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Hike the Whitehorse Trail

This looks like an interesting walk - see the article below and the recent trip report:

Whitehorse Trail - Arlington to Trafton Jan 01, 2012 by overcast last modified Jan 05,[masked]:48 PM

Type of Outing
Day hike
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Whitehorse Trail - Arlington to Trafton
Region: North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
Be Aware Of

Took this hike to start the New Year! It was a good way to begin.

This is a very level hike, with no noticeable elevation gain or loss. There were one or two mud-holes, but nothing difficult to navigate around. Very nice winter woods to walk through--nothing striking or spectacular, but lovely in its own way. In most places, the trail was wide enough to walk side by side. Where we had to go single file, the trail was edged by brambles, so I caught myself on thorns a couple of times when tempted to try to walk over the vines to avoid going single-file.

When we got to the end, we were distracted by admiring a couple of Great Danes being walked by a family and we missed the picnic table. We sat on the grass instead and drank coffee from thermoses (always such a pleasure midway through a chilly hike). On the way back, the low sun lit up the edges of mossy trees and the grass along the river. We made it back to the car before dark, which was our goal.

The only difficulty we had was that we found the gravel difficult to walk on--at least, at our usual pace, which is pretty quick (I joke that my hiking partner has bionic legs; she usually has to slow down for me). Not as bad as sand, but more challenging than dirt or a smaller gravel. With the sun behind me: this picture does not do credit to the sky, which was a steelier blue.

Hike of the Week for Friday, April 2, 2010 Trafton Farm

Hike along an old railroad through a former farm and town site

Article and photo by Craig Romano

Trestle at Trafton Farm
The Whitehorse Trail crosses the
North Fork Stillaguamish River at
Trafton Farm on an impressive trestle.

Quick Facts

Location: North Fork Stillaguamish River Valley near Arlington

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks; (425)[masked];

Roundtrip: 4.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Contact: Snohomish County Parks

Special Note: Dogs permitted on leash. All farm buildings are closed to public.

Access: From Exit 208 on I-5 head east on SR 530 for 4.0 miles to Arlington. Continue east on SR 530 for another 4.0 miles turning left (north) onto 115th Ave NE. In .5 mile, come to road’s end by a large farm. Park in small lot on left side of road just beyond barn.

This is a great hike into both the past and future. For the past—you’ll be hiking through a former dairy farm and along an abandoned rail line to a town that exists now only in memory. And the future—the farm will eventually become a Snohomish County Park and the rail line a 28 mile trail from Arlington to Darrington. While development of these facilities is slated for the future, the farm and trail are now in the public domain and open for exploration. Enjoy them before they do get their facelifts in which afterwards they are sure to become popular destinations.

Start by walking the farm road between the big red barn with its cow mural left and the private residence right—be sure to respect the residents’ privacy and enjoy the farm buildings just from the road. The old path drops down to a fertile floodplain, all once part of a dairy operation, then afterwards, a golf course. In 1998, Snohomish County bought this 112 acre gorgeous tract along the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River with Conservation Future Funds.

Access the old rail road bed here, which was once part of the Northern Pacific Railroad and now part of the Whitehorse Trail. Parts of this 28 mile trail are officially open, but the section here hasn’t yet been improved to trail standards. It’s easily walkable, albeit a little rocky. Head west across the former farm and in .75 mile, come to a gorgeous trestle spanning the river. This is a good short hike turn around spot, but feel free to continue another 1.5 miles along the trail. On this stretch primarily through the private Pilchuck Tree Farm, enjoy excellent views of the river. Enjoy too perhaps a glimpse of an eagle, coyote or a duck or two. Turn around near a small wetland about 2.25 miles from your start. The trail continues another mile towards the Centennial Trail, but it is not recommended until it is improved.

Return and look for hints of spring—blossoming skunk cabbage and new greenery on the towering cottonwoods. Listen to crooning tree frogs. And don’t forget to reflect that this old rail line once stopped at a town named Trafton, now a mere memory which will live on thanks to this preserved farm.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Trafton Farm, visit

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  • A former member
    A former member

    peaceful hike with cute dogs

    April 15, 2012

  • Kathy L.

    What a pleasant and enjoyable day. This is a relatively new trail and we were the only ones on it. Nice walk along the river and over a great bridge and then lunch at the barn before turning around and heading back. Thanks for coming out.

    April 14, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Turns out I can't go on this date so could you take my name off the waiting list? Thanks

    March 26, 2012

  • Kathy L.

    We will start at the Arlington end of this trail. There is parking at Haller Park and street parking around the entrance to the Centennial Trail where we will begin. After crossing the railroad trestle the White Horse trail splits off. Total round trip mileage should be 6-7 miles.
    Here is the link to a trip report starting from this end:

    March 19, 2012

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  • Kathy L.
    Event Host
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member

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