On the Trail
I hiked the Brownie Trail on two separate occasions recently. The first visit was with out-of-town friends who wanted a short walk to stretch the legs and walk the dogs.
It’s nice to be in an area with so many opportunities for outdoor recreation nearby.
I initially thought of the West Fork Sylvia Creek Trail, but forgot it’s closed. Fortunately, there’s a big map at the trailhead showing the other Montesano City Forest trails. The Brownie Trail looked easy to find and nearby.
A group of mountain bikers — some of whom I’d met before, but didn’t immediately recognize — were congregated at the trailhead. They gave us a copy of the city forest map that’s available online and pointed us to the trailhead.
The Brownie Trail starts on the Sylvia Ridge Trail, which parallels the B-line.
The Brownie Trail heads into a second-growth forest and makes a slight descent towards Lake Sylvia. The most amazing thing was the profusion of oxalis along the forest floor.
Oxalis looks like three-leaf clover. I almost expected leprechauns, sprites and brownies to be hiding behind the trees. We hiked a short distance, maybe a quarter-mile or so, and headed back along parallel B-300 and B-310 — logging roads that sees little traffic thanks to the gate at its mouth. Foxglove, daisies and dozens of other flowers sprouted up amidst tall grass in the sunshine of the road.
The following week, I walked from my house to the southern terminus of the Brownie Trail, by the Lake Sylvia dam to hike the full trail. Although the trail is just a 1.5-mile loop, my total hike was about 6 miles.
From this side, the trail begins with a steep ascent into a dark forest. Soon, the trail enters a dense patch of overgrown brush and bramble that soon gives way to another patch of dark forest. Little sunlight filtered to the forest floor, devoid of most vegetation.
There are a few switchbacks, but the steep climbing generally gave way to a more gradual ascent.
At the end of one of the switchbacks, the trail seemed to split; the more traveled path made a switchback, the alternative headed straight ahead. Generally speaking, when walking on an unfamiliar trail, don’t heed Robert Frost: take the more well-traveled path.
After a bit, I found remnants of a sign explaining the trail was made in 1983 for Arbor Day by Brownie Troops 135 and 530. So much for my leprechaun idea.
After this was a grove of massive stumps, many serving as nursery logs for mature trees. Then, I soon came to trail I’d hiked the prior weekend. I finished up by following the trail to its terminus and returning via B-300. The road comes to an apparently unmarked juncture with B-310; keep left on B-310 (you can see the trail in places through the trees).
Some day I’ll explore the rest of B-300, which heads to a junction with the Sylvia Creek Forestry Trail.
The logging road ends at a footpath that connects in a few dozen feet with the Brownie Trail and solved the mystery of the less-traveled path.
The Brownie Trail and B-300/310 make what I call a “lollipop” loop, you hike in and out on the stick and around the loop.