Experience the Moss Madness on the Oxbow Loop Trail along the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River

One foot in front of the other

In her novel “The Signature of All Things”, journalist and author Elizabeth Gilbert describes Moss as “a thick, living pelt, turning every rock surface into a mythical sleeping animal”.

“It was not only green; It was awfully green. It was so vivid in its character that the color had almost spoken, as if – smashing through the world of sight – it wanted to escape into the world of sound,” Gilbert writes.

Gilbert’s words are relevant because peak moss season is upon us. The green carpet in our forests is often the backdrop for more dramatic scenery—a giant Douglas fir, a peekaboo view of alpine peaks—so this walk center makes moss the star of the show.

Relatively new Oxbow Loop Trail Middle Fork fits the bill perfectly on a humid spring day along the Snoqualmie River. A rainy morning can be a deterrent to being outside, but with moss on mind, you can frame bad weather differently: prime moss-growing conditions.

Just 3 years old, this gentle, almost perfectly flat 2.2-mile trail is a quieter alternative to more marquee destinations like the Middle Fork’s Mailbox Peak. A partnership between the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the trail is proof that ongoing investments in outdoor infrastructure pay off.

In truth, Moss Madness begins well before your trail, as the drive along Forest Road 5600, which traces the Middle Fork Snoqualmie after separating from Interstate 90 in Tanner, beyond North Bend, is a small Illuminates the world of green plants. Think of this lush tunnel as a prelude to the hunt ahead of the moss.

You’ll come to the trail’s additional parking right next to the intersection of Forest Road 5600 and Bessemer Road, with space for about 10 vehicles on your right before reaching the main trailhead, which has a privy and parking for about 30 more vehicles. From the main trailhead, venture 0.2 miles south until you reach the proper loop, stopping to enjoy sweeping views of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie below.

I started the clockwise loop, but you can walk in any direction. The trail weaves a narrow gap between the lake and the river, which is understandable, given A bull lake is actually the remains of a river bend, (Fun fact: The recreational Australian word “bilabong” is the continent’s name for an oxbow lake.)

This time of year, the moss frenzy begins as soon as you hit a trail of easy-going gravel, seemingly every tree, rock, and stump cared for by a patch of moss of some sort. The moss draped from the branches like a cozy knit sweater tied against the winter chill. Elsewhere, it weighs down evergreen branches similar to the effect of snow in the highlands of the valley.

While I’m not a moss connoisseur, the green didn’t pop as much as I’d hoped—certainly not so for Gilbert’s protagonist, Alma Whitaker, or as I’ve seen especially at the Longmire entrance to Mount Rainier National Park . winter days. But what Moss lacked in Neon Electric Glow, it made up for in soft textures. Petting moss dries like petting a shaggy dog ​​without the lack of a shaggy tongue.

If traveling clockwise from the head of the loop, you’ll reach a small speed up to a quarter mile river in the walk. The riverbank of the running middle fork offers a sweeping view to the more moss-covered forest across the river. Above, the mountains were mist like dry snow, offering glimpses of the icy peaks of the tower above the river valley.

About 0.15 miles behind the riverbed, the trail crosses a steel bridge that brings in a better view of Oxbow Lake. It’s a swampy place dotted with fallen trees and branches—an alpine jewel far away—but a half-dozen waterfowl seemed content to mingle in its muddy waters.

The bridge back to the starting point makes up the lion’s share of 1.8 miles on the loop proper, with you hugging the lake. Shortly after the bridge, a moss-covered fern alley closes to the left. You’ll pass some really impressive tree stumps as well as some rough wooden furniture – a bench, a chair – that provide vantage points over the lake.

Back at the trailhead, either head left for additional parking or take your 0.2-mile steps back to the main trailhead.

Curious about the world of Kai among us after my walk, I visited the Seattle Public Library to browse “From Moss to Forest to Garden: A Guide to the Hidden World of Mossby Swedish author Ulrika Nordström. If you want to identify some species of moss on this walk—there are about 20,000 around the world—you’ll need to bring a magnifying glass with x10-20 magnifying power and a spray bottle.

In its global survey of moss, both wild and domesticated, Nordstrom writes about two Pacific Northwest moss havens: the Portland Japanese Garden and the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. I suspect she’ll be happy to march along the Oxbow Loop Trail as well.

“In winter, moss is the only plant that can cover our bare, cold fields for so long during the winter months: magical, soothing greenery,” Nordstrom writes. “The beauty of moss can be enjoyed all year round.”

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