|Big Leaf Maple leaves at Erinswood|
The closest I came to playing in the leaves this year was hiking over the leaf-covered trails at Erinswood, outside of Index, WA. The leaf coverage was just enough to make the trails and surrounding wooded area seem like autumn, without being too deep to impede passage. Autumn is the perfect season to view the colorful big-leaf maples before they drop and the leaf-covered woods thereafter. It is also the perfect time for the exhibits of fungi on display.
Even without the color of the maples, however, the hike would be beautiful, because of the many stands of western red cedar trees, as well as the ubiquitous moss and ferns of the western Cascades. If you time it right, you can also find salmon- and thimble- berries.
The .8 mile (round trip) trail is located outside of Index, WA, across from the rock-climbing mecca of the Town Wall. There is a medium-packed gravel parking lot. There is no outhouse, and I don't remember there even being Honey Buckets there. The first .1 mile of the trail is accessible, but not officially ADA, leading to a turn-off to Heybrook Ridge.
After that junction, the trail narrows and is encroached upon by brambles and bushes for about .1 mile.
The trail then reaches a .4 mile loop which is wide and relatively flat, with a few short/steep hillocks. I could wheel the entire trail by myself (but I have levers, a large third wheel, big tires, and some muscles). The trail, named after a local resident-hiker with a disability, is intended to become a truly ADA trail, with the addition of a hard-packed gravel surface on top of the dirt. Until this layer is added, the trail has a few roots sticking up, but it is mostly smooth.
There is a small creek, which comes close to the trail at one point, presenting a rocky section and a possible wash-out point.
My biggest question, however, is how one is supposed to get to the ADA trail, since it seems that the only access is down this .1 mile overgrown and narrow trail. If that is resolved and the ADA portion of the trail is completed, this will be a wonderful wheelchair-accessible trail -- short, but full of a variety of beauty.
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