Cow Heaven . . . Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Marblemount, WA . . . back in the days when the U.S. Forest Service leased out land for cattle grazing, a local farmer herded his cattle up a steep trail to the meadows on top . . . that’s how this trail got it’s name. Not much about the trail has changed over the years . . . it’s still a steep 4,000 foot climb, a narrow trail full of tight switchbacks cutting up through a thick forested mountain . . . and ten miles round trip … except the Forest Service no longer leases this land out for grazing . . . so there are no cattle up there now . . . and the forest itself has grown up tall so blocks the beautiful mountain views . . . and the meadows up top have given away to bushes, brush and trees.
There’s plenty of water on the way up . . . and several dicey stream crossings. Wear good waterproof boots if you make this hike. Did I already mention the elevation gain along this trail is 4,000 foot? It’s a challenge to make it to the top . . . so most people pass this trail by. Once you finish the switchbacks . . . and just before you reach exhaustion . . . you can almost see the sky above you because you are close to the top . . . but turns out, that’s just a teaser . . . because next thing, the trail takes you around to the back, dark side of the mountain . . .
And that’s when the mosquitos start swarming you. They wouldn’t leave me alone . . . I put on a long sleeved shirt, pulled my headband down over my ears, put my hat on . . . tucked my pant legs into my socks . . . and they still swarmed me. They bit me through my shirt . . . my shoulders were on fire. Turns out, I am the perfect mosquito bait!
I stopped just a few minutes short of the top . . . and turned around . . . I could see it was grown over so in order to get a good view of all those beautiful mountains from up there, I would have had to do some bush whacking up yet another little hill . . . and there were just too many mosquitos swarming me to do that . . . so I turned around . . . and made the long, steep hike back down to the trailhead.
I had the entire trail nearly to myself . . . when I started out, there was a young man with his 3-month baby that did just the very beginning of the hike . . . and about half way up the hill, another young fellow jogging up passed me . . . running up the steep hill . . . a tough run … ha, a tough hike.
This is a great conditioning hike . . . the trail is in reasonably good condition even though it gets little use . . . and the forest is absolutely lovely, deep and dark. Saw a few surprise pretty wildflowers blooming . . .
A cute little squirrel chattered at me for awhile as I made my way down.
I seriously feel we should change the name of this trail from Cow Heaven to Mosquito Hell . . .