EXPLORE: Skykomish, WA
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You will find the small town of Skykomish along Highway 2, about 40 or so minutes past Monroe, and before you start the uphill climb over Stevens Pass. For the life of me, I have never figured out why it is actually located in King County instead of Snohomish County. If you know our area, you get what I mean, it just doesn’t make sense.
It being in King County is a fact that I had never realized until early in our first year. I had been heading out in that direction to check out Deception Falls (featured below) when I suddenly found myself faced with an “Entering King County” sign, that left me with the biggest WTF face and a need to turn around to find something else to do.
Thanks to our new Beyond Our Borders section, though, I finally got to check the town, the falls, and more. Not just once either, but twice, you know, just to make sure we saw as much of what it had to offer as possible and got to catch some of the recreation in the area. We are always up for new trails and beautiful scenery.
Skykomish is first and foremost, a historical railroad town. It served as a stopover point for the Great Northern Railroad, then Burlington Northern Railroad, from the 1890’s to the 1970’s. While there, you certainly don’t have to look far to find evidence of this history.
Artifacts and photos of the town’s railroad days can be found not only in its historical museum, but in the train museum created in the town’s historic station. If history is not your thing, not to worry, Skykomish has something better, and definitely unique.
Just behind the station is a miniature train and railroad that adults and kids alike can ride for free on the weekends for free. Give a donation though, the ride is worth it. If you are wondering, yes I took a ride on it, I even got my 16 year old on it our second trip out there. That is no small feat.
When it comes to sitting down to eat, the Cascadia Inn is the place to be. The inn features a cafe style dining experience, and did I mention they also serve Original Pilot House Coffee from Monroe (my official locally roasted coffee at home). That fact is reason enough to give it a try. We caught breakfast there, and it was good old fashioned cafe food at its best.
Just outside its door, you will find a sign for the Iron Goat Trail (featured below). It is one that we hadn’t even know about, but had enough interesting info to catch our attention. Thanks to that sign we hit that trail instead of the falls our first time there. Not to worry, we did both, and you will find mini reviews when you turn the page.
Beyond the fun with trains and surrounding recreation, there isn’t a lot more to the town. It’s small, home to around 200 people, but definitely worth checking out, if nothing more than to see the old buildings and do a bit of exploring when it comes to its history. There is a small candy shop for the kids and a old time saloon for the adults.
If you are in the area, and decide to hit some trails or not, I recommend taking a detour on the Old Cascade Highway, located off Highway 2 a short ways past town. It is a short little side trip, paved, with beautiful forest and stream views, as well as a pretty awesome waterfall.
Iron Goat Trail – Lower Grade Portion to MP 1718
By far, the coolest thing about the Iron Goat Trail is that it has more than one entrance point, and multiple sections that can be taken individually on different trips. This is good for us, because the trail as a whole is quite large, and we are about a 4-6 mile type of group.
Regardless of which section you choose, you will find railroad history and artifacts throughout your journey. We opted for a 3-4 mile in and out section of the lower grade portion, the easy road, and along the way, we saw a massive and long wall left over from a former snowshed as well as well as a tunnel which is partially accessible.
That tunnel gave me some serious horror movie vibes, so much so that it took forever for me to venture inside to get better photos and check out the info sign. The SnoCo Kid teasing me about it when I finally did, certainly didn’t help. In case you are wondering, she pulled a Pennywise voice on me from the newer IT movie while standing behind me. So not cool! I’m plotting my revenge as we speak.
While both the wall and the tunnel were cool, it was the smaller things we discovered here and there along the way that really made the trail fun. When it came to artifacts, it was kind of like an ISpy game … finding artifacts along the trail and hidden amongst the trees.
Then there was the plant and bug life. While most of the trail was fairly standard trees and flowers for the area, there were portions of the lower grade that felt a bit like being in a rainforest thanks to our somewhat humid weather lately. The bugs were probably the most interesting though. We saw some that we had never seen before on any of our travels or hikes.
Thanks to our curiosity over them … we were eyeing something that looked like a daddy long legs crossed with a spider that had white balls on the ends of its legs …, I managed to get a massive bug bite on the back of my leg that took weeks to go away. I don’t want to know what caused it. Figures, the one day we forgot to bring bug spray.
This is a great trail for all skill levels, and definitely worth checking out. It is beautiful and well maintained thanks to volunteers from the Washington Trail Association, some of which were hard at work while we enjoyed our hike. A huge thank you to them!
Deception Falls Trail
If short and easy trails are your thing, then Deception Falls, located East of Skykomish, is the trail for you. It is labeled as a 0.5 mile loop but, that being said, it actually feels longer, at least double that. I say that as someone who has done a 0.5 mile trail before. Then again, it could have just been our ridiculously hot weather going to my head.
Issues with length aside, this is an amazing and easy trail to hike. Throughout it, you are greeted with peaceful sources of water and historical info signs, Of particular interest, are the multiple view points of waterfalls along Deception Creek and the Tye River.
Those waterfalls range in size from small to medium, from my point of view anyway. I’ve seen some big ones after all. Their size doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth your time though. Each view point is unique and the color of the Tye River is absolutely beautiful in the summer (PS, the same can be said of the Skykomish River).
When it came to tackling the loop we opted to start from the left side and go the long way. There is a shorter split off option to reach Deception Falls itself available, as well as the ability to start from the end of the loop on the right side and get there even faster, if you are so inclined.
I’d recommend making a go of the entire loop though if you have the time, it’s more than worth it and you can’t get much easier when it comes to trail length and difficulty. Plus, the view points are close enough to the rushing water to feel heavenly on a scorching hot day.
When you reach Deception Falls, whichever way you go to get there, take the time to stop, get off the path and sit on the rocks alongside it for some quiet time. Don’t worry, everyone else will be doing the same.