Thunder Creek & Knob

Kim was free and wanted to go for a forest hike. I had a couple ideas. Thunder Creek up north on Highway 20 won out. I had been up Thunder Creek to the Fourth of July Trail on our way to Ruby Mountain in 1994. In 2006 Gary and I hiked the trail all the way to Park Creek Pass. This would be my third visit. Kim had not hiked it at all. We also talked about hiking up Thunder Knob later. Neither of us had been on that trail. We met in Shoreline at 6:45 am and headed north. Up to Arlington then on to Darrington and Newhalem. From there up the North Cascades Highway to Colonial Creek Campground. We drove through to the 1200' Thunder Creek parking lot to find it more than half full. We arrived at 9:15 am and were on the trail by 9:28 am. Unlike the day before the sky was clear.

We had no destination and no need to hike fast. This would be a day enjoying the forest. It is quite a forest. Lots of big trees and so many shades of green. Moss is everywhere. Ferns abound. The trail starts by heading upstream along Thunder Creek. We saw a few bleeding hearts still holding on. There were quite a few starflowers in bloom. We saw saprophytes in a number of places. I had not seen any so far this year.  For the second day in a row and fourth time in a month I saw blooming wild ginger. The flowers are hidden by the leaves. Recognizing the leaves is the key. We crossed the creek on the big bridge. The creek is more like a river here. Big, moving fast, and  green in color.

On the other side of the bridge is a campground and some very big trees. Among the largest seen all day. The trail climbs a bit here and gets out of sight of the creek. We saw some honeysuckle in bloom. That is another wildflower I seldom see. Earlier I mentioned to Kim that I had not seen a tiger lily in bloom this year. Cue the big tiger lily right alongside the trail. Just one of them.  We continued along with one rock hopping creek crossing. At another creek crossing at 2.77 miles we stopped. This one had a bridge over it and a waterfall above and below it. It dropped all the way down to Thunder Creek. We decided to have lunch here and turn around. That would leave us time to still do Thunder Knob. It was already 11:45 am when we stopped.

We met two guys here who had hiked up to Easy Pass then down Fisher Creek to Thunder Creek. On day two they were hiking out. That would be a fun weekend backpacking trip. A number of families were backpacking to the campsites just across the bridge and those at Neve Camp a little farther down the trail. Short and mostly flat trail makes for a great destination for families with small children who can't walk longer distances. It was warming rapidly but the forest kept us pretty cool. We knew that the Thunder Knob Trail would be much warmer. We reached the parking lot at 2:15 pm. We had more food, water, and put on sun screen for hike #2.

We drove back to Highway 20 to find the parking lot for Thunder Knob was full with cars parked along the highway. A rocky gravel siding along the campground road where it reaches Highway 20 had a couple spots left. We crossed the highway on foot and started walking the road into the north side of the campground. Signs lead to the start of the trail. I had read that there is a creek to cross at the start. Yes, there is. It is Colonial Creek. It comes down from the north side of Colonial Peak where snow keeps melting much of the summer. The creek was higher than I was expecting. It was clear that a big flood had torn up the start of the trail. Rocks strewn everywhere and no top soil left. The creek was in two braids. The first was crossed on a log. The second on a bridge.

Now we were on the nicely graded trail. It climbs about 650' over 1.8 mils to the top. The grade is never steep. A fine trail for most anyone. It starts in a nice green forest that gives way to an open pine forest that is totally different. Some great diversity. The trail has a number of benches along the way and at the top. One has a clear view up to Colonial Peak. I had read about a wetland and it did not seem possible to find one on the knob. In fact there is a marshy pond. Hikers were coming down but not many considering all the cars at the parking lot.

We reached the top at 3:58 pm. We took about an hour to hike up. There are two viewpoints. The first was full of folks so we went over to the one on the right. Some great views of peaks and green water of Diablo Lake. To the north was a big white cloud with some black mixed in. The clouds were very photogenic. Sourdough Mountain was far above. At maximum zoom I could just see the lookout. We could see down Thunder Creek and up to Colonial Peak. Davis Peak was snowy to the west. At only 1875' with some forest the views are much better than I was expecting. Some clouds were now overhead minimizing the heat and a breeze was blowing. It was really nice on top. We were in no hurry to leave. In fact we stayed until 4:45 pm. The trip down was faster. Several groups were still coming up. The smoothly graded trail made for an easy descent.

This turned out to be a fun day on the trail. We had an easy hike along Thunder Creek in dark and green forest followed by an easy climb to a great viewpoint  For the day we hiked 9 miles with 1300' of elevation gain. On the way home we stopped at the Marblemount diner and made it back to Shoreline at 8:50 pm. I was home by 9:15 pm. We were late enough to only have a short slowdown in north Everett. It is always nice to hike a new trail. Thunder Knob was a lot of fun.

Colorful Ferns
Big Tree & Rock
Unalike Twins
Big Tree
Thunder Creek
Really Big Tree
Coral Root
Kim On Trail
Tiger Lily
Small Flower
Turnaround Point
Nice Contrast
Tiger Lily II
Red Berry
Near Bridge
Spring Beauty
Crossing Colonial Creek
Colonial Peak
Marshy Pond
Cloud Behind Peak
Clouds Over Jack Mt.
Davis Peak
Snowy Slope
Neat Clouds
Big Clouds
Scenic Clouds
Sourdough Mt Lookout
Diablo Lake
Transporting Truck
Thunder Knob Viewpoint
Pond Reflection
Colonial Peak Again
Huge Waterfall
Kim Crossing Log
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019