Thursday, April 23, 2009

Charles L. Pack Experimental Forest, April 22, 2009

This is one of my favorite hikes in spring. The Pack Forest is not far from Eatonville and in late April we are pleased to report that spring has finally arrived. We hiked several of the trails within Pack Forest, including the Reservoir trail, the Hugo Peak trail, Trail of the Giants and a few of several nature trails. You can pick up a map at the gatehouse (the entrance of Pack Forest) that is a must if you have not hiked these trails before. There are also interpretive guides at some of the trailheads (Trail of the Giants, Hugo Peak).

Wildflowers have returned - we saw trilliums, yellow violets, red flowering currant, Calypso orchids and coltsfoot. The forested trails are "greening up", flowers are blooming and alas, mosquitoes have also returned.

We ended up hiking about 6 miles with roughly 850 feet of elevation. If you hike the Hugo Peak trail (it begins from the gatehouse) it is about 5 miles with roughly 950 feet of gain. You can also start from trailhead parking, a little further up the entrance road. Parking is on the left side of the road, the Hugo Peak trail is well signed - it starts a little further up the road just past trailhead parking.

Getting to the trailhead: From Seattle go south on I-5, get off at Exit #133 (South 7) and follow signs to Mount Rainier (on State Route 7). You'll go through Eatonville and Elbe. Just before you get to Le Grande find Pack Forest (left), well signed and hard to miss.

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