Last Saturday, March 14th, Gerlinde Gruber, Kendra Wanzenried, Ida Callahan, Ron Riter, and Joanie Pryor chanced snow, rain, and wind to hike up to the top of Little Mountain Park, the largest park of the city of Mt. Vernon. As it turned out, although a little cold, it was a beautiful day with sun, a few clouds, and no wind. This afforded us beautiful views of south Mt. Vernon across to Whidbey Island and beyond. To the north from the second of two view points, we were able to look over Mt. Vernon and Burlington as far as the mountains behind Vancouver, B.C.
After parking in the ample lot at the Silver Arrow Bowman’s Archery Range, also one of trailheads to Little Mountain Park, we began our hike on the Darvil Trail. We meandered up through western red cedar, Douglas fir, big leaf maple, red huckleberry bushes, and snowberries. Except for one stretch called “Fred’s Trail,” I would rate the hike as moderate. On Fred’s Trail, there were steep sections with some areas where use of hands was needed to scramble up. However, there was no real serious exposure. On this part of the trail, we met a WTA work party re-routing a very steep part of the trail. I look forward next time to benefiting from their hard work.
At the top, in addition to one of the view points, there were several picnic tables. We relaxed, visited, ate lunch and prepared for our decent all under the glorious warmth of the sun. After using the restroom, we started our decent on the Ridge Trail after Ron was able to spot it’s start. It is rather hidden behind the privy!! Our return again was through cedars, firs, maples, etc. There was one spot reminiscent of the Oyster Dome trail in that there were many ‘trails’ wandering through the forest. Being competent mountaineers, it proved no great challenge to us. We returned to our cars about 1:15PM or so with total elapsed time close to 3-1/2 hours.
All in all, everybody seemed to have an enjoyable time and felt Little Mountain would be a good addition to lowland hikes for winter and spring. It is pet friendly and, depending upon the youngster, a reasonable hike for kids. Adjustments could be made to avoid Fred’s Trail for the benefit of little ones. One final note – the bakery at 3rd Street Café was awesome!!!
- Most of the trail system on Little Mountain is multi-use trails meaning foot traffic and bicycles are allowed. We chose to stay mainly on foot traffic only trails with the last leg of our journey limited to a multi-use trail.
- There are pit toilets at the archery range (courtesy of the archery range), at the top, and about ½ way down depending upon your return route.
- There are two other trailheads off Little Mountain road both of which have pit toilets but neither has parking for more than a couple of vehicles.
Report submitted by the hike organizer, Joanie Pryor
Photo by Ron Riter