Our Hiking Time: 3h
Total Ascent: 400ft
Highest Point: 1300ft
Total Distance: 5 miles
Location: N 47° 8.7000, W 121° 56.0400
Required Permit: None
After weeks of being laid up with a fairly severe heel injury, we’re finally back on the trail. Unfortunately, bone bruises need months to fully heal, so we’re easing back into our hiking routine, sticking to moderate elevations and well-maintained trails. The Rim Trail at Mud Mountain Dam fit the bill perfectly, and gave us a chance to head back out to the 410 area in some nicer weather.
Before the Mud Mountain Dam was built, farmers from Enumclaw to Puyallup would endure nearly annual flooding of the White River. For decades, farmers attempted to control the waters by dynamiting new river channels, pushing the flow away from their land and onto others. As Washington’s population grew, the flooding problem became more acute, and the Army Corps of Engineers was called in to find a solution. Their recommendation of an earth-fill dam located seven miles southeast of Enumclaw was authorized by Congress in 1936. The project, which would eventually entail 2.3 million cubic yards of sand, rock, and gravel, was delayed by World War II and was not completed until 1948. Since that time the dam has saved hundreds of millions of dollars in flood damage.
The trail begins at the entrance to the Mud Mountain Dam Recreation Area, following the fence for a short distance to the bluffs above the White River. As the name suggests, the route hugs the rim of the White River Gorge, offering glimpses of waterfalls and distant vistas through cottonwoods, alders, and the occasional evergreen. Although the trail crosses a number of roads that lead down to the river, trail makers do a decent job of minimizing confusion. Depending on how much exploring you’re up for, you may find yourself wandering through mixed forests and marshes down to sandy riversides.
This gentle multi-use trail is open to bikers, equestrians, and hikers. Accessible all year, this is a perfect option for an off-season hike. The playground and picnic area makes for a nice family outing during the summer, and the Rim Trail is toddler-friendly enough to bring the whole family on. Although the trail is over six miles long, there are multiple access roads that break up the distance, offering the opportunity to explore the trail in smaller sections. Relatively close to civilization and easy, this hike is a good excuse to dust off your gear and get a jump on hiking season.
To get there, take I-5 south to Highway 18 Exit 142A. Follow Highway 18 into Auburn and take the SR 164 exit. Head left on SR 164 through Enumclaw to SR 410. Head left onto SR 410 for a few miles to the well-signed Mud Mountain Road. Take a right and continue about 2 miles to the Mud Mountain Recreation Area. You can opt to park inside the gates during the summer, but keep an eye on the time – they close at 4pm. -Nathan
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