Update-This popular post was written long before the Covid 19 outbreak. I have no idea if this area is open now. I would encourage you to wait on this fun hike, but if you can’t, please check for closures before you go and practice social distancing. Thanks!
Writer Tiffany has found a magical hike for the whole family right in Maple Valley. We’ve settled into a bit of a rainy, windy pattern, but I couldn’t wait to share it. Obviously, you don’t want to do this hike in the wind, so save it for the next bluebird day! :)
** Keep in mind that this is a multi-use trail. We heard from one reader who was concerned about hikers with young ones not being able to get out of the way of bikes, so keep that in mind if you decide to try this one.
The Gnomes Trail in Maple Valley
This trail is a fun loop within a network of trails called Henry Ridge in Maple Valley. This whole area is so pretty it feels like a fairy tale, which is probably why many of the trails sport names like Once Upon a Time, Lil’ Red and The Lorax. Huge trees, funky bridges, hanging moss and ferns as tall as a tween are some of the highlights.
The Gnomes trail offers even more fun, with gnomes of all shapes and sizes along the trail, sitting in hollow trees, atop stumps and hiding among the mushrooms. There are also usually lots of painted rocks as well.
The trek is about three miles round trip. Please keep in mind that this is definitely more of a hike than a walk, with narrow trails, loose rocks and some elevation gain. It is easy to get turned around, I found the Henry Ridge map on the Trailforks app to be very helpful.
These trails are dog-friendly but there are no trash cans or waste bag stations. Also, no bathrooms, so be sure to make a pit stop before heading out!
From Hwy 169 turn on Maple Ridge Dr and drive up hill . When you see the water tower, turn right onto SE 281st Way where you can park on the street.
Head straight down a gravel road past the map kiosk until you see a trail called Stinger on your right.
Stay on Stinger until the trail forks. Here you need to go right and you will soon come to a gravel road. Cross the road and see the Once Upon a Time trail entrance on the other side. This trail is absolutely gorgeous. Though you are very close to a neighborhood, you feel miles away. The kids will love the hanging moss, many different colors of shelf fungus and nurse logs.
Take Once Upon a Time until you come to a “T” here you will see the Derailer trail sign on the right.
Turn right on Derailer. This trail has all of the beauty above plus cool bridges.
Keep going on Derailer you’ll cross a bridge and then you will come to a fork in which you can go one of three directions. Stay right to continue. You will cross another really cool bridge that is constructed over a fallen tree, after crossing, continue straight uphill. You are almost to the Gnomes Trail now! You will see a big tree stump with a gnome on top before you see the sign. This trail winds and doubles back then ends up back at a different point on Derailer. Keep your eyes open, there are gnomes everywhere! Big ones, small ones, even gnome- painted rocks if you are lucky!
Once you exit the Gnomes trail, you will be back on Derailer. Go left and walk past the first Gnomes trail entrance then continue back the way you came in.
One more caution: it is pretty easy to get disoriented on these trails. Be sure to have plenty of daylight, a charged phone, the TrailForks app and your patience! Before I discovered the TrailForks app, I got turned around and was able to use google maps to get back on track!
Send us your pictures if you go!