Boulder River

Arlington, Washington 98223

Boulder River

Boulder River Professional Review and Guide

"Like many of the trails in the lower reaches of the Cascades, the Boulder River Trail begins in dense second-growth forests that sprang up (unaided) after the area was logged decades ago. But unlike most other low trails, this one quickly leaves the tight stands of alder and spindly hemlock and fir to enter an ecosystem all too rare in today’s North Cascades—lowland oldgrowth forest.

The trail begins along an old railroad grade. At one point just 0.25 mile from the trailhead, you’ll find yourself on a long section of railbed supported by a massive stone wall on the side of a steep slope. In less than a mile, you’ll enter the Boulder River Wilderness Area."

Boulder River Reviews

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It is a beautiful rolling trail in a gorge carved by the Boulder River. The trail is in quite good shape and rarely muddy considering the weather we have been having lately. A couple of log crossings of small feeder streams are out, but the streams can be crossed without getting your boots wet if you are careful. The lacy waterfalls were spectacular and we saw lots of wildflowers: trilliums, salmon berries, yellow violets, and bleeding hearts. Also imprssive are the huge old growth trees, both downed and still living.
Boulder River trail ranks as a great (below snow line)winter hike. We did the trip in mid February,2006 on a cold but clear day (in Western Washington that, of course, means no rain). For average hikers it ranks as easy with little elevation change. Distance, 7.5 miles, and some rocky areas with high step-downs and step-ups makes it a bit much for kids under 8 yrs... yet the first two miles would be fine for youngsters. Views of the river, canyons, and occasional falls coming down the canyon side are superb. In February several of the falls were frozen which made them all the more picturesque. The camp spot at trails-end makes a great level lunch spot. Although comments by other reviewers have lamented a muddy trail, I didn't think it was any worse than most other valley mountain hikes (always better to wear hiking boots than tennis shoes) Enjoy!
Fairly easy hiking with nice views of waterfalls at a couple different areas. You are not at the river level, but do have an opportunity to hike down to it. There is some erosion in spots and small children and some pets need to be watched in some areas. A part of the trail that leads to the last mile was washed out last year. It is passable with some slight climbing. We did not cross, so I can vouch if the rest is passable. It is moderately used and you will see other hikers.

Boulder River Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
6 hours
March through December
Mount Baker National Forest
Local Contacts
Green Trails Oso No. 77, Granite Falls No. 109
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018