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Hike of the Week for Friday, April 13, 2012

Big Gulch

A gully good hike in Mukilteo

Article and photo by Craig Romano

Big Gulch
Deep down in the Big Gulch.

Quick Facts

Location: Mukilteo

Land Agency: Mukilteo Parks and Recreation

Contact: Mukilteo and Recreation Department: www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=15

Roundtrip: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 225 feet

Access: From Everett follow SR 526 to SR 525. Turn left (south) on SR 525 and drive .5 mile to 92nd Street. Turn right and then immediately turn left into the 92nd Street Park parking area.

Notes: Dogs must be on leash.

Once logged for its cedars and firs and slated for a massive refinery, today Big Gulch is a southern Snohomish County greenbelt graced with trails and offering some fairly wild roaming just minutes from busy Paine Field. The Mukilteo Parks Department along with a slew of volunteers has recently been building and upgrading trails within this big green gully. Hikers familiar with nearby Meadowdale County Park’s Lunds Gulch will particularly like this hike for its similar features and as a nice alternative destination.

Once owned by the Port Gamble Lumber Company, the gulch and surrounding bluffs were heavily logged in the early 20th century. But a few big trees were left behind in the tight confines of the gulch. In the 1960s the Chevron Oil Company owned the land and proposed a refinery for it. By the 1980s it was slated for the Harbour Pointe development which eventually became part of the city of Mukilteo. While homes and businesses replaced the second and third growth forests on the bluffs, Big Gulch and the Picnic Pont Creek drainages (sometimes referred to as the Chevron parklands) remained green.

The growing city finally decided to utilize the gulch for more than just a greenbelt and make it a trail haven. Locate the signed trailhead for Big Gulch at the southeast corner of the 92nd Street Park. Walk a short distance coming to a junction. The trail left heads back to the sidewalk along SR 525. The trail right utilizing sturdy steps drops into the gulch. The trail work here is topnotch. The ambience here is wild despite the fact that houses and businesses occupy the bluffs above. Throughout most of the gulch you are unaware of that!

Cross Big Gulch Creek on a nice bridge and soon come to a junction with an old road. The way left climbs out of the gulch leading to the Stay Bridge Suites, an alternative starting point. Head right and before coming to a wide bridge immediately come to another junction. The recommended trip is to head left. But go right first a half mile or so on the wide road trail following a sewer line along Big Gulch Creek. The area is pretty wild and the walking quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, after coming to a boardwalk section of trail, the way becomes a muddy mess. The city is hoping to soon upgrade this section and build a topnotch trail through the rest of the gulch.

But for now, best to return to the junction and head right (south) following a tributary up and out of the gulch. This section of trail is very nice passing big trees and small cascades in the tight gully. The way gradually reclaims lost elevation ending its journey at the Mukilteo Library on Harbour Pointe Road. You can either retrace your steps back to the 92nd Street Park or walk Harbour Pointe Road a short distance turning left onto SR 525 returning to the park on a lovely section of sidewalk that offers glimpses down into the emerald gulch.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Big Gulch visit www.snohomish.org.

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