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Easy Walk - Centennial Trail - Nakashima Barn Trailhead

A new section of the Centennial Trail has opened at the Northern most end. Let's go check it out.

Plan on walking about 6-8 miles RT, although you are free to turn around at any point.

Dogs in attendance must be leashed and have their owner present.

As always this time of year, check the site before leaving for any changes, cancellations or postponements due to weather, road conditions or illness.

Hike of the Week for Friday, November 9, 2012 Nakashima Barn

Northern portal to expanded Centennial Trail

Article and photo by Craig Romano

Nakashima Barn
The 29.5 mile Centennial Trail ends (or
begins) at the Nakashima Heritage Barn.

Quick Facts

Location: SR 9 just south of Skagit County line

Land Agency: Snohomish and Skagit County Parks

Roundtrip: 8.0 miles

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Access: From Arlington (junction of SR 530-SR 9), follow SR 9 north for 7.6 miles turning left into park. Proceed .1 mile to parking area.

Notes: Dogs must be on leash.

Contact: Snohomish County Parks;

Hikers, runners, and bicyclists have much to celebrate with the Grand Opening of the Nakashima Barn County Park this past week. The park is the new northern terminus of the extremely popular Snohomish Centennial Trail. Here at the restored heritage barn, you can set out on four miles of newly paved trail all the way to Bryant. Heck, you can set out from the barn for 29.5 miles all the way to the city of Snohomish. But that’s probably better done by bike than by hike.

And while the rail line has been abandoned, the bed that once housed it has since been converted into a 56 mile non-motorized multi-use trail. Administered by Washington State Parks, the Willapa Hills Trails makes for some great wanderings into the past—and into a part of the state rarely visited by hikers. Along this trail you can pass by communities fading into history. Trek across trestles. Saunter past wetlands teeming with song birds. Amble alongside lazy rivers draining saturated hillsides. Share the sparsely populated surroundings with deer, coyotes, bear, and elk.

While the main draw of the park will definitely be the trail, be sure to check out the restored barn. The barn’s farm has a long, fascinating, and somber history. Farming operations began on this rolling property just south of Lake McMurray shortly after the turn of the 20th century by Daniel Waldo Bass and his wife Sophie. Sophie’s grandfather was A. A. Denny, the “Father of Seattle,” who landed at Alki Point in November 13, 1851. In 1937 Bass sold the farm to Japanese-American Takeo Nakashima. Nakashima with the enlistment of his family continued a dairy operation on the property.

However, after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Nakashima family was sent in 1942 to internment camps in Idaho and California and was forced to sell their farm. Over the years the farm changed hands many times and dairying operations eventually ceased. In 1997 the Trust for Public Land purchased 89 acres of the farm including the only remaining structure, the barn, and turned it over to the county to become a park. In 2007 the barn was listed on Washington’s heritage barn register, becoming the state’s first and only one so far belonging to an Asian-American farming family. It was restored this year and houses murals of historic photos.

While the farm once encompassed 1,200 acres, most of the surrounding land is still rural. The county park preserves mainly wetland meadows. Most of the land west of the park is thick timber belonging to the Pilchuck Tree Farm and is managed for sustainable forestry, recreation and wildlife management.

From the barn to Bryant, the Centennial Trail passes mainly through woodlands, presenting a much wilder side than its southern sections. Follow the trail from the barn passing the dedication monument and skirting a wetland pool. Then cross the creek named Tributary 80. Shortly afterward the trail bends south. Here an unpaved (and open for hiking) section of the Centennial Trail heads north into Skagit County. Trail advocates hope that someday soon this section too will be paved and extended all the way to the Cascade Trail.

Explore if you wish or keep following the Centennial Trail south through a thick forest of maple, alder, fir and the occasional Sitka spruce, coming to Pilchuck Creek at about 2.6 miles. This is a good spot to turn around. But, if you feel like continuing, cross the creek on a high bridge and continue another 1.4 miles to Bryant where you can stop at the country store for a snack, or keep going all the way to Arlington—and beyond!

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Nakashima Barn visit

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  • Alison

    It was great meeting everyone, and we had a wonderful time! Thanks!

    December 1, 2012

  • Collene

    We went exploring a little afterwards by going north on WA9 out of the parking lot. There is a small pullout with a big fancy Centennial Trail sign near Lake McMurray - so it looks like you could possibly walk the soft surface portion we saw going north from the barn TH. ALSO, if you go this way and take WA534 back to I-5, right at I-5 there is a very nice looking barn-esque farm stand, Skagit River Produce, that was advertising soup and sandwich for $7 (and Trip Adviser says they are quite tasty, but we didn't sample).

    December 1, 2012

  • Kathy L.

    Thanks to those who came out and braved the uncertain conditions with me today. Turned out not too bad and I really enjoyed the walk and my dogs really enjoyed the new treats.

    1 · December 1, 2012

  • Kathy L.

    It didn't rain and then it did and then it stopped and then at started again. The story of the weather but it was still a nice walk with good company. Too bad more of you didn't come. We pretty much had the trail to ourselves save for a couple of joggers and cyclists.

    December 1, 2012

  • Kathy L.

    Oops, 10 am not 10 pm. (unless it is full moon :))

    November 9, 2012

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