December 10, 2012

Little Mountain

Filed under: Hiking — geezerwriter @ 8:35 pm

This morning after working out at the gym I drove down to Skagit County to check out Little Mountain Park, which is the location of this week’s outing of the Senior Trailblazers. It is at the southern city limit of Mount Vernon and seems to be a city park but there is also some involvement of the Skagit Land Trust, the Mount Vernon Parks Foundation and the Mount Vernon Trail Builders. This last group has packed almost 8 miles of trails into less than a square mile on a hill that rises almost 1000 feet on the edge of town – it is prominently visible east of I-5 as you pass Anderson Road (exit 225).

little-mountain-trail-map1We put it on the schedule at Pat’s suggestion at the August meeting but as of this morning all I knew about the place was this map that I’d found on the Trail Builders web site. Most of the trails are located near the main entrance on the access road that comes in from the north and start about halfway up the mountain. Since we usually go about 8-10 miles with a couple of thousand feet of elevation gain, I was drawn to that lonely little red line that goes off to the south. The point where it meets Hickox Road is at only 80 feet above sea level, which would give us a good bit more elevation gain and some distance. There is even an indication of parking there.

But: The trail, called the Darvil (or maybe Darvill) trail seems to be crossing private land and I couldn’t see any parking lot on Google Earth. I could see a number of houses and businesses along Hickox Road, so I wasn’t at all sure that we would be welcome there. It seemed like a personal visit was the best way to check this out.

(BTW that Darvill trail, from the road up to the park boundary, is 0.57 mile long, to give a sense of scale. And the red trails are hiker-only; the blue are multi-use, i.e. mountain bike)

Boots on the Ground (well, shoes really)

As I drove down Hickox Road there was a bit of traffic, so I couldn’t go as slow as I wanted, but I could see no sign of any sort of parking lot, just a lane or driveway cleaving the woods in the general area. I had to go on for awhile before I could turn around and make another pass, but this time there were no cars behind me and I could really creep along. As I approached the aforementioned lane I saw a little tiny sign at the edge of the woods announcing (very quietly) what I thought was the “Darril” trail, and I could spy a bit of trailishness going off into the woods. Still no sign of a parking lot, but as I passed the lane I could see over my shoulder something other than trees. On my third pass I drove hesitantly into the lane (which is clearly a driveway, since I could now see the mailbox) and found a little hollow in the trees with a couple of signs describing the trail and urging users to respect the private property they would be crossing.

So this is the place. There appears to be room to pack in two or (with a shoehorn) three cars. But it still felt more than a little iffy, so I drove around to the main park entrance and drove up as far as the hairpin turn and walked a few hundred feet along 5 or 6 of the trails that meet the road at that point. I found some very nice trails through a pretty woods; the tracks have a nice amount of leaves and other organic matter; some really steep spots; and the multi-use trails are as nice as the hiker-only.

The Bottom Line

When I got home I sent an email to the contact addresses on the Trail Builders web site and got back a very prompt reply saying that it is indeed OK to park at the Darvil trailhead. I also found a chart on the website giving the lengths of all the trails and added that data to the map, which you can see here: little-mountain-trail-map1. I worked out a route starting at the Darvil TH and covering about 5 miles (with no backtracking) before arriving at the overlooks on top of the mountain. And even though the net elevation gain will only be about 900 feet, from what I saw of the trails there will be a lot ups and downs along the way.

I think we can have a very nice hike there. And if by chance we have too many cars, or there are others parked at the Darvil TH, it is only a five-minute drive to the main entrance.

Create a free website or blog at