An old trail made new! The land on this southwest side of the park was recently donated to the Skagit Land Trust and Mount Vernon Parks to prevent it from becoming a big housing development. Instead the land will be kept in posterity for all to enjoy. Hike this loop for some fine forest walking on the south slope of Little Mountain.
The Darvill trail had long been used by locals to access Little Mountain but with this recent acquisition WTA volunteers have been busy since then helping to improve it from a footpath to a sustainable trail. The trail starts out next to the gravel driveway and begins a gradual uphill through a swampy area with lots of skunk cabbage, beautiful when in bloom. Here you can see the hard work done by volunteers as you hike over the boardwalk and up some well-built stairs.
Climb uphill through mature second growth forest with featuring sword fern, salmonberry and Oregon grape as the understory. If you hike in spring, notice our native bleeding heart carpeting the forest floor with its delicate looking leaves and dainty mauve flowers. Don’t let the leaves fool you, this is a tough little plant! Unfortunately, there is a lot of cedar dieback here also. The speculation is that it is caused by a root rot fungus brought on by increased rain in winter and more drought in summer, stressing the tree.
The Darvill trail intersects the Up Quick and West Loop in half a mile. The intersections in this park are well signed. Take the Up Quick, you will return via the West Loop. The trail is steep but, well, quick. It's just 0.2 miles before you get to the Julieann and Bonnie and Clyde intersections. Here, take Bonnie and Clyde, you will loop back along the Julieann on your return.
Bonnie and Clyde is a multi-use trail so watch for bikes. The trail switchbacks gently uphill, then does a broad traverse underneath the ridge. Along this section look for the remains of a very old car, perhaps this gave this trail its name. In someone’s imagination, perhaps it looked like the getaway car!
Bonnie and Clyde ends with the intersection of Ginny’s trail and Sidewinder. If you want to get to the lookout points quick, take Ginny’s trail, but if you have your Fitbit tracking steps, take Sidewinder up. You will hit the road and the North Viewpoint, much photographed for its walkway out over the side of the ridge.
There are nice views of the east Skagit Valley, San Juan Islands and Mount Baker. Follow the road just a short distance until you reach the upper parking lot, lookout, picnic tables and outhouse. Here you can look out over the western Skagit Valley farmland and Salish Sea in the distance. There once was a fire lookout here, back in the 1930s, then it became an Aircraft Warning Service in WWII. In 1980 the lookout was destroyed, and the radio towers went in afterward.
Start back down by taking the Ridge trail; it starts by the fence and tower buildings — start by looking for a sign that says NO BIKES. This trail is steep on its way down and a bit hard to follow. Keep on what looks like the main trail, avoiding the little social trails that take off through the salal.
Even though it’s called the Ridge trail, there really aren’t any views. The Ridge trail ends at a big intersection with the park road, Bonnie and Clyde, Julieann and Up Quick. If you walk down the road and around the bend, there is a portable restroom and parking. The trail you want to take back is Julieann. This parallels the Bonnie and Clyde, just below it. This section will give you a nice up and down workout as it travels down ravines and up little ridges along the side of the hill. This is a narrow hiker-only trail and quite a nice walk in the woods. This trail intersects with the West Loop in just under a half mile from the road. Follow the West Loop for a half mile until it intersects with the Darvill and your path back to the start.
Extending your hike: There are 10 miles of trails in the park and all worthy of exploration. If you want to come a different way back, you could take the Mossy Rock to the Down South to the Southern Connector to the South Trailhead which is just east of the Darvill trailhead. This would involve a short road walk back to your car, however.