Dan and Hannah Hike Boulder River in Washington

BR map of Everett

To avoid the snarling commuter traffic of Seattle to our south, we have set up shop in Everett as the base of operations for our hiking days this first week of June.   Not until this fifth day of our hiking vacation in Washington do we finally get a dose of Northwest reality (i.e.,gray on gray with rain here, there, and everywhere).  Until today it’s been Leslie Gore weather (i.e., sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows).  Click here to hear the Jersey Girl sing that classic 60s pop ditty.

Under low clouds we drive even further north on I-5 for 20 miles and then 23 miles to the east on route 530 through Arlingt0n and Oso.  Turning off the highway on to French Creek Road, we are promised 3.6 miles on a “good” dirt road to the Boulder River trailhead.

BR 1B  D in poncho at start

Very quickly, we beg to differ about said “good” road.  Indeed, we feel we have been hoodwinked!  Click here for the Washington Trails Association description of the Boulder River Trail. The only way that this is a “good” road is if you are driving an ATV, 4-Wheel drive, or some Monster truck!  Weaving in and out, past and through cavernous potholes filled with water from the overnight rain, we have one other slight problem – it’s a one lane forest road with absolutely no shoulder.

BR 1C  H in rain coat at start

We have no idea how far we might have to back up if we meet another vehicle.  But please!  Who but us would be hiking on such a day!  French Creek Road reminds me of Forest Road 42, another detestable backroad to Springer Mountain in Georgia (the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail) with its harrowing turns on mountainside cliffs.

BR 1 trailhead road puddles

Trailhead parking


Three point six miles in 30 minutes!  French Creek Road after a storm is our new least favorite road in America.  Hannah, who later drives out, says because of this road, she would never recommend this Boulder River hike, even with its 200+ waterfalls.  Me?  I am still on board with this being a cool hike.  Drive two mph when appropriate and you’ll be just fine.

Expecting empty trailhead parking, we are surprised to see a bus and another car on this soggy Thursday.   It’s a hiking morning that might cause one to wonder, What the hell are you two doing hiking in this weather?  What are you smoking?  Do you two ever take a day off?   The short answer is, Not in recent memory.  You see, we only have ten hiking days 3000 miles from home in Maine and today have spent ninety minutes getting here; ergo, ipso facto, I pull on my evergreen Washington poncho while Hannah slips on her rust orange designer rain jacket.

BR 1A  trail begins

At the start, the trail is 8’ wide and level, allowing us to walk side by side.  Soon to our right, some 200 yards away, is the Boulder River Falls.  Though we can hear the falls, we cannot see it through the foliage.  We read that from this trail there is no access to the river below.

Heading inland along the Boulder River, we hike high above it on a rocky and rooted mountainside trail.  This is no trail for kids under eight and as such not a family hike.  But is it ever lush with spring green ferns, nearly ripe raspberry bushes in this old growth forest.   We’ve read that there is an old growth hugging tree.  Huggers from way back, we are zeroed in on finding this tree!

BR 2A  twin falls without pines

Unnamed twin falls above the Boulder River

Within 30 minutes, we first hear, then see the unnamed twin waterfalls spilling over the mountainside down to the Boulder River.  The 200’ drop is spectacular as it brightens the still misty 52F late spring morning.   The following video is our first pass of these spectacular falls.

BR 3A BR trail itself

On the trail by ourselves, we have ups and downs along the river mountain side as we climb through thick Washington greenness.   For the first time in a week I don’t even notice my left Achilles; just a week ago I pissed it off by playing ping pong barefooted and put our hiking trip in jeopardy.

BR 5  D in rainforest trail

Eventually coming to a group of teenagers, we chat up the chaperones and teachers and learn that these 10-16 year olds are from the local Montessori School.  Click here for more information about the Montessori Schools of Snohomish County.

Hearing Montessori, I jump to the conclusion, as I am want to do, that these must be really cool teachers with students whose parents want something more than being homogenized by the whole milk of standardized testing.

Later checking their website, I learn, Through the use of the five senses and manipulative (hands-on) materials, the child is allowed to progress at his/her own, individual learning rate.  How cool is that!

BR 4 second set of falls

Second set of falls tumbling into the Boulder River

Twenty-five minutes later we come to a second falls that we see through the trees high above the Boulder River.   The trail remains very rocky and rooted, but that gives it character as the sun emerges from behind the less dreary Washington sky.

BR 7A  H at hugging tree

Hannah at the Hugging Tree

Upon our return, Hannah in the lead spots and hugs the Hugging Tree.   Old Growth Love at its best.   As her Old Growth Love, I have had the good fortune to go from Hannah’s Young Growth to Old Growth Love over our 44 years together.

Our four-year-old grandson Owen wonders why he never sees his Poppa in the hiking videos.  Well, today I’ll provide the commentary while Hannah shoots the video from my iPhone.

BR 2C  H at twin falls

Hannah at the newly named twin falls

And to top it off, we have named the unnamed waterfalls.   Take a listen and enjoy the afternoon video of the twin falls.


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