Foothills Trail--Wilkeson

* Enumclaw North * Enumclaw South * Enumclaw Undeveloped Section *

* Buckley North * Buckley South * Cascade Junction Trail * C J Trail 2 * Cascade Junction Bridge *

* Carbonado * Wilkeson * South Prairie East * South Prairie West * Orting East * Orting West *

* Other Users * Volunteers * Foothills Trail Coalition * Foothills Trail Map * Flooded Foothills Trail *

* Introduction * Wheels in the Garden * Wheels Outside the Garden * Foothills TOT *


The Wilkeson section of the Foothills Trail is overlooked by nearly everyone but the locals. It forms a paved V about a mile long, disconnected from the rest of the trail. However, it is well worth the short detour because of its long downhill grade through beautiful forest and the unique town where it begins.

Parking is available at the vertex of the V on the main highway, just as you enter town.

This is not your urban or even suburban trail. It is definitely rural riding.

On the lower leg of the Y, the trail follow near the highway and crosses a clear reflecting creek on a restored Northern Pacific railroad trestle.

The bridge marks the end of the lower leg of the paved trail, although a rough single track winds down through the forest to the South Prairie section. The bridge by the park in South Prairie has a chain link barrier, so the connection is not possible. However, you could ride quite a ways down the unimproved trail on a mountain bike. We did pass horseback riders here.

The uphill leg is a smooth grade into the cedar and fir forest. It is a beautiful ride and not a difficult climb.

Wilkeson currently has the highest elevation of the trail, so even on a 55 degree March day, leftover snow can be present.

This leg of the V also terminates into a single track, suitable for mountain bikes. It goes up through the foothills to Carbonado, and will eventually connect to Mt Rainier National Park.

We get off the trikes for a break before turning around for the high speed downhill descent through the forest. Here you can picture what the Foothills Trail will look like when its more remote sections are completed.

It is easy to reach speeds over 30 mph without working on this half mile downgrade. Let your eyes wander back and forth on the foreground to simulate the dizzying effect of the ride.

Jordan loves the downhill speed as he comes racing up behind me.

Nearing the end of the hill, you again see the first sights of town. The blue onion dome of the pioneer Russian Orthodox church appears in the center.

Jordan applies the brakes on the final turn, coming back to the starting point of the trail.

Before leaving, take a look around this unique pioneer town. Wilkeson's inhabitants are a unique mix of descendents from its early days of coal mines, coke ovens, sandstone quarries, and timber. One of its biggest events is an annual handcar race, supplemented by riding mower races down the main highway through town.

Representatives of newer cultural elements include a coffee roaster and a hemp store.

This is definitely not your urban or even suburban trailride, but a venture into authentic rural small town life.

This delivery man has been serving Wilkeson's merchants for a long time.

Skeek's offers a unique blend of espresso, pizza, hot dogs, and yard sale.

A few doors away, the corporate headquarters of Buono Coffee Roasters is flanked by a historic restaurant and tavern that draw visitors from far afield.

It should be noted that Wilkeson has supported the Foothills Trail, bringing in right through town, so this is a great place to stop and spend some money to support the locals. In contrast, Carbonado, a few miles up the line, has been unwilling to let the trail through the city limits, forcing the Foothills Trail coalition to seek an alternative route around the town.

Wilkeson is small, so you won't get lost, especially with its descriptive street signs.

On your way out of town, stop at the historic Russian church. The congregation still uses this old building for special events, although they have moved their services to larger quarters.