I’m posting a trip report from back in October, since it’s a nice off-season hike for warmer winter and early spring days. It was one of the last sunny, warm days we had before the weather turned more gloomy for the season.
My kids were asking for a hike, yet they also wanted to sleep in, and we had to be back for an evening event. So we picked a hike that wasn’t too far and wasn’t too long. It had been several years (4 or 5?) since we’ve been to Heybrook Lookout, and neither of them remebered it, so I thought it was time to go there again.
The day started in clouds in Puget Sound, but we drove out of the lowland fog and into the warm sunshine. Immediately I regretted wearing my long-sleeve wool shirt, but it wasn’t so bad, it just meant more sweating! The trail traverses the highway for the first section, crossing a couple of small streams.
The roar from passing trucks and cars was loud, and my kids complained for much of the hike about how loud the traffic was. Well, at least you know what true quiet in the wilderness is, I thought to myself.
The trail then begins its climb upward, stepping up roots and rocks and even a few real wooden steps. Big-Leaf Maple leaves carpeted the trail, making Annika a bit unsure of the direction to lead us.
They were softly crisp and swishy, and we watched them fall from the trees with each breath of wind. The kids complained about the climbing (I think they need a flatter trail in their future soon.) We stopped at a bend in the trail for a snack and a drink, and heard some pecking in the trees nearby. A quick search led us to a hairy woodpecker on a slender snag, and we had the fortune to watch it while we snacked. A winter wren and a junco also kept us company during our rest.
Then it was up, up some more, until the trail eventually leveled slightly and the climbing wasn’t so bad.
Ravens squawked as we neared the top of the ridge, and the kids did imitations of the corvid’s sounds. We admired the variety of fungi along the trail, and saw a Douglas squirrel climbing a tree.
Then we could hear the folks who had passed us on the trail, up above in the trees as they climbed the lookout. You don’t really see the lookout until you are right below the last steep section, and it towers above you.
There were a few men in the tower, and an older couple who had passed us on one of our snack breaks. The men told us that the older lady had climbed up and down the tower seven times in a row that morning. I hope I can do that sort of thing when I am her age! We gingerly climbed the stairs to the top of the lookout. I remember being a little freaked out by the stairs when we were there before. This time it felt even more scary, probably due to my advanced age. Annika was unsure of herself; Even Gabe didn’t feel quite secure at the top. We sat down up there for a few minutes and enjoyed the view.
But there were some paper wasps gathering wood from the timbers of the lookout, and the kids didn’t want to get stung, and they were feeling more uneasy with the heights, so we decided to go back down to eat our lunch at the picnic table at ground level. Going down the stairs was pretty scary for Annika, so I had her walk directly behind me and we took it one slow step at a time.
We ate our lunch at the picnic table near the lookout, then headed back down the leaf-strewn trail. The late autumn sun was golden in through the big-leaf maples. We made good time, and got back home in plenty of time for dinner. It was an enjoyable day for all of us.
If You Go: Find directions and detailed trail information over at wta.org. You’ll need a NW Forest Pass to park along the highway at the trailhead. There is plenty of room on the side of the road, but it is a busy highway, so watch little children carefully. There is no porta-potty at this trailhead. The hike is short at 2.6 miles round trip, but it is steep, with 850 feet elevation gain.