This hike is relatively short, but also low elevation and close to home, making it a good choice for when you have limited time, sketchy weather or want to take the kids to play by the Skagit River.
Sunday afternoon provided clear skies, but also only a short window for me to escape out the South Skagit Highway to make a first visit to this trail.
Located on Skagit Land Trust property, the Cumberland Creek trail is located at about the 12.5 mile mark on the South Skagit Highway (which intersects Highway 9 where it crosses the Skagit River between Sedro-Woolley and Clear Lake.
It's about a 20 minute drive from Sedro-Wooley or about 35 minutes from Mount Vernon.
I've only been up the Skagit Highway a couple times so it was nice to find out there is a quality view of Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters range from this route.
The trail head is easy to find: just turn left at the marker indicating 34183 South Skagit Highway and look for the gate. Park where there is room, without blocking the neighbors driveway.
At the gate you'll find a Skagit Land Trust sign, and hopefully you'll also find an interpretive trail map. This map is actually very interesting and informative. Grab one if you can.
This is an interpretive trail with five specific stations to visit. The pamphlet has a rough map on the back and tells a lot of interesting facts about each of the five markers. My route direction involved staying to the left until reaching the river, then took the middle route on the way back and then the trail on the right out to the river again.
Here is an image of my route (it's more precise than the pamphlet map).
The route follows an old road from the gate to station #1.
Notice that the markers are simply that: markers. You'll wish you had a pamphlet to read all about what you didn't know.
Staying to the left after Marker #1 will bring you to the oxbow lake and also a tree-mounted shelter for homeless ducks at Station #4.
Continuing on will bring you to marker #5, at the river. There is a nice riverfront beach here. It's not very sandy, but it has a nice shoreline and the river (well, before the current round of rain) was calm, quiet, clear and shallow. A nice place to relax, have a picnic, or cool your feet in the shallow water.
Well, it was nice and relaxing, until I stumbled across this salmon carcass. this is the not-gruesome version.
Along the way I noticed this HUGE leaf. Not sure what tree it was from... not a maple, thought it might be an alder (but alders don't usually produce such large leaves). Maybe it's a Cottonwood? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Eventually passed Marker #2 where the pamphlet points out the numerous tree varieties in the area. Found a chatty squirrel while taking pics of trees with moss and ferns.
Eventually I reached checkpoint #3 down near the river on the right portion of trail in the above map. Here I found a more rocky beach with less shoreline and animal tracks in the sand.
All in all it was a nice hike. Just under 3.5 miles of trail and elevation gain must be less than 20 feet.
Here is a short video from the river and also of the squirrel who wasn't too happy about my visit:
Thanks, Vince, for writing up this trail, otherwise I probably never would have known it existed.
For those of you looking for a little bit 'more', try locating some of the waterfalls in the area via http://aaronswaterfallworld.tripod.com/skagitcounty.htm