photos · Trip Reports

Walking On The Cedar River

This summer I finally got to stand just above the head waters of the North Fork of the Cedar River – it comes from Twilight Lake on the PCT. That was indeed a neat feeling seeing where the river comes from, just a tiny drop of nearly nothing.

The sadness lies in that the Cedar River runs mostly through a land that only a handful of humans have seen in the past 100 years – since most of the Cedar River runs through the City Of Seattle’s Cedar River Watershed. Less than 5 miles downstream it encounters the South Fork of the Cedar River – that comes from just next to the boundary of the Green River Watershed (owned by the City Of Tacoma). The river pours into Chester Morse Lake, a reservoir. The lake is long but finally at around 21 miles the river becomes itself again.

But once it wraps past Landsburg, it is all ours once again. 34 miles or so from its birth, the river flows free till it pours into Lake Washington at its end – only another 20 miles does the river have to its end. In the end the Cedar runs for about roughly 55 miles – by many peoples standards it is a creek, not a river. But what a pretty river it is – it isn’t glacial fed nor does it come from near a volcano. Its waters are often crystal clear and the water itself is heaven to drink. She is a mostly benevolent river and only on rare winters does she flood bad.

But ah, one of the beauties of the river is to walk the rail to trail, the Cedar River Trail. It starts in Renton, Wa at the shores of Lake Washington and rolls to the town of Maple Valley on a paved bed. As it passes the junction for the Cedar To Green River Trail the pavement ends at mile 12.3 and continues on hard packed trail bed for another 5 miles – till you reach Landsburg and the closed interior of the watershed. The trail is 17.3 miles long. The rail bed continues on, all the way through the closed watershed to where it would connect with two other rail to trails – the Iron Horse Trail and the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. If only. Add in a very long sighing over the closed access. If only, only it was open we would have the ability to go across a big portion of the state on foot and bikes without having to drive. All the big trails in the Seattle/Interstate 90 corridor/Auburn/Kent Valley connect except for one. That would be the Cedar River Trail. Dead ending just a few miles away from hiking/biking heaven. But ah, that won’t change, so I will accept the lumps and enjoy what I can, no?

The part we mortals are allowed to enjoy goes from a noisy city to following a highway to suddenly you leave it all behind and weave along the river through rural quiet. The last 5 1/2 miles are the best – particularly in the colder months as the leaves fall and the skies become open. Bears walk the trail often here – and why wouldn’t they? It is their kind of living – a river full of tasty salmon and other fishies, lots of berries and other vittles. And hey, when they get tired they can amble back into the watershed where they are relatively safe 😛  Cougars are seen periodically as well.

The miles in the country have a number of trestle bridges that cross the river. Looking down, the river was up today from all the rain, a little bit was in the flood channels.

Looking upstream.

It was a pleasant day to be out with Kirk and Ford. Kirk was pushing me to hold 3 1/2 miles an hour. Task Master he is! Methinks I go a lot slower when it is just me 😉

We ended up getting poured on about 1/2  a mile from being done but then the clouds blew out and it was nice once again.

Being late fall I know I will be back more as I do every year. I can always dream of what the forbidden section looks like as the winter slips by……