Hiking the Historic Lime Kiln Trail

Hiking the Historic Lime Kiln Trail

By: Shelby April 24, 2016 11:17 pm 0 comments

It’s been a crazy long time since we’ve been hiking. Our last hike was in February! And it was a snowshoe!! Ever since we began the house-hunting adventure, there’s been almost no time to get outside. Luckily, we’ve achieved our goal and bought a house! That means we’re done for the year now, right? We can just coast, right? Maybe. Either way, now that we’re finally feeling settled into the house, we took a day to ourselves and went on a nice local hike. The weather in Seattle has been freaking gorgeous for the past couple of weeks. So of course, on the one day we can go hiking, it’s forecasted to rain. That’s okay! Rainy days are what river hikes are for.

LimeKiln header image

I’d known of the Lime Kiln Trail near Granite Falls for a while now, but it seemed like one of those overly popular trails that was also overly popular with people who like to break into cars at trailheads. I never had any major desire to do it before, but this weekend just felt right for it. And I’m so glad we did hike it! It was just what we needed.






We had a bit of a late start, so despite only living an hour from the trailhead, we arrived at 11:30 and were on our way. The parking lot was almost full. The trail starts just on the edge of the sleepy town of Granite Falls, in Robe Canyon Historical Park. Despite being so close to town, and even just on the other side of the river from the Mountain Loop Highway, (and some of the trail is even on private property) the hike feels incredibly peaceful and remote.


I love maidenhair ferns

I love maidenhair ferns

Robe Canyon Historical Park is 970-square acres of wilderness along the Stillaguamish River that contains many bits of the historical railroad line that used to go from the now ghost town of Monte Cristo to Everett. The rail line followed the river, which was apparently a terrible strategy, as structures were often washed away in floods. Despite this, the rail line operated until the 1930s.

We had started the trail with a couple of other large groups but quickly overtook them and had the trail mostly to ourselves. We saw maybe 15-20 other groups along the way, but the trail never felt crowded.

We’re a bit out of hiking shape so we were glad at the relative lack of elevation change (625 ft over 3.5 miles of trail), and the 7 mile distance felt just right.

While we were on private property, the trail felt just like an old road, going straight back through bright forest. The trail turned off the road after a little more than a mile and became much darker and more closed in as it descended into the canyon. Moss dripped from the trees and the undergrowth became overgrowth.

Hey there little guy!

Hey there little guy!

About 2.5 miles in, we started stumbling upon leftover artifacts, and then came upon the lime kiln structure itself, looming out of the dark jungle.


the lime kiln

the lime kiln

We found saw blades, bits of chain, and other artifacts strewn about. It was a very creepy looking structure that felt a bit like the ruins of Isengard. We didn’t linger for too long here, but instead continued down the trail almost another mile to its end.





The trail ends in a small loop that dips down to the river’s edge. There was a wide rocky beach where we sat and enjoyed our (extremely, extremely delicious) Trader Joe’s Chocolate PB&J bars. We had the place mostly to ourselves until a pod (school? herd?) of kayakers pulled up out of the water to rest, and more hikers came down from the trail.






Happy kayakers

Happy kayakers




For this hike, since I knew there wouldn’t be spectacular open views, I pulled out the 50mm lens for the first time in forever. I forgot how much I like this lens! There was so much greenery and hordes of flowers. It’s going to be an amazing year for greenery!




some blue sky came out!

some blue sky came out!


So many ferns!

So many ferns!


We finished the hike around 2:45, feeling tired but happy to have been outside again! We can’t let it go this long before we have another hike.

No pass or permit required!

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