The Lime Kiln Trail is found just outside Granite Falls, WA in Snohomish County. This beautiful trail is full of amazing views and a very cool (and historic) ending destination: a Lime kiln. Used on the Monte Cristo Railway, it turned lime blocks into powdered lime.
The Lime Kiln Trail was constructed a few years ago by Snohomish County with help from Volunteers for Outdoor Washington, and it is now part of Robe Canyon Historic Park. Take time to read about the area’s history at the trailhead – it will make your trip more all the more rewarding. The old railroad was built in 1892 and serviced the mines until 1920 and the logging industry until 1934. There are several artifacts of this era along the trail. The WTA does ask that you leave them as they are for other hikers to enjoy (I also can’t see hiking with a rusted saw blade as fun, but you know).
The trail meanders through second-growth forest, goes along a few logging roads, passes by little Hubbard Lake, and surfaces on a wide ledge with views of Robe Canyon and the roaring Stillaguamish (which runs at peak volume in late fall and early spring). The actual lime kiln is at 2.75 miles, and it’s in this area that you will find all sorts of things left behind by the men who mined the area.
The trailhead has great parking. It does fill up in the summer. Note that there is NO parking permitted on the roadside at any time. They can (and do) tow cars that park here. There have been known break-ins in the area, so it is best to not leave valuables in the car at all (and if comfortable doing so, leave cars unlocked so windows don’t get smashed).
No bathrooms that we could see. Make sure you bring necessary items in case you need to use the woods, and before arriving, make a pit stop in Granite Falls. (If you want to make peeing in the woods easier for the ladies, give the GoGirl a try!)
Be sure you read the Lime Kiln history on the BACKSIDE of the trailhead bulletin board before you go. It will make the artifacts and kiln more interesting. You can also see some of the same old photographs and information here.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this hike so much is that you can turn around at any time (even if you don’t make it to the kiln) and still have fun. The scenery is breathtaking and the song birds, berries and sights are enjoyable. If you are worried about the length, just head in and turn around whenever you want. I think for starters, stopping at the kiln and heading back is a great length. If you know your abilities and can do the extra 1.4 miles to the river (roundtrip), I highly suggest it.
There are warnings about bears and cougars. Please make sure you know what to do if you encounter wildlife. The biggest trick is to be chatty on the trail. If they hear you coming, they won’t be interested in sticking around. Learn more about bear safety here.
Look at that bear scat!! The kids were a little spooked, but when I reminded them about our bear safety practice, they seemed to feel a bit more confident. And I just told them to chit-chat with each other because if they hear you, they’ll want to leave. That really seemed to help them feel better.
Endless beauty on this trail. There isn’t one ugly section. And listen for all the birds!! It’s fantastic!
On the bridge below, look around for a surprise! You just may find a fairy house! (Check out the gallery at the end for a closer peek.)
There are logs you have to step over. It isn’t difficult for the average person, but keep this in mind if you are hiking with slower individuals, or those that struggle with steps and balance. Most everyone can do this trail, but some may need assistance in these areas.
The Kiln sneaks up on you! We were walking along and then, OH!! There it is!! You can walk all around the kiln. The mossy walls are so interesting. Take some time to look for random artifacts. They are rusted and can be camouflaged against the woods. See if the kids can find the saw blade stuck in a tree trunk!
If you want to continue .7 more miles to the river, I highly recommend the trek (remember that will add 1.4 miles to your hike there/back). The Stillaguamish River’s color is jaw-dropping. Be sure you pay attention to the strength of the river before you venture down to the bank. Spring/Fall it will be at its highest, and fast.
Bring a snack and spend some time enjoying the river. There isn’t a bad place to sit!
GALLERY OF LIME KILN TRAIL, GRANITE FALLS, WA
Google Maps does a great job of guiding you there. Just ensure you type in “Lime Kiln Trailhead” otherwise it may try to guide you to the actual kiln. 🙂
From I-5, take exit 194 (Hwy 2) eastbound 2.1 miles to the exit for Hwy 204/Lake Stevens. Go 2.6 miles and make a left onto Hwy 9 and go north for 1.7 miles. Turn right on SR 92 and drive 8.2 miles to Granite Falls.
In Granite Falls, take a right on North Alder Street, then a left on Menzel Lake Road and drive 1.2 miles to Waite Mill Road. Go a half mile to the bus turnaround and drive down the left branch until you reach the trailhead.
Where: Just outside Granite Falls, WA in Snohomish County
Distance: 2.75 miles to the kiln, an additional .7 to the river’s edge; roundtrip is 6.3-7 miles
Elevation Gain: About 700 feet (aprx 160′ gain going in, 300′ going out)
Level of hike: Easy — but!! The elevation gain can be difficult and there are logs to climb over and bridges to balance across. Take into account your own physical abilities. Be sure to look at the gallery for detailed trail pictures and obstacles! We had 4 kids with us ages 7-13 and they all did it with ease.
My favorite review of this train on AllTrails.com is the following (because real life — easy doesn’t always mean easy for everyone!):
Heads up to the fellow chubbies who are just rolling off the couch looking for an easy first hike to get you back in the game…..this hike is not for you. This will be a good one after about 2 weeks of “easy” hikes. It has a good up hill climb. I say this as a chubby girl so you fit athletic people can just skip right over this review. It is beautiful and relaxing, but it is far from a chubby girls definition of a “easy” hike.” – AllTrails.com, By: Becca Walters (5 Star Review)
Get out there and have some fun! We loved this trail and I KNOW you will too!