Monday, September 26, 2011

Vashon - Island Center Forest

Great level 2.5 mile hike for all hikers right in the middle of Vashon Island. No water or Mountain views on this hike in the Island Center Forest Park - but a nice mostly shaded hike for those seeking something out of the sun.

Finding the trailhead can be a bit tricky for this mid-Island hike on Vashon Island. As you pass the Cemetery on 115th Ave SW and reach a bit of a crest in the hill, look for a small dirt road to the right. The road is marked 115th Ave SW -- but its hard to see unless you are looking for it. If you have reached the Westside Highway (and the route to the Transfer Station) - you have gone too far.

The road to the trailhead is a one lane dirt road that is pretty good condition. You pass a couple residences as you make your way to the gated trailhead at the end of the 115th.

The parking lot offers parking for about 5-6 cars, with a trailhead sign and trash can -- no restrooms or water are available. This is a multi-use area so you can see mountain bikers and horse riders on the trails.

We decided to stick mainly to the main road through the park, its fairly wide, level and well maintained.

There are a number of side trails along this route, many are simple loops or connections to reach the other trailheads servicing the park (Mukai Trailhead off 115th to the North, Westside trailhead off Westside Highway, and 188th trailhead on the east side of the county park). Our first side trip was to do the Forestry Loop off the right (its very short - under 1/3 of a mile).

The forestry trail is mostly gravel, now with some weeds poking through in parts. Its a very serene loop trail - nothing super exciting, but a nice break from the wide road trail. 

After the forestry loop, we continued on the main trail west. We passed down into the Judd Creek area - not much water running this late in summer. At the end of the road, there is a t-intersection with turns for the Dump Run (right) or Craig's trail (left). We decided on Craigs Trail which is the lesser used of the two routes.

Craigs trail is a more narrow trail and fairly flat - but in a good condition. This southern loop trail meets up with the unmarked Mikes Corner Trail which continues to loop to the south. Both of these trail are a bit more off the beaten path and are mostly in the shade.

Mike's Corner will meet up again with the main dirt road - turn right to head back to the trailhead which is less than half a mile away. As an alternate, you can take either of the Cemetery Run or 115th Bypass trails back as well. There are some lamented signs in the Park for some the trails - but not sure how these will hold up. The County Park map is mostly accurate -- as with most Northwest trails, when it doubt stay with the most established trail if there is no sign showing the way.

Area - Island Center Forest (Vashon Island)
Trails - Main Road/Grinder, Forestry Loop, Craig's Trail, Mikes Corner (Trail Map)
Length - 2.5 miles roundtrip - Easy Hike
Duration: 1 hour
Trail - Gravel and dirt trails - some signs, bring this trail map
Bikes - Allowed on this hike
View - No views, but plenty of shaded forest
Getting There - From Vashon Highway, turn right on SW Cemetery Road (headed west), once at the Cemetery look for small dirt road on your right (115th Ave SW). Good Map of Vashon Island parks and natural areas is here.
Fee- None, free parking
Weather - Mostly shaded
Other Trails - Some other connecting trails to other parts of the area including Mukai Pond and Meadowlake Pond. 

Island Center Forest - Vashon Island at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking near Tacoma, Washington