Outdoors

Trail of the week

Green River Natural Area

HIKE DESCRIPTION: I thought I had the well-maintained trails of the 1,000-acre Green River Natural Area to myself until I heard splashing in the river. Three deer had seen me before I saw them, and they weren’t interested in hanging around for pictures. They bolted for shore and disappeared into the trees.

Some of the trails along the river between Auburn and Enumclaw are still under construction, but it’s quite easy to link sections of good trail together for an enjoyable trip on foot or by bike or horse. Start by heading down the access road 1.2 miles past moss-covered trees to the Green River. Here you’ll find a picnic table and kiosk with a map. From here, follow the undulating Potter’s Trail 1.4 miles to a grassy opening and more access to the river. After returning via the same trail, use the kiosk map to plot a route out of the valley and back to your car.

You’ll have several options, all traveling through a mixture of evergreen, hardwood and cottonwood trees. The trails are well marked. I followed the 0.8-mile Three Bridges Trail (You’ll never guess how many bridges you’ll cross) with a quick side trip on the 0.25-mile Kaponis Trail. Then I linked to the 0.5-mile (and rougher) Hop Craze Trail. Hop Craze dumped me back on the access road just 0.3 miles from the parking area.

DIRECTIONS: From Auburn, follow Auburn Way (state Route 164) southeast toward Enumclaw. Turn left on Southeast 380th Place, then make a quick right on 160th Place Southeast. The road becomes Southeast 384th Street. Continue east to 188th Avenue Southeast. Turn left and follow the road until it ends at a small parking area.

DIFFICULTY RATING: 2-3 depending on route (1=easiest, 5 = most difficult).

MILES ROUND TRIP: 5.5 (Can be extended or shortened.).

ELEVATION GAIN: 1,000 feet.

BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: Year-round.

MAP: A Green River Natural Area brochure, including a map, is available at kingcounty.gov.

PASS: None needed.

ALSO: The park is open to bikes and horses. Some sections of trail are steep and have loose rock, making for challenging bike riding. There are several geocaches hidden near the trails. The King County Department of Natural Resources says the Green River Natural Area provides critical salmon habitat protection and preservation. Check state regulations and get the appropriate licenses before fishing.

INFO: kingcounty.gov.

Craig Hill, craig.hill@thenewstribune.com

@AdventureGuys

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