400 feet elevation gain
The Redmond Watershed Preserve is one of King County’s biggest secrets. With over seven miles of trails winding through moss-covered trees, the Preserve is a hidden gem that is only minutes away from downtown Redmond. I’ve been a regular at the Preserve for years and make a habit of rambling the trail before or after work.
Earlier this week I arrived at the trail bright and early, this time with my camera in tow. The parking lot was empty at that early hour, although the restrooms were already unlocked. I set out on the Connector Trail next to the restrooms, but took an immediate right and walked around the parking lot to the beginning of the Trillium Connector Trail. I immediately felt the hush of the woods enfold me as I began my walk. There’s a magical quality about this place that keeps me coming back.
The trail soon intersects the Powerline Regional Trail, so-called because of its location beneath a set of towering electrical cables. The woods have been cleared here, proving views all the way to the Olympic Mountains to the west. After snapping a few photos, I plunged back into the woods along the Trillium Trail, heading north.
Here the trail winds through the woods, following a broad path that is wide enough for a small car. Horses are allowed on this part of the trail as evidenced by the droppings on the path, although I did not run into any horses today. The trail has a gentle grade and is a favorite for trail runners. I could tell that a race was recently held here from the arrows left behind on the ground to mark the way.
After 1.8 miles, I briefly turned off of the Trillium Trail towards the Old Pond Trail. I don’t typically head over to this part of the Preserve, but I thought it would be fun to check out the pond. A bench sits at the edge of the pond and is a nice place to eat a snack and contemplate life. I didn’t linger, however, as the bugs were particularly bad today. I’ve been coming to the Preserve for years and the bugs were worse today than I have ever seen them. They’re not as bad if you keep moving, however, so I headed back to the Trillium Trail and kept going.
Here the Trillium Trail heads east and loops past the north trail entrance. There’s a second smaller parking lot here. I’ve run into deer a few times by the north parking lot, but didn’t see any today.
At this point, the main trail naturally curves southward and turns into the Pipeline Regional Trail. This trail is open to bikes and it’s best to be on the lookout for the occasional cyclist flying by. You can follow this trail back to the south parking lot, but I prefer to extend my hike by heading east on the Collin Creek Trail.
After about .3 miles, the trail branches again and I took the right fork onto Siler’s Mill Trail. This is the only trail in the Preserve that is closed to both horses and bikes. I was also attacked here a couple of years ago by an owl when I accidentally came too close to its nest. I saw the owl in a tree and whipped out my phone to take some pictures, only to have it swoop down and grab at my head with its talons as I walked away. It scared the crap out of me and I had to fend it off with my hiking poles as it kept swooping at me. So, lesson learned – leave the wildlife alone!
I followed Siler’s Mill Trail for about a mile as it wound through the trees and exited through a turnstile onto the Pipeline Regional Trail. Here, a wide corridor has been cleared through the woods to make way for an underground natural gas pipeline. I followed the Pipeline Trail until it connected back to the Powerline Trail and made my way back to the South Parking Lot from there.
Back at the trailhead, I changed into my work clothes in the ladies room. The Preserve also has a foot washing station which I tend to use in the winter months when the trail is muddy, but not today. I was reminded of another visit when I walked the Preserve after work and returned to the parking lot after dark. I had my headlamp with me and had no issues finding the trail, but a security guard was waiting for me in the parking lot. He was supposed to lock the gate at dusk and was worried that I had gotten lost in the woods. It was pretty embarrassing. As a result, I now tend to avoid the trail in the evenings – although this is less of a concern now that the days are getting longer.
Feeling refreshed, I drove to the office ready to face a new day. It hasn’t been easy adjusting to city life after my year off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but little sojourns into the wilderness do help.