Well, another weekend bites the dust out here in the PNW. This was one of those big weekends again, split between the chaos of packing and the need to get out, enjoy, and explore with the little time we have remaining here at JBLM. We’ve been doing our best to split the balance; explore one day, prep for our move to South Korea the next. So, with Sunday planned for packing and prep, we decided to spend Saturday hiking Cedar Butte Trail in North Bend, WA. We don’t have a lot of weekends left to explore. Our unaccompanied baggage is being packed out today, and our household goods (our real pack out) is in nine days. So, when we can get out, you’d better believe we do!
Hiking Cedar Butte Trail
Some of our favorite hikes are actually in the North Bend – like Garfield Ledges, Winter Block Trail, and Franklin Falls. While we love our hikes in the Rainier area, those require a drive and, of course, a considerable time commitment because of it. North Bend is relatively close at just about an hour away, making it the ideal place to hike for a half day and then head back home. Hiking out here in the summer is incredibly popular because the weather is flawless, so we headed out at 7:30 AM and made it to Cedar Butte Trail just after 8:30 AM.
The parking lot was already almost completely full. Cedar Butte Trail starts flat, sharing a large gravel running and biking path for about the first .7 miles, then shoots up (literally) to the right, winding its way into the mountains. Like our last hike at Marymere Falls, Mieke was ready to take on the hike on her own two feet, and she made it almost 2 miles again before we loaded her into the Deuter – right before the switchbacks began.
Cedar Butte Trail is a bit deceiving. Because it starts so flat and wide and the first portion of the trail is a gradual incline, we were lulled into a false sense of comfort. After about 2 miles though, the climb began in earnest, and we definitely worked up a sweat in the last .3 miles! Thankfully, the hike is mostly shady though, and we were able to stay out of the sun for a good while. The trail, unlike a lot of the others in the area, however, is very narrow, and we were single-file for most of the upwards hike.
The payoff of Cedar Butte Trail is beautiful, if a bit petite. The overlook of the valley below is stunning, and we enjoyed camping out a bit at the top to snack, eat lunch, let the kids get some wiggles out, and enjoy. The top, however, is a bit smaller than some of the other hikes, so we didn’t get to linger too long, as it appears that Cedar Butte Trail is quite popular! The best part of this trail, however, is that it was a bit more challenging, and our kiddos did it with ease, so we’re thrilled to see how much stronger they’ve become during our past year of hiking.
Tips for Hiking Cedar Butte Trail in North Bend, WA
Trail Length: 3.8 miles, though our GPS clocked us closer to 4.2 with the loop at the top
Level of Difficulty: This out and back is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 900+ vertical feet
Cost: You’ll need your Discover Pass for this trail for $10/day
Dogs: Yes! Dogs are allowed on this trail, so long as they’re on a leash
Tips: Bring bug spray, as there are a lot of biting insects under the canopy of trees. I’d also recommend that you hike counter-clockwise at the loop at the top if you’re looking for a slightly less strenuous climb at the very top. We didn’t, and we did just fine, but the grade of the hike is a good bit steeper.