Due to a misstep on my part, we ended up at the Middle Fork trail head. No problem, it was already after 11am and we just wanted to get out. We first poked around the "picnic area" which had some large trees, and a good view of Mount Garfield. Then we hit the trail and started walking.
The trail was not surprisingly muddy. There were some bikers on it, and some other hikers too. There is little to no elevation gain early on and the trail wanders from near the river to away from it. Good views of Mount Garfield were once again had, which has now piqued my interest in climbing Infinite Bliss. (It looks pretty cool.) There were quite a few land slide/washouts on the trail, the largest of which had knocked down some sizable trees. The tread of the trail was not yet repaired in that section, and we had to rock hop through the water to cross. In an attempt to make another stepping stone, I picked up a stone to throw into the water and revealed a small salamander, the first I had seen in Washington State.
We continued to hike and started seeing other hikers turning around. We weren't sure why, but we keep going. Around this time me made the decision to head to the bridge at the six mile mark and return by hiking the road back on the other side of the river. It was around this time too, that the trail gained some elevation and went by the Cripple Creek Falls before dropping back to the river in a grove of large Western Red Cedars.
The hike out on the road was fairly boring. Not much to say about that. Nearing the parking area, it turns uphill a bit. Not wanting to deal with a final climb, I attempted to shortcut the road on a footpath through the woods. Unfortunately, it dead ends on a small peninsula and campsite. The creek bed separating the peninsula seemed dry and we made an interesting hike/scramble up the wash back to the road. Jennifer startled a garter snake in the creek bed as well. Once back on the road it was mostly a downhill hike back to the car.
This was a fun trip. Definitely kid/family friendly too. Not a whole lot of views from the valley floor, but a nice easy day trip. It was pretty nice seeing all the big trees tucked back in the valley as well.
Pics are here.