400 feet elevation gain
The Redmond Watershed Preserve is one of King Countyâ€™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. Iâ€™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. Thereâ€™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, providing 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 donâ€™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 didnâ€™t linger, however, as the bugs were particularly bad today. Iâ€™ve been coming to the Preserve for years and the bugs were worse today than I have ever seen them. Theyâ€™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. Thereâ€™s a second smaller parking lot here. Iâ€™ve run into deer a few times by the north parking lot, but didnâ€™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 itâ€™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 Silerâ€™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 Silerâ€™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 hasnâ€™t been easy adjusting to city life after my year off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but little sojourns into the wilderness do help.