"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." Read more
"Boulder River Trail brings together a great combination of unlikely elements. Old-growth forests and breathtaking waterfalls can be found in many wilderness areas in the Cascades, but the minimal elevation gain and year-round access available here are two pleasant surprises that make Boulder River stand alone. There is a toilet about 1 mile up French Creek Road. There is no drinking water." Read more
"A good hike any time of year, the trail is perfect for beating summer heat, enjoying winter rain, savoring autumn color, or being wooed by waterfalls that are swollen with spring rain. One thing about this trail remains constant: the trees. Whatever the season, you’ll travel through a forest that has defied time. Boulder River’s moss-draped giants represent one of the last remaining large, low-country old-growth forests in the Cascades. Protected within the nearly 49,000-acre Boulder River Wilderness, these ancient trees are as impressive as the wild river they embrace." Read more
"The 259-foot Feature Show Falls splits into two streams midway through its perilous descent down the gorge wall of Boulder River Canyon, showering Boulder Creek below with a constant and always refreshing spray. If it’s a warm summer day, you won’t be alone—the falls is a popular place to cool off. Boulder Falls, a much smaller and less dramatic cascade, is viewable from the main trail 0.25 mile beyond the turnoff for Feature Show Falls." Read more
"Follow the Boulder River on the most popular trail in the Boulder River Wilderness. The trail begins by following a 1909 railroad grade above the river for about 0.5 mile before crossing the Boulder River Wilderness boundary. The rushing sound of Boulder River Falls can be heard in this first section of the trail, but the waterfall itself is obscured by thick underbrush.
It’s unsurprising that the Boulder River Trail is a popular hike. This trail gently takes you through a dramatic and impressive landscape. Once beyond Feature Show Falls, the forest becomes moss-laden and heavy, losing much of the undergrowth prominent in the early portions of the trail. The river remains a nearly constant companion, always within hearing distance even as it slips from view." Read more
"A gentle trail, smooth and level enough for small children, takes families comfortably through old-growth forest beside a glacier-fed river in the Boulder River Wilderness. A magnificent destination is the spectacular wall-curtain waterfall at 1.25 miles. A bit beyond, an open area by the river makes a pleasant camp or lunch stop. One particular reason for preserving this valley as wilderness is that it contains one of the few remaining low-elevation old-growth forests.
Foresters estimate the age of some of the trees at 750 years. All along the path are awesome old-growth Sitka spruce, silver fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, and Douglas fir. The accompanying mosses, ferns, berries, shrubs, and flowers are samples of what, before logging, all the low-elevation North Cascades valleys were like." Read more