got out!
Didn’t have a lot of time, with the sun being so stingy in these winter months, so a short walk to Franklin, WA, an old coal mining ghost town fit the bill.
Eh, it’s got a spooky ol’ cemetery anyway. Who needs light when you have ghosts?
We parked at the small cemetery along SE Green River Gorge Rd. and began our walk.
Someone has done a lot of work to improve the road heading up to Franklin. What has historically been a muddy grade now has a new layer of gravel on top of it.
The trails have been liberally brushed, and some sites that I hadn’t seen in a decade of visiting this place have been cleared of vegetation.
A heartfelt “Huzzah!” to the volunteers and their efforts!
We reached the graveyard after the sun had disappeared beneath the horizon. No ghosts, but plenty of ambiance.
Heading back we encountered some people who decided that dropping a road flare down the 1300′ mine shaft would be a good idea. We were just in time for the show.
The flare erupted in a magnesium flash, brilliantly contrasting the decaying twilight.
Within seconds it was gone, screaming it’s way to the bottom. A robust slap announced it’s arrival with mine’s icy waters.
Darkness. Then inexplicably a light began to flicker from the ghostly depths. A menacing glow struggled to life.
Looking down the stygian pit, pulsating red with sulfurous smoke, it really was a vision of hell.
After the flare burnt out we ambled back to the car, both of us the better for #optingoutside…
Then promptly #optedforthriftshopping at the Goodwill where I got a couple of nice merino wool sweaters, 50%off!
Head to the center of Black Diamond, WA. Turn east on Lawson Street (There is a Los Cabos and a Cenex station at the intersection) this road will change names a number of times.
Continue on this road for about 3 miles then start looking for a small graveyard on the east side of the road. This is probably the best parking available. Hike south on the road to a gated off area. This is the trailhead.
Did you ever happen to catch The Prisoner? If you are an American I’m guessing probably not.
I happened to have a grandma who was hooked on BBC shows. Consequently I was just as likely to be sat down in front of Monty Python as I was Sesame Street.
Anyway, on the show The Prisoner there was this strange white orb called The Rover. It kept the prisoners from escaping “The Village” by incapacitating them, I seem to recall that it could even kill people.
It made an impact on me as a kid, and the bizarre thing continues to dwell somewhere in my psyche.
Then one day driving down the Hwy 410, there it was. Looming white in contrast to the stately evergreen blanket beneath it. What was the Rover doing here in real life? and in Washington State?
I decided to do some internet research…and then the story got a little weirder.
Turns out that the mysterious white orb was a “gap-filler” radome built during the cold war to detect low flying Soviet Bombers. While that’s not incredibly remarkable, the fact that it is even there may be…
On paper the thing was planned, but never built. Yet there it is, boldly standing in defiance to it’s own non-existence along the Hwy 410.
According to the information I found, the site’s ID designation was to be P-1B
I was also able to get my hands on a current flight planning map, on which it is simply marked as ‘radome’.
Bond villain hideout
The site is hemmed in with barbed wire topped chain-link and to add a little bit to the mystery, the private property signs are completely devoid of any information as to identity of the operators.
An L-shaped building with blacked out windows is also within the fenced area.
Numerous security cameras watch your every move with silent vigilance. A tin foil hat might help keep them out of your thoughts.
Honestly if I were to guess I’d bet this is a Boeing site, but admittedly I base that on very little.
Firstly they are the largest aviation company in the area. (…and the second largest defense contractor on the earth.)
Two-stly, the private property signs look very much like the ones posted around Boeing property.
Shaky? Maybe, but I think it holds up to Occam’s Razor better than Bond Villain nightclub staffed by Aliens. (But I want it to be so badly!)
THIS TRIP MAY BE ON PRIVATE PROPERTY, but…
So far as I could tell there is no legal reason you cannot visit the area, so long as you do not attempt to enter the enclosure itself which is clearly marked as private property.
The Hancock gate at the bottom does not state that a Hancock Forest Pass is required for walk-in entry, but this could be out of date, or subject to change at any time.
Know before you go. Trespassing is trespassing, and usually moreso if you are being a general nuisance.
If you are driving SE on the SR 410 during the daylight hours, you will probably notice this thing hanging out on top of the hills north of the highway.
You’ll have to deduce which logging road you will have to take to get you up to the thing. The correct one has a rather large open area to park, and past the gate, starts climbing immediately.
If you get to Federation Forest, you’ve driven too far. (but Federation Forest is another great place to go roaming around!)
When walking up the logging road there are a couple of intersections, when in doubt, stay right.
As always, PACKITINPACKITOUT!
Oh, and if you ever plan to have children, don’t hang around this thing too long.
If you are driving down the I-90 and spending more time looking out the window than on the road, McClellan’s Butte is hard to miss. It’s the big rocky spire, sorta looks like the Matterhorn from some angles.
Anyway, most rubbernecking hikers probably fall into one of two camps:
A: Man! I gotta climb that thing!
B: There is no F$%#ing way you’d catch me up there!
Well guess what? Ol’ Mac’s Butte is a win-win!
The prominent rocky spire doesn’t disappoint those looking for an airy scramble, and allows some decent bragging rights the next time you’re rubbernecking down the ’90.
Alternatively, if exposed scrambling isn’t your thing, the Butte provides a challenging enough hike and great views from a slightly less lofty perch just below the imposing monolith.
Distance:9-12 miles RT
Elevation gain:3700′ ft (1128m)
Difficulty:YDS-1 hike, YDS-3-4 scramble
Licks to get to it’s center:The world may never know…
McClellan’s Butte is named for General George B. McClellan, a civil war era general and moustache aficionado which history seems to hold in mixed regard.
In 1853, George was here in the Washington territory surveying possible routes for the coming railroad.
Ultimately, he came to the conclusion that Yakima Pass near Tinkham Peak would be the best option for the rails, however no one else of consequence shared his opinion and Yakima Pass was never used.
McClellan’s efforts were however recognized, and his name was bestowed upon the butte, perhaps, some speculate, due to their uncanny resemblance.
Later Ol’ George even made an unsuccessful presidential bid against the incumbent President Abraham Lincoln.
In the end McClellan died of a heart attack in Orange, New Jersey at the age of 58.
We start out just off the Tinkham Road exit on the ’90. The trailhead is just a little way south of the interstate up a dirt road.
(There does however exist cheaters parking area further along the FS 9020)
The trail briefly winds along through forest, then beneath power lines, meandering along old grades. Early along there is a split, either way you’ll end up at the John Wayne Trail (Old Milwaukee Road)
Heading west at the split along an old grade will take you along the “official” trail.
Reaching the Milwaukee Road, you’ll likely hear Alice Creek to your left and might see a bicyclist or two scoot on by, to continue up the butte trail, look to your right.
It’s within this next section that one can find the “old” trail which ambles past the Alice Claim , where one can view a handful of mining relics from an earlier era.
The next grade crossing is that of the FS 9020 (the cheaters parking area), not a lot to see here but a gravel road, and usually some parked cars. Press on!
You may have noticed by now that there are some pretty impressive trees along the trail. Somehow these giants were spared the lumberjacks unforgiving sawblade, while their less fortunate brethren are now only massive stumps.
These are some of, if not the largest trees along the ’90, so feel free to plop your butt down and view them with reverence and awe.
The trail now begins to climb, and soon, at about the halfway point, the next and most dangerous landmarks will appear…
THE AVALANCHE CHUTES
As is evident from the lack of trees (or most anything but rock and snow) avalanches regularly thunder down these gullies when conditions are right for it.
Avalanches don’t always happen when you might expect!
Even during a nice, sunny spring day, so long as there is snow in the upper reaches, a slab of white death can break off and before you can say “Kalamazoo!” you’re history.
Avalanches aside, these gullies can also be dangerous to cross for the unprepared as when they are snow filled they can be extremely steep.
Furthermore they can be undermined by flowing water and a simple posthole could potentially put you in the drink, or worse.
Carry the right gear, and know how to use it.
AHEM, BACK TO THE HIKING…
So after the avalanche gullies, the trail continues up and up.
Eventually you’ll round the south end of the ridge and sparse views of the FORBIDDEN lands of the Cedar River watershed will appear.
The trail does a large sort of U-Turn and soon you’re traversing the west side of the ridge.
(Note: this is a good place to jump off trail if you wanna scramble the whole ridge)
Here is a nice pleasant respite from the singularly upward direction of the trail prior to this, and with westward views and mountain meadows to boot!
Soon you’ll find yourself passing below the large rock walls of the ridge before turning upwards, just below the summit block itself.
A steeper rocky section of trail is the last little bit to conquer before finding yourself at the landing beneath the imposing, monolithic block that is Ol’ Mac.
As you will certainly see, the block is pretty exposed.
Climbing out onto it, you might think that exposed is an understatement when you discover that the block essentially terminates into oblivion, and any resultant falls from here would likely result in death, or worse.
Stay within your comfort zone, this isn’t a place to screw around.
That being said, the block isn’t technically difficult, and affords many hand and footholds that have been tried and tested hundreds of times before. (Never hurts to double check)
I read somewhere that at one time there existed an aviation navigational light at the top of Ol’ Mac, part of a system of lights that guided aircraft to Seattle.
In those times there was also a handhold and more of a path to the top. (At the moment my book collection is in storage, so I’ll get back to you all about the specifics)
Along the scramble you can occasionally spy remnants of those days etched into the rock.
Once on the top you’ll be handsomely rewarded for your efforts (weather permitting) as you are standing upon one of the best viewpoints along the I90.
360º of unobstructed views!
In Cascade Alpine Guide vol. 1, Beckey describes a couple different routes;
One of them is ascending to the summit ridge via the upper south slopes by way of the second avalanche gully as a moderate winter or spring snow climb.
This one I can vouch for, as a couple friends and I took it one spring without knowing it was really a route. The slopes here are steep, but if you keep your wits about you, the ascent to the ridge is a piece of cake. Some light class 3 scrambling is the worst of it.
Keep in mind however, there are a lot of loose rocks, and you are climbing directly above a fairly popular trail.
Another is the East Spur, which I gather is essentially taking the first avalanche gully directly to the summit, I’ve looked at it and intend to give it a try someday, appears to be a long class 2-3 scramble.
The NORTH BASIN is more of a climbing route, popular when the basin is snow filled. I have read that the rock near the upper reaches is pretty loose and crumbly and may have been a factor in a 2005 fatality along this route.
McClellan’s Butte has a little something for everybody, and while a popular destination, thus far never seems too crowded.
Besides the summit block, the entire trail is YDS class 1, however, McClellan’s Butte, or any mountain should never be taken lightly; Steep Slopes, avalanche chutes, and George McClellan’s ghost are just a few hazards one may encounter while treading upon it’s flanks.
There is often water available along the route, so bring a filter etc and fill up along the way.
Anyway, be prepared, leave it better than you found it, see ya there
Take exit 42 West Tinkham Rd. and head south, you’ll pass a WSDOT facility and a gated road on your right before coming to another road veering up and right to the trailhead. Sometimes this is signed, other times not. Either way it is a very short drive from the freeway offramp, so if you can’t find it, you probably went too far.
Currently a NW Trailpass is required for parking.
Beckey, Fred, Cascade Alpine Guide vol.1 Columbia River to Stevens Pass. The Mountaineers Books, 1973
Growing up here in Washington it seems like there were always woods just around the corner to explore. Many days were spent roaming the woodlands with a stick sword in hand, and a pocket full of pinecones with which to fight the perpetual pinecone war that raged throughout my youth.
The local wetlands were like our own private Amazon jungle in which we captured treefrogs, pollywogs and garter snakes for our pickle jar menageries.
In one large tract of forest nearby my cousins house in Lake Stevens we even found an old cabin and a machete!
That rusted old blade was like Excalibur to us!
Anyway, nowadays most, if not all of those places I knew are gone, paved over in the name of progress.
Suburbs, strip malls and shareholder returns have replaced ferns, swamps and Douglas fir, and some of those developers had real senses of humor. A little swamp where we used to cut cat-tails at, was filled in long ago and replaced by a development called “Starlight Pond”, seriously, you can’t make stuff like that up!
Well before I go too far on a rant…..
Once in awhile someone had the foresight to set aside some of these suburban wildlands for future generations to enjoy, and one of them I recently discovered is McGarvey Park Open Space.
McGarvey Park offers over 400 acres of open space with miles of trail though various terrain and ecosystems. Not only that, but the park also offers a “summit” of sorts; Cedar (Echo) Mountain coming in at a modest 896′.
The park is also home to much wildlife, during my visit I was serenaded by a multitude of bird species and there always seemed to be a chorus of frog song somewhere in the distance. At one point a pair of red-tailed hawks screeched as they soared high above.
Many small streams cross the property, with the occasional little bridge spanning the distance.
The area is abundant in a variety of flora as well, from mixed conifer forest, alder dominated wetlands, and everything in between.
The area was logged a few times spanning the late 1800s, the 1930s and the 1960s, and because of logging/reforestation practices of those times, not many of the conifers are particularly old. However a few old timers do exist here and there.
Another result of reforestation practices of those times (or lack thereof) is that certain overall forest characteristics are a bit unbalanced, but King County is working hard at trying to remedy this over the next few decades.
Also of historical interest was McGarvey Park’s coal mining past. The New Black Diamond Mine operated here from 1884 to 1939. Certain portions of the park are underlain with long disused tunnels, but these are not accessible and do not pose a threat to public safety. Initially my only clue to coal mining here was along one section of trail where bits of coal were visible along the grade.
Perhaps the biggest attraction of McGarvey Park is the Cedar (Echo) Mountain summit. While only standing 896′ above sea level, it provides a lovely view of Mt.Rainier and peeks at Lake Desire when climbing up the western flank. This would make a great first “summit” for those just getting into hiking or for kids.
Trails also wind around the NE summit of Cedar (Echo) Mountain, offering views of the Issaquah Alps, but the actual high point is never reached by trail.
The trails here are open to equestrian and mountain bike use as well, with a few exceptions such as the “Peak Trail”.
There are many ancillary trails throughout the park meandering all about, in addition to the acres and acres of woodland and wetland. I’m sure you’ll find something new with each visit.
Neighboring Spring Lake/ Lake Desire Park offers an additional 390 acres of open space and trails with limited shore access and a boat launch.
The Wetland-14 Natural area (awesome name, no?) to the north affords even more open space, but not much in the way of trails at the time of this writing.
I can honestly say that for me this place really spoke to that kid that has never grown up inside. It’s really a place you can freely wander, and really feel like you are far away from the world, yet still in your own backyard.
The frogs that fell silent in the paved over swamps of my youth sing joyfully here, and there really exists a sense of nostalgia and wonderment of those woodlands now gone. Who knows, you might just find yourself brandishing a stick sword as you walk along these winding paths, whistling the songs of days long past.
McGarvey Park can be accessed by any number of points. Some of which even offer a handy-dandy free map, which I found to be a great help.
From I-405 either northbound or southbound in Renton take exit 4 onto Renton-Maple Valley Road (State Route 169). Follow Renton-Maple Valley Road east towards Maple Valley for a little over 2 miles and turn right onto 140th Way SE. In 2 miles turn left on Petrovitsky Road. Follow for 1.6 miles and turn left on Parkside Way SE. Follow for 0.6 miles and turn right on Woodside Drive SE. Follow Woodside Drive for 0.3 miles and turn left on West Lake Desire Drive SE. Follow for 0.3 miles and turn left on 174th Ave SE. In about 0.2 miles the trail crosses the road and this is where we will meet. (Driving time from Seattle: approximately 50 minutes.)
Spring Lake/ Lake Desire directions from King County pamphlet:
From the Maple Valley Hwy, SR-169, or SE Petrovitsky Rd, take 196th Ave SE, the SE 183rd St to E Spring Lake Dr. Follow around the lake to the trailhead at the end of West Spring Lake Dr SE.
I’ve been up Mt.Teneriffe many times, with many people. It’s been a favorite of mine since I first trudged up it’s steep slopes, if not for the views and the challenge of getting to the top, then certainly for the lack of crowds.
I hadn’t been here in a couple years though, and was surprised this time around to see that some pretty significant changes have been made, namely a new trail to the summit.
While those in the know have for years known that an alternate to the Kamikaze route existed, slogging up old logging roads and faint boot paths between Mt.Si and Teneriffe, as of late summer 2014 the WA DNR turned it into an official trail.
How about that?
Great right!? A steady moderate grade on a nice even surface as compared to the stiff hike and light scrambling it used to take to get to the top, I’ll bite!
Hell, I can even loop it with ease now, and I do love a good loop.
Well all is not as it seems, for what the new trail offers in easy grade, it doles out distance in spades.
The new trail is 7 miles to Teneriffe summit! Yowza! That’s compared to the steeper old path which is only a couple miles from trailhead to mountaintop.
Well lets throw on some boots and see what this thing has to offer…
The Teneriffe trailhead is little more than a dirt turn out a little ways further down the road from the much more popular Mt.Si trailhead. While the Mt.Si trailhead is tantamount to a Wal*Mart parking lot, the Teneriffe trailhead really can’t hold more than a dozen vehicles at best.
There are “No Parking” signs along the road and I understand that the neighbors WILL call the towing company.
During peak season, the strategy here is to get in early, or get lucky, oh and a Discover Pass is required to park.
The trail begins uneventfully enough down a DNR road passing through young forest, most likely logged in the early 80s. The road comes to a fork that until very recently wasn’t marked.
You’d just have to know which way to go, but now there is a shiny new sign directing hikers to bear right to “Teneriffe Falls”.
The left fork as of this writing is still unmarked, this is the “new” trail between Mt.Si and Mt.Teneriffe.
THE “NEW” TRAIL
Heading left, the trail continues along the DNR road passing little rivulets cascading down the mountainside before climbing up into denser forest.
The grade is mostly modest but long. However it does travel through pleasant forest and every so often slight views will open up in thinner stands of trees which breaks up the monotony a bit.
When I was passing through, the forest was alive with the songs of black-capped chickadees and Varied Thrush, which made me wonder why in the hell anyone wears headphones while they hike, I mean really!
Just about then a trailrunner jogged by with headphones on, eh, to each their own I guess. Which reminds me, I imagine this would be a great trail for trailrunning as the grade is mostly very even and the path is broad.
Ahem…. So after about four miles or so of long switchbacks the grade relents a bit and the views start to be revealed.
A fork will appear in the road around this time. As of this writing it is marked with a blue ribbon, but really it’d be impossible to miss whether or not that shred of plastic was dangling there.
Going left will result in arriving at Mt.Si in a half hour or less, while going right is approximately another three miles to Mt.Teneriffe. Alright, come on, my legs are aching too, lets keep going….
Thankfully the grade remains mostly light and/or level for awhile giving you a chance to recuperate. The views here really start to open up as well, including an interesting view of “The Haystack” jutting forth from the conifers, seemingly eyeballing you like an immense and hungry Golem.
The tread seems to go on forever until finally reaching a viewpoint to points northward, the first views of such available thus far.
Take a minute to rest up because the trail begins to climb from here yet again.
The switchbacks begin immediately through the upland forest, and you can’t help but feel like you are really getting close now. Then you gain the ridge and start up! Yes, finally, almost there….er, or not. Nope, instead we find ourselves atop the high point more or less northwest of the Teneriffe summit.
Even my legs are aching good now.
Next the trail winds about along a very steep, forested drop off and eventually begins to climb again.
This has got to be it… I think I see blue between the trees, yes it’s sky alright! Phew!
The trail breaks out of the woods and dumps you out about mid-point on the Teneriffe summit block. If you have any gas left a light scramble will take you the rest of the way up. You did it!
The summit is a nice perch offering great views in all directions.
WARNING: In snowy conditions Mt.Teneriffe can have a nasty cornice on top, if it gives way, or you slip, it’s a long ways down to your certain doom.
When it’s time to head down you can either go back the way you came for a 14-mile roundtrip, or cut down the mileage but increase the difficulty by heading down the old trail.
THE OLD TRAIL (KAMIKAZE FALLS)
So beginning from the fork in the DNR road this time we bear right in the direction indicated by the nice, new and shiny Teneriffe Falls sign.
The road ambles along, crosses an ephemeral creek and starts gently climbing, becoming more and more of a trail the higher you get.
Small views begin to open up as you climb above the treetops before the road comes to something of an end marked with a sign. A boot path continues on along the road, but ignore it and head up onto the open talus above you.
After a few switchbacks the well built trail really starts to climb, and the T/A truck stop at the exit 34 really starts to become a fixture of your southern views. Try to look beyond it.
The trail continues to switchback up and up through conifer forest and talus with occasional views opening up along the way. This is a decent workout for most people, but every step is worth it when you finally reach Kamikaze Falls (Teneriffe Falls).
I first knew this place as Kamikaze Falls, I don’t know what the history behind the name is, except maybe that Kamikaze is said to mean “Divine Wind” in Japanese, and usually a divine wind does seem to issue forth from the falls.
Maybe it’s being changed because of Kamikaze’s WWII connotations, or maybe it was Teneriffe Falls this whole time, hell, I dunno. A rose by any other name I guess…
This is a great destination in itself.
During the summer you can indulge in a cooling shower beneath it’s cascading waters, or marvel at ice formations during winter cold snaps. Kamikaze Falls is incredibly photogenic destination any time of year.
With low mileage, open views and a beautiful waterfall at the end, Kamikaze Falls is a great goal for someone in kind of the low-middle range of hiking endurance looking for a new challenge and a huge reward.
At this point if you feel like trudging up to Teneriffe Summit be warned, the rest of this hike isn’t for the timid or out of shape. It’s steep, relentless and often nothing more than a faint boot path.
Look for a trail on your right, it’s a lot more well marked these days so you ought not to have trouble finding it.
The trail basically takes off like a rocket here, gaining the ridge in little time.
Get used to this grade, it’s the norm from here on out.
The route mostly follows the ridge spine, only deviating here and there. Occasionally light scrambling may be necessary up rock outcrops.
Most of the way you will find the trail is big on gain, but short on views. However that all changes rather suddenly as you break out of the trees. On a clear day the views are fantastic! Rainier dominates the south while the burgeoning Puget Sound mega-sprawl stretches along beneath the Olympics to the west.
Here you will find yourself on even steeper terrain, up mountain meadows and patches of trees before coming out near the bottom of the summit block.
During winter months it is advisable to bring some form of traction aid along with you, such as micro spikes or poles (or both!) it can be treacherous around here.
The final climb is little more than a light scramble when snow free and offers ample room for all you summit apes to enjoy a picnic surrounded by 360° of the kind of stuff some people can only dream about.
Now that you are familiar with the Teneriffe trails, from here the world is your oyster, well, if you still have some gas in the tank.
Make it a loop, take a stroll to Mt.Si or come back the way you came!
As always, leave only footprints and take only pictures, oh take and any garbage you might find along the way too. Not to get preachy but just because orange peels and banana wrappers are “biodegradable” doesn’t mean they should just be tossed on the ground. If you can’t pack it out, don’t pack it in.
Along the way up the McClellan Butte trail you might stumble upon the remains of the mill site and adit of the Alice Claim… that is, you would have along the old trail.
Nowadays you’d probably only find it if you were looking for it.
At one time in the not so distant past, the trail up the butte passed right beside the claim, but now that trail has been abandoned in favor of another, and is slowly being reclaimed by nature.
Interestingly enough, hikers still pass right by the site, albeit on a different path, though I imagine only a few oddballs ever notice.
The abandoned trail and mill site are found along Alice Creek, which as a matter of interest was named Revington Creek during the time the Alice Claim was in operation.
The adit itself is collapsed and flooded in addition to being dug into steadily decaying overburden. Which is to say, even if this thing were open, it would be exceedingly dangerous to enter.
STAY OUT, STAY ALIVE!
According to Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.#1, there once existed three tunnels totaling 500ft of underground workings. However, during my visit I only located the one.
A Seattle Times article from July 1900 stated that construction of a surface tram had begun at the claim, linking one of the adits to the mill site. At that time, the mine working machinery was already in operation and the milling equipment was on order. The capacity of this mill was said to handle 10 to 15 tons of ore per day.
Nowadays not much remains, though what does is impressive enough.
The first major artifact seems to be some sort of furna.. You know, honestly I have no idea what in the hell it was exactly, maybe a furnace/boiler something. It looks as though it handled high temperatures at one time, judging by the decaying wrap on the pipes and a mixture of ash and brick underneath it.
Feel free to school me on this one!
The second, and in my opinion, most impressive artifact is what I’m very certain is an ore crusher. It consists of three large metal pestles set in a large cylinder with an ore chute on one side. I imagine this thing was as loud as hell when it was running.
Other artifacts include what appears to be a smashed wood stove and a pile of cut wood in addition to the miscellaneous corroding pipes, bars and various chunks of rusted metal that litter the site.
The Alice Claim is worth a visit for those of you interested in such things and luckily the star artifacts are too heavy to be carried off, so they will likely be there awhile. Though some jackass tagged one of them… yeah.
Anyway, as always, don’t be that jackass, leave it the way you found it.
Happy Trails, Harry Biped
Woodhouse, Phil; Jacobson, Daryl; Petersen, Bill; Cady,Greg; Pisoni, Victor, Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1: The West Central Cascade Mountains. Oso Publishing Company, 1997
Ravensdale retreat is the kind of place you could drive by one thousand times and still not realize it’s there despite the fact that there is a bright, blue, shiny sign out front.
The parking area is a non-descript dirt pull off on the east side of SE Ravensdale Way a few miles east of the mega suburb shopping plex quartered by SE Kent-Kangley Rd & Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE. (Gee, I remember when that was mostly just trees… Ah progress)
I don’t know the exact history of the area, but judging by some aging, out of place fruit trees and old fence posts I’d guess at least some of it used to be part of an old farmstead.
The retreat is a young forest, most recently logged in the 1980s but it still has a real “lived-in” feel with dense growths of sword ferns covering the forest floor and a bright, green tapestry of moss dangling from the trees.
Unfortunately the sounds of civilization are never far, with the Retreat being sandwiched in between the BNSF mainline and Kent-Kangley road.
There is also a rifle range in the vicinity, which makes for a steady chorus of chugging locomotives, growling jake brakes and gunfire. (Hmm, kinda sounds like a redneck wetdream)
That being said, as you amble along deeper and deeper into the woods it’s easy to forget these distractions.
The Ravensdale retreat is home to many animals big and small. During the course of my walks beneath it’s trees I’ve encountered deer, elk and more diminutive mammals as well as a host of different bird species.
I imagine in total there exist about 3 miles of somewhat developed trails through the area, bisected by a long gravel road (which is actually a driveway to a large estate across the railroad tracks) The eastern section of the park is more hilly in contrast to the completely flat western half.
As a riparian area, the trails here can become boggy or outright flooded during heavy weather. Be prepared.
The trail is shared by hikers and horsemen (possibly Centaurs… I dunno) I’ve never actually seen a horse, horseman or Centaur here, but I’m pretty sure they exist due, to their leavings along the trails.
Toward the end of the western section there is a curious signpost reading [←Fairytale Trail]-[Gracie Trail→] Who posted it there? What does it mean? Why?
I don’t know, it’s a mystery, but for whatever reason they are there, and they both end up at the gravel road.
The Ravensdale Retreat is a nice place for a walk and to watch the seasons change. I live close by so I like to visit every now and then. If you are more of a walker/hiker or wanna take someone who might not be in the greatest shape out for a stroll, this is a great place to go. That being said it’s not a destination I myself would drive out of the way for.
Who knows though, try it on, it might just become your own little favorite retreat.