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Flaming Geyser State Park

Puget Sound and Islands

Location

Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area
View map below

Length

4.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 450 ft.
Highest Point: 425 ft.

Rating

2.70 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

The striking name is a holdover from a previous era (1911) when prospectors seeking coal seams drilled into a pocket of natural gas and water. The result was worthy of the name. But the "geyser" part did not last, and the flame, at first several feet high, soon dwindled to a few inches. Today, even that is gone. But visitors can view a small, still active, bubbling geyser, enjoy views of the Green River, enjoy a strikingly beautiful forest and, in spring, a luxuriant growth of wildflowers.

The hike suggested here visits the site of the flaming geyser and the bubbling geyser, and includes the River Trail and Ridge Trail, all encompassed in the park. It follows roughly a figure eight path that can be traversed in any order. If you are a weekend visitor, you may need to park where space is available and modify your route accordingly.

If possible, park at the eastern end of the park road, near the small turn-around loop. Walk past the steelhead rearing ponds (in the spring, a few small fish may be visible) and continued on to the site of the eponymous flaming geyser. While the gas flow rate now seems too low to sustain a flame, you may note the faint odor of sulfur fumes in the air - an indication the underground source is not completely dead.

Cross the bridge over Christy Creek and turn right up the side trail signed Bubbling Geyser. It's about an 0.15 mile hike, with some steep up and down, partly on rustic stairs, with a net gain of about 150 feet. In spring, an impressive variety of wildflowers grow along this route. Please stay on the main trail, and avoid social trails that contribute to erosion.

The official trail ends at a small viewing platform next to Christy Creek. The "bubbling geyser" is a small pool along the far side of the creek, not much larger than your bathroom sink. Like the flaming geyser, it resulted from prospecting holes drilled down into gaseous coal deposits. If you watch closely, you are likely to note a few bubbles bursting at the surface of the water every few seconds. Note too the greyish deposits of calcium carbonate that line the stream here.

To continue on to the River Trail portion of your hike, return to the main trail near the bridge and, at the unsigned trail fork, take the right branch (It's the official River Trail. The left branch leads about 200 yards to the bank of the Green River at a spot where rafters and tubers sometimes launch for a ride downstream.)

The River Trail continues upstream about a half mile, with occasional side trails that lead to views of the river. (You will note a short section on the right side of the trail where interesting layers of sedimentary rock are exposed.) It is not unusual to encounter occasional short muddy sections along the trail, particularly in the spring, but these generally present only minor problems. In season, look for wildflowers, and be alert for an occasional stinging nettle overhanging the trail. The official trail ends at the river bank, although a rough fisherman's route may continue on a short way upstream. There's a good view of the river here, and of the steep, cliffy north bank.

To continue on to the Ridge Trail, return to the parking area and head west about 0.1 mile along the creek. A number of signs here comment on the fall salmon and spring steelhead runs in the Green River and its tributaries. Across the road from the playground, and just left of a large bulletin board, note a very rustic sign proclaiming "Trail." This is the current east end of the Ridge Trail that formerly connected with the Bubbling Geyser Trail until that route was blocked a few years ago by a landslide.

The trail begins next to a wetland where you may see geese, ducks, redwing blackbirds and seasonally, some skunk cabbage. The route then heads steeply uphill, climbing about 200 feet before leveling off and heading west. In spring, look for the buds and blooms of ball-head waterleaf and, farther along, Scouler's corydalis.

At an unsigned trail fork, head right and descend to a small parking area next to the road at the west end of the picnic area. If you prefer, you can check the map and explore the left trail branch that continues on and joins the equestrian tails at the west end of the park. Then hike back through the picnic area along the river to reach your car.

Extending your hike

The park map reveals an additional trail that approaches the Green River from the north side. If you want to check it out, leave the park the way you came, turn right on SE Green Valley Road then, in about a half-mile, turn right onto SE 354th Street. This gravel street descends steeply, passes a home, and ends at a small parking area. (A Discover Pass is required here too.)

A wide trail begins past a closed gate, and leads across an open grassy area near a picturesque old barn. It drops a few feet and continues on across a wetland area where you may see some waterfowl. In the spring, look for blue penstemons blooming farther along. Stay on the main trail as it eventually narrows and heads downhill. About 0.7 mile from the trailhead it reaches the Green River at a point where the stream has divided to flow around an island.

The northern branch in front of you may appear to be only creek-sized. On the other side, the trail does continue onto the island but there is no bridge. Wading the stream is not recommended and should be attempted, if at all, only when the water level is very low, the current very slow, and when you can use poles for balance. If there is any doubt, please turn around here.

NOTE: If you hiked the park trails a few years ago, or are relying on an older edition of a hiking guide, you need to be aware of some changes and additions to the trail system. You can also download a map showing the current park trails.

 

Flaming Geyser State Park

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.2771, -122.0313 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area

Washington State Parks

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Guidebooks & Maps

Mentioned in the first edition (2007) of Day Hiking Snoqualmie Region (Dan A. Nelson - Mountaineers Books) but there have been changes and additions to the trail system since that time.

Getting There

From either I-5 or Highway 167, take the exit to Highway 18 (Auburn) and head east. In about 3.5 miles from Highway 167, turn into to exit marked for SE Auburn - Black Diamond Road. While you still are on the exit ramp, turn right again onto SE Green Valley Road. You will see signs for the park as you follow the meanders of SE Green Valley Road.

In about 8 miles, turn right onto SE Flaming Geyser Road that will take you into the park. A Discover Pass is required, and may be purchased at the (usually self-service) entry station. The park is open from 8 a.m. until dusk. The official hour of dusk is posted each day on the entry station. (The implication seems to be that you should not overstay)

The park has restrooms, and about 200 picnic tables and parking spots. But it gets heavy use on summer weekends and parking sometimes can be a problem.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Flaming Geyser State Park

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