8+ miles round trip / 700′ elevation gain
Have you ever had the feeling you’ve been somewhere before? As my husband and I turned off the highway towards the Boulder River trailhead parking, we had that exact feeling. Once we parked and started making our way down the Boulder River trail we knew we had made this hike before, or at least we had tried. Two years ago we headed down that very same trail, only to be turned around by unsafe, icy trail conditions which we were not prepared for; but that was not the case on this day. Although our drive into the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest was slowed down by thick, dense fog, as we made our way down the forest road the fog cleared and blue skies appeared.
Even though the air was a bit frigid with temperatures in the high 30’s, trail conditions were perfect. With the recent large amounts of rain we have been receiving in the Pacific Northwest, Boulder River was thundering along the trail throughout our entire hike. The abundance of rain also resulted in beautiful, cascading waterfalls speckled along the way. The trail ascends slowly along the river making for an easy day hike.
After a few miles we rested beside Boulder River enjoying the sounds of a small, cascading waterfall. We returned to the trail and made our way around the next bend to find a much larger, even more captivating waterfall. It was mesmerizing – I couldn’t take my eyes off of it!
Once we peeled ourselves away from the beauty of the falls, we continued along the trail winding through the forest with the sounds of the river as our soundtrack. The short winter day had the sun dipping behind the mountains early in the afternoon. After nearly 4+ miles we decided it was time to turn around and head back towards the parking area not quite making it to the end of the trail.
With plans to make our return a trail run, my husband and I stripped down to our running gear and stuffed our warmer layers into our packs. We made our way along the trail this time moving more swiftly jumping over the boulders and small creek crossings along the way. Even though it was mostly a descent back towards the trailhead, at times the trail climbed upwards slowing me down to a light jog or even walking on occasion. The backdrop of cascading waterfalls and the sound of the booming Boulder River made for an exhilarating, breathtaking trail run. We arrived back at our car just in time as the warmth of the sun was being stripped away by nightfall. As we headed back towards Seattle the dense fog that had dissipated late that morning returned as if it was waiting for us to leave the trail.