Boulder River Trail

Boulder River Wilderness Area, Washington

Distance3.9mi
Elevation Gain2,547ft
Trailhead Elevation937ft
Top1,552ft
Elevation Min/Max932/1552ft
Elevation Start/End937/937ft

Boulder River Trail

Boulder River Trail is a hiking trail in Snohomish County, Washington. It is within Boulder River Wilderness Area. It is 3.9 miles long and begins at 937 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 7.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,547 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking.

Boulder River Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Hikes with Dogs: Western Washington (The Mountaineers Books)
Dan A. Nelson
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"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
60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Seattle - Including Bellevue, Everett, and Tacoma (Menasha Ridge Press)
Andrew Weber and Bryce Stevens
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"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
Day Hiking: North Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Romano
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"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
Hiking through History Washington (Falcon Guides)
Nathan and Jeremy Barnes
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"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
Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Joan Burton
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"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

Boulder River Trail Reviews

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7/20/2018
A beautiful hike! Wonderful waterfalls, pretty mossy trees, fun bridges to cross, and it is just gorgeous. It is an easy, exhilarating hike once you actually reach the trailhead -- be prepared for a rough road filled with potholes for about 3 miles.
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5/9/2010
Spectacular hike! Beautiful falls and well-maintained trail. Fairly easy-going for the 1st 1/2 of the hike w/level ground while the last 1/2 is a bit rocky with moderate incline. We brought our 1.5 year old in a back pack and I felt fairly safe for most of the hike. There is a drop off on one side of the trail so if you do bring your children they will need to be watched closely. FYI: the 4 miles on French Creek road to the trail you are on a narrow, gravel road with a ton of deep pot holes. It's tough on your vehicle. (drop off on one side for those who get nervous w/heights)
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2/15/2010
This is a great hike/walk if you are a visitor. Walk along the Sound and there are some great views of the Narows Bridge. It is very pretty, a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate. Looks awsome but not as amazing as the Golden Gate. Good place to spend time, no serious hiking, family walks.
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11/16/2009
This is a well kept trail and easy hike and really beautiful walk. It takes you along a stream and you can see at least two waterfalls on the way. Romantic hike if you ever want to propose to you significant other :)
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9/4/2009
The waterfalls on this hike offer some amazing views, however they are within the first few miles both -- the rest of the hike offered some good views of the river but the last leg I felt didn't give much of a payoff unless you were planning on camping out toward the end of the trail.
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7/27/2008
This is a great trail for those of you with spring fever and eager to get out for an overnight camping trip as early as June. I hiked all the way to the end of the trail and over-nighted, but there are bunch of camp sights right at mile one where the falls are located (great if you have kids!) Whether you choose to camp at the first stop or go all the way to the end, it's a great test trail for a new pack or gear as you can work out all the "kinks" without a lot of elevation gain or other obstacles. The scenery doesn't change much past the first mile or two so if you don't choose to go the whole way you won't miss a lot, but the camp sight at the end is a lot more private and quiet. Be prepared for any inconvenience as there is no cell reception here. Have fun!!!
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1/31/2008
Picked this trail due to its reputation as a low altitude "winter hike". Given recent snow conditions, though, we had to park just 1/4 mile up the FSR by the power lines and had to hike through 4 inch snow the 4 miles to the trail head. From there the snow got progressively deeper until it was about 2 feet deep a mile in. Slogged on for another mile to the log bridge but bailed at that point. Multipe downed trees along the way. Both falls were beautiful, amplified by the solitude and the snow all over the river rocks.
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5/6/2006
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.
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4/30/2006
For a trail that is only a few miles off the highway, this was truly gorgeous. The mossy trees and old growth was beautiful, the falls were spectacular (full of water at this time of year), and the trail was easy enough that our 2.5 year old hiked at least a mile on the way home. Very nice lunch spot at the base of the falls.
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2/27/2006
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!
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Trail Information

Boulder River Wilderness Area
Nearby City
Boulder River Wilderness Area
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
Camping, Mountain Biking
Additional Use
Waterfalls
Features
Verlot Public Service Center, 33515 Mountain Loop Hwy., Granite Falls, WA 98252; (360) 691-7791; fs.usda.gov/mbs
Local Contacts
USGS Meadow Mountain; Green Trails Map #77 (Oso), #109 (Granite Falls)
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018