South Fork Nooksack Trail
This trail parallels the South Fork of the Nooksack River. In years past, several families maintained homesteads along this narrow section of the river valley. Now, isolated by current logging on surrounding slopes, a dense canopy of native vegetation has been allowed to grow.
The trail offers several different experiences depending on the time of year. Low elevation snow attracts cross-country skiers to the trail and nearby logging roads. When bitter cold northern winds freeze the ground, it can be a rare treat to walk over frozen marshes and enjoy the sunny bright forest. Hardy hikers wanting a summertime adventure can visit abandoned farm sites as far south as Skagit County, but the lack of trail maintenance can make this more of a bushwhack than a hike.
The Fall salmon run is a special time to visit. Though salmon stocks use the river at other times during the year, the rainy Fall weather provides the most dramatic salmon viewing. There are several places to look for salmon near where you park but the easiest is from the bridge. If you’d like a more intimate experience and don’t mind doing a little wading, then follow the trail south from the bridge as it parallels the river. Mud and spongy ground are a small price to pay as you wander through moss draped trees, clumps of ferns, and lush ground cover. In a little while you’ll cross small creeks. These are the pathways used by the salmon to get to grassy marshes where they spawn. At times the adult salmon fill the creeks forcing you to step over them. While you don’t want to disturb them, don’t be surprised if one gives you a surprise whack as you wade through deeper water. In a mile or so the trail may be completely flooded and it’s best to return at this point.
A winter walk, a summer challenge, or a rainy day salmon hike are all possibilities when you visit the South Fork Trail.
From Route 9, south of Acme, go east 3-1/2 miles on Saxon Road. Park near the Fish Hatchery and the bridge across Skookum Creek. Take care when parking so gates can be opened and large trucks can get by.
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San Juan Islands