Then & Now
Old Mine Trail, Arlington/Darrington
1st Trip- April 2016 (Photos)
2nd Trip – April 2017 (Photos & Review)
Our 2017 trip focused very much on our second try at the Old Mine Trail. There were a couple of reasons for that. To begin with, it wasn’t just our first trail of 2017, it was our first trail after our serious car accident five months before. We had something to prove, that despite the bumps and bruises, and the injuries to my knees and foot, that we could still do it.
Then there was also the photos. The phone camera shots from 2016’s trip were not going to cut it. With a new camera in tow, the hike was all about catching the beautiful scenery, views of Whitehorse, and that infamous mine. Hence the lack of kids in the photos. Sadly, hiking had become more of a work thing than a fun thing at that point in time.
There are a lot of things I love about Darrington – the local businesses and lack of national chains, the amazing trails and adventures to be had, and all the beautiful places and things to take pictures of. What I love most, however, is getting to see the mountains coming into view along the drive up to Darrington and along many of its trails. It’s like the first time every time and never ceases to take my breath away.
Old Mine Trail is no exception. You won’t find it on all the hiking apps and sites, most definitely a road less traveled. What that means is, a for the most part easy trail, without the crowds of cars and peoples, and will just as big of a reward at the end – an up close and personal view of Darrington’s biggest attraction, Whitehorse Mountain, and a bit of history thanks to an old mine entrance.
When Live the SnoCo Life got its start a year ago, Darrington and Old Mine Trail was our very first adventure, and neither disappointed. All of the above made it a perfect choice for just starting out. Fast forward a year later, and six months after a car accident that took us out of the hiking game for a bit, it was once again the perfect choice and an opportunity for my kids and I to come full circle. We were back where it all started I probably don’t need to say it, but again, this trail did not disappoint.
Just like the trail apps and sites, you won’t find the road to this trail on Google, that is unless you know what you are looking for. Our first time around, Darrington’s website had some sketchy directions that I’m guessing only locals would understand. We got pointed in the right direction by Tony at Mountain Loop Books and Coffee, and thanks to him I am now giving you much easier directions. While the road is correctly called Mine Rd, the maps have it as 387th Ave NE Arlington (I consider it and many other trails in the area, Darrington).
Heading toward Darrington it will be a right hand turn from the highway, at the Shell station so you can’t miss it. The road will turn to dirt, take you past a few homes, but keep going. The trail head will be at the end of the road where you are met with a gate to the right and a boulder blocked bridge to the left.
Once parked and geared up, you will head off to the left, across the bridge, across a pretty cool creek, and onward down the trail. Or should I say up? That’s right, despite the fact that I would rate this 5 mile round trip (other sources have it as 2 miles both ways, it feels and clocked out for us at 2.5) as very easy, you are met pretty quickly with a moderately aggressive uphill climb for about 1/2 a mile. That being said, it was our first time hiking in forever the first time around and our first time hiking after our accident the second time around, and both times we knocked the hill out without too much huffing, puffing, or stopping.
With the hill behind you, its a fairly flat and easy for the next mile. There’s not much to see beyond the forest for awhile, but you will be treated to a beautiful little swamp patch, followed shortly thereafter by a waterfall, off to your right as you reach the halfway point. You will also come across the start of the Neiderprum Trail, a steep and not so easy trail that is meant to take you to the ever elusive mining cabin of Chas Neiderprum (I say that because I don’t think I’ve seen a single note or review that says someone has actually found it). For those equipped and skilled enough, that trail will also take you mountain climbing on Whitehorse if you push on far enough.
Now if you or your kids are starting to feel a bit bored or disinterested at this part of the trail, just hold on a bit longer because its about to get amazing. As you make your way further you will slowly start to get glimpses of Whitehorse Mountain through the trees, you will also realize that you are a lot higher up and closer to it than you had realized you would be. You will hit another hill at about 2 miles, a bit more mild, but you won’t even notice because you will be greeted with even better views of the mountain and its snow and waterfalls.
After this final climb and a hop, skip, and a jump over a small waterfall crossing the trail (depending on the time of year), you will reach your final destination unless you are brave and push on beyond the trees which you will find somewhat block, but don’t ruin, your mountain views. Off to your right you will find the entrance to a historic mine. I would strongly advise against going beyond the entrance as that should be seen as dangerous.
That being said, a small group came up behind us and went right on in, with gear for walking through water as the mine floor is covered in it. It’s a cool thing to take pictures in front of though and maybe a bit spooky. Had to use a flash to get pictures of more than just a black hole, and swear I heard what sounded like something walking on the water inside. I decided to stop taking pictures after that.
To your left, and a small climb down, you will find a roaring creek fed by the waterfalls above. You will also get some awesome views of Whitehorse, so don’t skip out on this part. It’s a fun spot to let the kids run around and play with the (cold) water a bit, stop and eat before heading back, and get some photo’s of course.
It is also the point where you could decide to push on further a short distance through the trees and over some rocks/logs to each Snow Gulch get a closer view of the mountain and its waterfalls. The first time around, we didn’t know this was possible, and the second time around, the group that came up behind us got our adventure dog acting up, so we missed out yet again. So if you happen to push on and get photo’s, please share, so I know if it worth another go, perhaps sans dog.
Overall this is a pretty easy, but still a bit challenging trail, with more than one reward waiting at its end. I would highly recommend it to those that are looking for something a bit more unique and lightly used, as well as those who aren’t experienced hikers. It’s super kid and dog friendly. It’s a hike you won’t regret so get out and explore it.
3rd Trip – May 2018 (Photos & Fun)
After changes to our format (you may have notice, we are a magazine now!) and a few steps back in our workload, I’m happy to say that our 2018 Darrington trip was all about fun. This time around, we even brought along a friend, Paula Pugh of Vivid Experience Candles in Marysville (Pg 26). She has braved trails, dirt roads, and other adventures with us, and was the perfect person to share the day and our first hike of the year with, the Old Mine Trail.
I knew Paula was just the person to keep us going after our somewhat disastrous 2017 hiking season. She got us through the much longer Monte Cristo Trail after all, and she was equally in need of getting back up and out into the world again. We had a blast showing her all of the little things about the trail that we have come to know so well, including the mine.
Sad to say, once again we failed to detour off into Snow Gulch for the waterfalls. My resolve to prepare for hiking this year was easier said than done, and I didn’t want to push my luck. It will just have to remain a mystery for another day or year. I must say though, despite worries about being unprepared, the hike seemed easier the third time around and I didn’t even wake up sore after (shocking, I know).
Once we conquered the Old Mine Trail once again, we made our way into town. If you’ve been reading about all of our trips, then you probably have a good idea of where we headed next. The photo probably gives it away as well.
After working up an appetite we hit up Burger Barn for burgers and shakes. I of course went with the massive Golly Whopper, and for the shake, this time I tried the Mocha Shake (so chocolatey and good). There have been a few changes in the faces over the years, but the food is as good as ever and still the best place to eat, hands down.
Once we were done, we headed over to Mountain Loop Books & Coffee to say hi to owner Tony and pick up coffee and Italian Sodas and coffee for the ride home. As always, he was there with a smile and a joke. I stopped by three different times that week after a long time away thanks to being so busy, I think he was impressed. I was!
As always, it was an amazing day, and we can’t wait to do it again next year.