The Middle Fork, Finding Significance in a Forested Valley
Brad Allen is an engineer, artist, business person, and occasional author. The Middle Fork is both a book and a place.
"An old growth forest is something unique, grand, majestic, primordial. Photos with their fractal ubiquity give no justice to truly large trees. Visits to the 'tree-zoos', the National Parks, bring tamed field trips into groves of trees neatly constrained in their pristine cedar fences. The approach is controlled. maps, handed out at the park entrance gate, fully prepare the invited guest for arrival at the giant. Step into the wild and the experience is spiritual."
The Middle Fork is all about family and forest. I invite you to make family and forest part of your reading experience.
The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River Valley is easy to find just north of I-90 at Exit 34 and the paved road makes access easy.
Below is some great information on visiting the Middle Fork and finding magic in the forest.
The Garfield Giant is hard to approach but may be the tallest tree in the Middle Fork. Initial measurements show it over 260 feet tall.
Visit The Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley
The Middle Fork Road is paved and drivable by any car, motorcycle, or bicycle for the first 12 miles. Access the Middle Fork Road from I-90 Exit 34 just east of North Bend. The map at the right shows where it begins.
Note that many of the trailheads require either a Discovery Pass (Mailbox Peak) or a NW Forest Service Pass (anything past mile 6).
Old Growth Near the Road: (walking required about 100 yards) Towards the end of the pavement at mile 11.5 is the Middle Fork trailhead on your right. Park here. Note the outhouse and the trailhead sign. To the left is a separate path (not the trail) that leads to a picnic area among a small grove of old growth trees. Not true giants, but beautiful old growth.
Hikes: The next four hikes will take you to some fairly easily accessible giant tress. This is about discovery so you will need to find the trees. Take care, don't go places you are uncomfortable in and carry a map.
We highly recommend the Green Trails Middle Fork Snoqualmie Map #174SX
CCC Tree: (about 2 miles round trip) The CCC tree is located just southeast of the Middle Fork Campground. Park at the Middle Fork Trailhead (mile 11.5), cross the road at the crosswalk and follow the CCC trail for about 1 mile (turn left at boardwalk junction).
Follow the trail through some deciduous forest then note a large, burnt stump with logging cable scars. About 700 yards further the tree is off to your left. It is not the big, dead snag to the right, but you are close.
CCC Tree #1 is located down a steep embankment by a stream. It is over 200 feet tall.
Marten Creek Grove: (8 miles round trip) This is my favorite spot in the Middle Fork and sports several giant trees in a grove you feel you can get lost in. To access, cross the bridge over the Taylor River at mile 12 then park at the trailhead. Hike the Snoqualmie Lake Trail #1002 for 2.9 miles to Marten Creek.
Follow the unmaintained trail to the left (south side of creek) towards Marten Lake. You only go a few hundred yards before you are in the grove.
9-Hour Giant: (4.2 miles round trip) This is the star from the title sequence of Dreams in the Wilderness, Stories from the Middle Fork. Start from the Middle Fork Trailhead at mile 11.5 and turn left after you cross the bridge. Walk 2.1 miles and on a straight section through an open forest look to your left. Giants sometimes blend in but this one is in plain sight.
NOTE: As of August 2018 the Middle Fork Trail is closed due to a major, active landslide. The 9-hour giant is not accessible.
Pratt Big Tree: (over 10 miles round trip) The long fabled Pratt Big Tree is accessed by crossing the Wilderness Gateway Bridge at the Middle Fork Trailhead and turning right on the new Pratt River Connector Trail #1035. Three miles later it gets a bit scruffy as you head up to the old railroad grade.
When you come to the Big Trees sign go right like it says then work your way about 1/4 mile down to the Pratt Big tree. It is on your right and about 20 feet from what is only barely a trail at this point.
History in The Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley
Watch the documentary film Dreams in the Wilderness, Stories from the Middle Fork using the link to the left (it's free). A beautiful journey to The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley.
Dreams in the Wilderness is owned by The Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society and we appreciate their permission to offer it to you. It was filmed under their guidance and a King County 4Culture grant.
The Middle Fork is full of history, much of it relates to the North Bend Timber Company's logging in the 20's, 30's, and 40's. Download the map on the left to see where and when the rails were.
Need more history? Visit the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum in North Bend
The Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society has been a key supporter in The Middle Fork book and the search for giant trees. The documentary film was filmed for them and is a key resource in preserving history in The Snoqualmie Valley.