Paradise Valley Conservation Area
Since it’s raining this weekend, I decided to pull up the photos from a hike we took at Paradise Valley Conservation area at the end of January. It was a surprisingly nice day, and it reminds me of the nice weather to come! We get a bit cooped up during the winter, so we had to get out and hike, even though we didn’t have a lot of spare time. Recently, I found a park near home that looked like it would be perfect for a short hike. Paradise Valley Conservation is only a few miles away in Woodinville Washington, about two miles from highway 522.
Since this was the nicest day of the year so far, a lot of people wanted to be outdoors, and the parking lot at Paradise Valley Conservation Area was packed. We actually had to wait a minute for someone to leave for us to get a parking spot. I doubt parking is that difficult most of the year, but on the first nice day of the year, it’s packed.
The park is 793 acres, with about 10 miles of trails that loop through the park and criss-cross. You can very easily take a much shorter hike by taking a smaller loop, or hike the full 10 miles by crossing your previous route a few times. There are signs at every intersection (that I came to, at least) that will prevent you from becoming lost. Paradise Valley Conservation Area is also open to horseback riding, so you may encounter horses on certain trails.We didn’t see any horses while we were there, but we did see many people, bike riders, and dogs. This is in Snohomish County, which means leash and scoop laws are in effect. Your dog must be on a leash at all times, and you must clean up after them.
You should expect to cross paths with a lot of people if you go on a nice weekend, as well as a lot of dogs, and people breaking the leash laws. If you have a reactive dog, you may be able to maneuver these trails by staying alert. Since the trails are a maze, the people are spread out on different routes, instead of all trekking up the same trail in a line, like Big Four Ice Caves. For Bentley, this made it a lot easier to handle the number of dogs we met.
In the winter, the forests in the Pacific Northwest are still green, but it’s from all the moss and ferns that thrive in the cold wet weather. The moss grows on everything: trees living and dead, rocks, trails, the ground… even on your car if you leave it parked long enough. Some people hate it, but I love moss.
There are also mushrooms everywhere. Most of what I saw is fairly common and grows everywhere, but some of the fungi wasn’t what you’d usually find in your yard. Everything I found appears to like to grow out of dead and decomposing wood.
This one looks like it’s coming out of the ground, but if you look at the lower right-hand corner, you’ll see decomposing wood.
While we were hiking, I heard tree branches cracking overhead. I looked up in time to see a Bald Eagle fly from one tree to another. I don’t think I would have spotted it otherwise. Can you see the eagle in the middle tree?
How about now? Even knowing where it was, I had a hard time spotting it if I looked away for a moment. This is the first time I’d seen Bald Eagles under the tree canopy, and I was really surprised at how well they blend in.
I stood and watched the eagle for a while, then decided to sit down and get comfortable. I wanted to stay a while and see what it did next. I sat on the side of the trail, getting poked by some plants in the process. I moved to the side and got poked some more. I moved forward and continued to be poked, so I reached back to investigate… and discovered that I wasn’t getting poked, I was getting stung. I sat in a patch of stinging nettle that was just starting to come up. So I had stinging nettles all over my rear end and my hand for the rest of the day. (You knew something dumb was going to happen, right?)
Quincy and Bentley had no idea why we sat around and looked up at the trees for so long though. They would have been far more interested in ducks.
For a short hike close to town, it’s a great place with more wildlife than you’d expect. We’ll definitely be back!