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Hiking The Boulder River Trail and Wilderness


We always start our day with a coffee. Don't be weird about it, coffee is great, and a great start to a hike. Prior to our drive out to the Boulder River Wilderness we grabbed some big ol' vats of coffee. We loaded up the car and THRAK WHACK SPLOOSH. A coffee met its tragic end in the apartment parking garage before ever even meeting the lips of its energize-ee. We had to embarrassingly trudge back and explain ourselves. "Hey we were just in here and uh... we need another spilled". A new one was happily made free of charge. How's that for service. 

We then ACTUALLY made the trek from Seattle to the Boulder River Wilderness. It was about a 90 minute drive for us so we settled in, drank our coffee, and listened to some good music. Part of the reason I picked this hike is, because the pictures looked beautiful, but because I was fascinated with the story of Oso, Washington. I was not living in Washington at the time, but in 2014, Oso, Washington experienced the deadliest landslide in American history. The news stations were talking about it nonstop recently because of its 10 year anniversary. I can't believe I never heard about this before. Driving to this hike took us along State Route 530 where the landslide in Oso took place. While we didn't have time to go to the memorial, seeing the mountainside from the road, that literally sloughed off and rushed into the valley was pretty wild. And terrifying. 

Not far after Oso, you pull onto National Forest road 2010. This is where things get tricky. It's not a maintained road. The potholes are killer. Thankfully we upgraded from a Honda Accord to a Subaru which took it in stride, but we were still bouncing around like crazy. For 3 straight miles. In fact.. there are no bathrooms at the trailhead. They're along the national forest road a few miles before the trailhead. Likely so that service workers don't have to traverse the potholes just to maintain the vault toilet. 

view from the forest road
It's a bumpy ride, but a BEAUTIFUL ride. Picture from the forest road.

 The craziest part to me is...once we got to the trailhead. There were two Ford Mustangs parked there. Who in their right mind takes their Mustang down a 4 mile unmaintained forest road? The same people that take their relatively low clearance Honda Accord, like we used to, I guess. HAHA. 


Boulder River Trailhead sign
Boulder River Trailhead

Boulder River Trail
The trail starts out very easy, in a beautiful forest marked with very cool mossy rocks on the left side for a while. This is a relatively easy hike, even though the trail is about 9 miles out an back. Any elevation gain is gradual and punctuated and there really aren't any "OH NO STRAAAAAAIGHT UP" parts.

green wall
So much green, so much cool. Few boulders in the way of the trail. A sign of things to come?

Rock wall
Cool rock wall with mother nature placing her own graffiti all over the rocks!

hole in the path
Watch your step! No seriously. This can honestly hurt someone if they didn't see it, if they were running, if you have dogs, or small children. I hope this doesn't continue to grow in size. This is kind of an abutted edge and if this collapses you definitely have some elevation to fall.

boulder river trail wet with rocks and wood
The trail continues, and as it continues it gets a little wetter. More rocks, bit of timber.

Dead tree art
Dead tree with a view

stunning views
These views are awesome!

felled tree
Uh oh! Do you climb over or try to play limbo under the trunk?

Boulder River Wilderness
It's no Alpine Lakes Wilderness but it'll do. Washington has the best National Forest wilderness in the contiguous US! This happens to be part of the Mt-Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. If you know anything about Washington you'd know Mt. Baker and Snoqualmie are nowhere near each other so this National Forest is HUGE.

Boulder River
Not long into the hike you start to catch glimpses of Boulder River. Whether you see it or not on the hike, you certainly hear it!


Stunning forests
I don't know how to explain this but National Forests just look...better. Don't you think? I could die here

Boulder River waterfall
And now for one of the main attractions of the un-named waterfall. This waterfall is incredible. It looks amazing. It splits into TWO falls. It falls into a beautiful river with awesome boulders. And it's only slightly over a mile from the trailhead. Yes, this isn't at the end of the hike. This is only like 1.2 miles into the hike. And there are more waterfalls to come too. I think the potholed forest road drives a lot of people away from here! and that's fine with me. We saw only a few groups of people on the trail, and a couple of dogs! You have to climb down from the top of the trail to get down here, but it's 100% worth it.

falls empty into river
The two pronged falls emptying into the river

rocky boulder river
oh BOULDER river. I get it now. I can't handle it. So pretty.

boulder river
The trail continues. You can see this cool cove area from the top of the trail.

Trail bridge
There it is. A trail bridge. I love trail bridges. So cool!

forest on the trail
Nothing but pure forest along the trail. Crazy beautiful.

tree cut
I love when trees fall on trails and we just cut steps into them.

beautiful trail
My GOODNESS this is a beautiful trail

peeks of mountain peaks
Peek of a mountain peak. Mountains are not a highlight of this trail but you get a little glimpse!

And then...if you climb down to the river from the're met with ANOTHER beautiful waterfall!

river beauty
This river is too much. I just love it.

weeping rocks
This one has its own like... weeping rocks waterfall

more river views
Cool views continue along the trail. This becomes almost gorge like. Gorge-ess?

Stream crossing
There are many tiny stream crossings on the trail too. Appreciate their beauty as well. They also help wash the mud off your shoes and boots!

another crossing
Yet another stream crossing. Beauty!

mushrooms fungi
Some fungi on the wet trail! Imagine that

Forest and river
A beautiful river that cuts through a beautiful forest. That explains this trail well. It was around now that we realized... we need to turn back. We did like 90% of the trail. But we were on a bit of a time crunch, and we had just enough cell service to notice that traffic was getting bad on I-5 and we'd need more time to get back to Seattle in time. So we had to cut our hike short and turn around. I feel so silly making it 90% of the way, but it had to be done in the interest of time. Next time we'll budget our time better. As I understand the end of the trail simply takes you down to the river for more sights. I think we saw a lot already so I'm okay with missing it I suppose. We saw some amazing things.

trail logs
Who put all of this here?

forest and mountain
Mountains and forest

dead tree with fungi
Dead tree with some wild growth inside.

As I mentioned, we had a bit of a time crunch and had to get back to Seattle without finish the hike...even though we were so close. I blame AllTrails. Or maybe us dropping our coffee. Our maybe us for never leaving on time anyway. Or maybe me for making appointments AFTER a hike and not before. Either way...a beautiful place and a beautiful day. We did briefly head to Fast Fashion Brewing in Queen Anne, Seattle for one beer. Then we had to skedaddle.


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