Lime Kiln trail is a curious trail. It’s not extremely steep and you don’t spend half your time laboring to the top of a mountain. There aren’t many picturesque views to be had. Not the classic ones anyway. But is it a cool trail for a morning or afternoon day-hike? Absolutely.
LENGTH: 7 miles round trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 625 feet
And it was pretty crowded when we went, but that’s just what hiking is like on a Saturday morning in May in Washington.
Almost as soon as you’ve passed through the trailhead, you arrive in an old-growth forest of huge old trees covered in soft and creeping moss. They look peculiar because they are very tall and narrow with short little branches extending out of their sides. It’s as if they were once thick and plentiful with many branches, but were suddenly and completely shaved off. Perhaps, as some living things do, they slowly started growing their limbs back. Slow enough to allow a thick moss to cover and linger on their stunted limbs. Or maybe that’s just how they’ve always been. Who am I to judge?
The next section of the trail was wide and sprawling green with taller, thinner trees lining the path. It’s not long though before you leave the light and enter into a more densely covered wooded jungle.
By the way, it was really muddy on this day and we had our friend Chelsea with us – who brought her dog Kap along. Kap was covered in mud by the end of the trip, as were we.
The overcast skies and thick growth along most of the trail made for some really dramatic photos, and I had fun taking macro shots of the moss-covered-everything.
The kiln of Lime Kiln Trail
Close to the end of the trail, you reach the kiln of Lime Kiln trail. The area was once a place where they cooked limestone and smelted ore and chopped down trees to keep the fire of the kiln going, deep in the forest. It’s since been abandoned, but there are parts of tools and metal saws and other old and rusted miscellaneous artifacts that have been left behind. It was like stepping into a different period of time.
Once past the kiln, we continued into the woods and back along the river, the sounds of its rushing currents becoming louder the closer we got. We passed a section of neon yellow moss that was home to a handful of garter snakes. They were sunning themselves and moving too quickly for me to get a great shot. Apparently it’s garter snake mating season over here.
The most rewarding parts of Lime Kiln are the intermittent views you glimpse of the river that runs alongside it. The Stillaguamish river. It isn’t until ¾ of the way to the end of the trail that you get a complete and unobstructed view where you can stand on a wooden bridge and face it. This is a truly beautiful river because of its unique color. A chalky green-gray. Very green. An opaque jade. The sunny skies highlighted its unique color well on the day we saw it.
Once we reached the end of the trail, we had another good view of the river and a large stone bridge that abruptly ends halfway across. It used to be a railroad bridge.
Don’t forget to check out River Shore Loop
We doubled back just a bit and took the River Shore Loop trail (another .2 miles) to the right. I guess I wasn’t really thinking of the name of this side trail and was pleasantly surprised when we suddenly, without warning, reached the river’s edge.
We had lunch on the rocks along the river and basked in the beauty of our surroundings, Kap happily exploring (on-leash) and the milky green waters rushing by. The water level of the river was high. There were dozens of rock assemblages along the river. Tiny towers of teetering stones placed perfectly perfectly and with much purpose. I wonder who made them?
Before we left, I took some photos of Chelsea doing yoga poses. She just graduated yoga instructor school. Congrats, Chelsea!
Save your strength for the uphill portion at the end of the trail. This was one of our first trips of the season and boy were we out of shape!
Oh yeah, there are no trash bins or toilets at the trailhead. So, plan accordingly.