Downey Creek

The Suiattle River Road washed out and was partly closed for a decade. In that time, I climbed up Green Mountain via the old trail starting at Downey Creek on three occasions. I hiked up Sulphur Mountain twice with one trip starting at Downey Creek. I camped at Downey each time. What I had never done in 34 years of hiking is hike on the Downey Creek Trail. That omission was rectified this day. The first day of the three day Memorial Day weekend would be gray and damp. No views to be had. Why not hike up a very green forested creek trail? We headed to Darrington then north to the Suiattle River Road. The gravel section was fine though a little slick with the rain. We crossed the bridge over Downey Creek then parked in the small lot on the right. Four times I biked in and camped there. The lot was closed because of dangerous trees. It is now open and quite a few trees have been cut down. One tent was set up. A big tent complex was back on the other side of the bridge. After a couple stops we reached the trailhead at about 10:45 am. We were on the trail by 11:00 am.

The single word that best describes this trail is "green". Everything is green. The trees, the brush, the ground, everything. The route begins with a switchbacking ascent. Not steep but a consistent climb. After that it is a pretty gentle climb with a few ups and downs the first few miles. The wilderness boundary is about half a mile in. The wildflower show was not spectacular but was not too bad either. We saw a lot of queens cups in bloom. The dark gray sky allowed me to photograph the bright white flowers without blowing out the highlights. There were also a number of saprophytes. These non chlorophyll plants have no green and do not need sunlight to grow. Coral root was in many spots. We had one very good bunch of candystick right on the edge of the trail. It was not yet fully open but more on the way back than the way in.

Earlier this year a work crew spent four days cutting down trees and working on tread. Another few days of trail work were done. The result is that the trail is in excellent shape. One big log required bending over a little to get under. Another very big tree looks to have fallen since the work was done. A short boot path goes up and around the end. The flower show continued with lots of starflowers in bloom. Oregon grape already had small berries. Early season bleeding hearts were also blooming. Kim spotted wild ginger and we found some of those unusual flowers too. Some creeks were dry and some had running water. At just under two miles we found one that took some careful rock hopping to cross with dry feet. At two miles we stopped for lunch.

It had been drizzling for some time and it still was. Not hard but consistent. We took a look around for an old trail. Might have found it. For another day perhaps. A late start, slow pace, and lots of photos made this our turn around point. It was 2:20 when we started back. We made better time though we were still not in a hurry. It was just after 4:00 pm when we reached the car. One group passed us by on the way out and arrived back at the start just after us. They went about 12 miles on the day. Even on a holiday weekend we found a trail that has only one other group on it all day. There are always places for find solitude. I will be back to see more of this trail. Though it is seldom along the creek it is one very lush valley.

Suiattle River
Starting Out
Queen's Cup
Coral Root
Wilderness Boundary
Looking Up
Very Green Forest
Slime Mold
Kim At Work
Still Very Green
I Forgot Name
Oregon Grape
Maidenhair Ferns
Bleeding Hearts
Wild Ginger
Very Green
Brown Strip
Inverted Mushroom
White Fungus
Mossy Wall
Still More Green
Start Of Trail
Trailhead Signboard
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2016