“I’m not sure this is a trail, it doesn’t look like one…”
“Looks more like the kind of place you’d expect some reprobate to dump their old fridge.”
‘Highland memorial park’ is barely legible on a crumbling brick wall at the parking lot.
I’ve heard that at one time this was a funeral home with an on-site crematorium.
Other rumors tell of a secret graveyard holding unclaimed remains and strange happenings at night…
I’ve also heard this was a Japanese internment camp during WWII.
In short, I have no idea. I’ll google it later, right now I prefer the mystery.
HERE WE GO
In the distance a Honey Bucket stands just west of the Mukilteo Community Garden shining like a beacon to those in need.
The garden itself is quite nice.
A handful of side trails branch off around here. We continue eastward.
INTO THE GULCH
Soon we pass a tea stained pond, alders lean over its quiet waters and a reef of steel belted radials peacefully languish in the shallows.
Entering a larger stand of trees, our meager footpath intersects with a well traveled path; this is the realm of mountain bikers.
Before long we are able to peer into the bottom of the gulch which is cleanly bisected with the ballast and steel of the BNSF.
“The labyrinth of trails in these woods would make the Minotaur blush, hell who knows, maybe he’s here…watching.”
Heedless of such mythical nonsense we descend deeper into the gulch.
Near the bottom a dangerous looking rope swing dangles by a chain from a maple.
“You only live once, 23-Skidoo!
It turned out to be safer than it looked.
The trail appeared to continue beyond the creek, a waterlogged snag spanned the roiling urban runoff.
On the east bank, a well traveled path led down an old service road lined with alders.
The wind was howling and some of the gusts were incredible. Loud cracks rang out like rifles high in the trees.
“Look! A bridge!”
Graffiti and beer cans welcomed us as we approached.
A trail led up and underneath it but pinched out at a beer drinking spot.
We descended via some steps that had been smashed into the cinder block embankment.
Beyond the bridge the white caps of the Puget Sound beckoned.
A trail dropped off the west side of the grade into a pleasant little grove. Almost immediately we had to cross the creek.
TO THE SEA AND TO VICTORY!
The waters were high because of the storm, and likely rife with “fecal cauliflower” bacteria.
The first crossing wasn’t too difficult, you had your choice of a slick log or a saturated pile of branches to cross over.
The second crossing however had nothing, and was deeper and faster.
Using our advanced primate intellect and highly evolved monkey paws, we hastily constructed a bridge out of fallen branches.
One misstep and you’d be in the fecal cauliflower!
We now had to make a decision, and you can benefit from our experience!
To the west is a train station with a pedestrian overpass, awesome but…
Upon closer examination you’ll find it’s boarded up and impassable. Still under construction apparently.
The tracks are completely fenced in, making an illegal crossing so difficult as to be futile. (Not that you should ever consider such a thing anyway)
Going this route you have to go up and over; Go west on Mukilteo Lane until it turns into Park Ave. Less than a block or so take a right on 2nd St. to the ferry toll booths.
Kind of a long haul for little reason. Avoid the train station.
Instead, continue north across the tracks.
Behind the huge pile of concrete and rusting rebar is an access road turned bike trail.
The shoreline is just off the bike path, and the walking from here on out is as flat as a board.
WHERE TO GO NOW?
Well readers, you have all kinds options!
Will you catch the ferry and continue your journey across the wind and waves?
Did you pack some hobnobbing clothes and reserve a table at the Ivar’s?
How bout a beer at the Knot?
Visit the lighthouse?
All of the above!?
CLOSING THE LOOP
This time around we met a couple other primates at the Diamond Knot for food and merriment!
They were nice enough to drive us back to the car, completing the Japanese Gulch Loop.
For those of you who don’t have the luxury of a ride, and you don’t wanna hoof it up the hill, there is hope.
Community Transit conveniently has a stop next to the Diamond Knot!
You might wanna check it’s schedule ahead of time.I think it’s the bus #113.
Up the hill there is a stop across from Olympic View Middle School at 76th St SW.
From there it’s just a short uphill walk back to where it all began.
Some of the areas on this hike may be on private property, signage in the gulch is confusing and it’s hard to know just who’s land you’re passing through.
Know before you go!
There are many access points into the gulch, the one described here is at a sharp curve at 76th St SW & 44th Ave W.
Since we live in the future, just google “Mukilteo Community Garden”.
I’d guess it’s about three or four miles to the ferry terminal from the “trailhead”.