- Rating: Easy
- Activity: Hike
- Distance: 4 miles
- Time: 1 hour
One of the most easily accessible trails in Forest Park, this route is so darned pretty it’s best walked both ways. Balch Creek is a rare year-round watershed that transitions from a trickle in late summer to a raging torrent in spring. It’s also home to fantastic old-growth Doug fir, Western red cedar groves, maidenhair ferns and native cutthroat trout (best viewed from the footbridge a few hundred meters past the Stone House). As tempting as the water may look on a hot day, restrain yourself and your pooch from wading, as this waterway is under restoration.
ROUTE: Join the Wildwood Trail at Mile 5 at the eastern end of the Audubon Society parking lot. This is also a nice sunny spot with restrooms, picnic tables and a jungle gym. Follow Wildwood as it descends to Balch Creek, then follow the creek (staying right on Lower Macleay Trail at the intersection) until it ends at the parking lot under the NW 31st Ave Bridge (restrooms here if needed). Turn around and head back the way you came.
DIRECTIONS: Park at Audubon Society lot, 5151 NW Cornell Rd.