When the going gets tough, the tough get going–to the woods, to the beaches, to the mountains. I needed to escape to nature last week but with a time crunch and dark clouds looming, picked something close and easy: Heybrook Ridge.
While I had hopes of doing the more strenuous Heybrook Lookout just a bit further east on Hwy 2, with the clouds swirling above we decided to wait another day for the view from the lookout. Both Heybrook hikes are in the town of Index, only about an hour east of Mama Boots, and just low enough to be typically snow-free but still mountainous. The land is maintained by Snohomish County Parks as well as the Friends of Heybrook Ridge. As soon as we parked in the (empty) lot and set out, it was immediately clear this was a well-maintained trail. Brown signs note your distance every quarter mile, and there was not even evidence of any recent blowdowns.
The trail climbs, gradually and then steeper before flattening out a bit again. At 0.75 miles in, there is a mini-waterfall with a bench ready for you to gaze at. Being on a slight time crunch, we stayed on our feet and only took a few moments to take in the view here. Onward we went, as the trees began spreading out a bit more. We passed a boggy marsh that I’m sure in summer would be ripe for mosquitoes, but for now was tranquil. The trail started leveling out even more and we reached a crossing underneath some powerlines. Go forward here, not on the road. There were some pretty valley views here, but with the 1.5 mile marker, we knew the end, and the real payoff, was all-too near.
At the sign saying 1.66 miles, you’re there: a breathtaking view, even with the clouds, of the mountains (apparently Philadelphia Mountain) along with Bridal Veil Falls dotting the hillside. With every second, the sky was clearing more and more. We started seeing snow peek out from the clouds higher on the mountains, and as we snacked we cheered on the clouds to keep on moving. It was wonderful to have this area to ourselves, as with even a couple more people it would have been a little too cozy for my taste. We saw hummingbirds at the top, including one stunning red one.
All too soon, we had to hit the trail back. We still hadn’t seen a soul on the trail, but near the top, Mama Boots pointed out what looked like a very fresh, very large paw print. I don’t know a lot about animal prints, but I know that dogs and coyotes leave claw marks, felines do not. This track had no claw marks. I didn’t want to alarm Mama Boots, but I started hoofing it down the mountain, not even stopping to get a picture of the track. It could have been a bobcat, but I really didn’t want to stick around in case it was something larger and more lethal. I saw that same print a few more times along the trail, which made me think maybe it was a dog that just had it’s nails cut too short? Either way, when we came across a trail runner, I felt relieved. Then there was more and more people, clearly hitting the trail now that the clouds had dissipated. Feeling safer now, I reduced my pace so we could take another view at the creek at 0.75 miles to go, now lit by the burgeoning sun.
The lot was filling up by the time we finished. This was a great short hike to squeeze in under a time crunch, but if hoping for something a bit longer, many people make it a two-fer with Heybrook Lookout. You could even make it a two-fer with Bridal Veil Falls, although that will be a bit more strenuous.
Distance: 3.3 miles according to WTA (my GPS said 3.1)
Elevation: 775 feet
Parking: No pass required
Bathrooms: A few Honeybuckets at the trailhead, which happened to be serviced right as we left
Best Beer Bet: There’s a brewery in Sultan and some options in Monroe, but early afternoons on weekdays your best bet is Sound to Summit Brewing in Snohomish