Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Cedar Butte Hike – 1/24/14

We’ve had a stretch of lovely, mild weather lately.  In fact, it’s been a very dry winter.  As we were planning our hike for hike last Friday, I pulled out my new Winter Hikes card deck by Craig Romano, and gave the kids a few options to choose from.  I’m feeling motivated to try some hikes that are new to us this winter, so I gave the kids some different styles of new hikes, and they both looked through and picked out Cedar Butte outside of North Bend.

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The Glamorous Cedar Butte

The Cedar Butte Trailhead is near the Rattlesnake Ledges trailhead, and the hike begins along the Iron Horse State Park Rail-Trail.  We were surprised at how balmy it was there at the trailhead.  It had been frosty when we left our house only an hour earlier, but it felt like spring at Rattlesnake Lake.  There was a breeze blowing, but it wasn’t frigid as I had feared.  It didn’t take us long to gear up and hit the trail. The first mile is along the flat and wide Iron Horse Trail.

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Walking along the Iron Horse Trail at Cedar Falls

We made good time past Christmas Lake, but were tempted by the patch of sunshine and a flat rock at the crossing of Boxley Creek.  We sat there and ate some lunch, looking up at the bump of the butte we were about to climb.

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Snack Break with Cedar Butte in the Background

The trail to Cedar Butte is about .25 mile past the Boxley Creek crossing, and is signed off to the right.

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Turn Off Here

The way becomes a proper trail at that point, and begins climbing gently into second growth forest.

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Hurry Up, Mom! Stop Taking Pictures!

We left the dog-walkers behind, and only saw a few other folks on that part of the trail the rest of the day.  After climbing for awhile, the trail levels out as it rounds behind Cedar Butte, traverses a saddle, and then begins a proper climb up to the summit of the Butte.

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Heading Up!

The forest is thick and shady, and there is one brief view of Rattlesnake Ledges before you get to the top.

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Peek-A-Boo View of Rattlesnake Ledges

A bench awaits, and an infamous benchmark, where you can rest and enjoy the view to the east.

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The View Northeast – Where is the Snow?
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I finally have a photo of the infamous “Ceder Butt” survey marker. Snicker snicker….

The breeze was really blowing up there, and we put on our layers and hats as the sweat dried and we cooled off.  We marveled at how little snow is on the mountains, and talked about climate change, the polar vortex in other parts of the country, and our abnormal winter weather. We ate our snacks and drank our cocoa before heading quickly back down the trail at the end of the afternoon.

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Vine Maples with Moss Glowing in the Afternoon Light

My kids enjoyed this hike, though we all felt our lack of conditioning.  I really need to get to the gym more often, so we can get in shape for harder trails this spring and summer.

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Don’t Jump!

If You Go: Park at the Cedar Falls Trailhead near Rattlesnake Lake.  You’ll need a Discover Pass to park.  There are 2 outhouses at the trailhead.  The trail is 4 miles round trip, with 900 feet elevation gain.  While you’re on the Cedar Butte Trail, there will be a junction in the first climbing section; take a right to stay on the gentler maintained trail.  The trail is well signed the whole way, except for in the very beginning, where there is no mention of the Cedar Butte trail. You can get detailed directions and trail information over at Craig Romano’s Hike of the Week site.

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