Oxbow Loop Trail

An easy hike—more like a stroll—was on tap for last Saturday morning. Blaise and Laine were at their wilderness class, which left the three younger gals and Brian for me to convince we should head to Oxbow Loop Trail. Baby and Maive were all in… they’re both happy to be outside and explore. Saige wanted to stay home. She’s not much into doing things unless there is a social aspect (she’s our overly social kiddo). I managed to get her to go with the agreement there would be donuts afterward. Then there’s Brian. Brian isn’t into hiking. At all. Luckily he’s easy and goes along with whatever, even if it’s not his thing.

It was 9:30am when we left. It’s about a 45 minute drive from home to the trailhead. I was worried about parking. Like I always do. The WTA description says there is room for 2-3 cars at the trailhead. And a larger parking area 0.2 miles down the road. Luckily, we scored a spot at the trailhead. And there is parking for more like five cars. Maybe six cars if the Jeep hadn’t parked sideways, and had backed in like everyone else. Whenever Brian is involved, things tend to go smoothly. Probably because I get anxious over everything and worry, for no reason. While he is more the go with the flow, things always work out no matter what type. We parked and set out on the trail.

From the trailhead, you can go right or straight… it’s a big loop so it doesn’t matter either way. We went right. What a lovely trail. I was impressed. It’s a fairly new gravel trail—completed in late 2019—and it feels newish. Which is a total juxtaposition to Oxbow Lake… it sure feels old. It’s overgrown along the shore, with several logs and debris floating in the water. Along with some super cute ducks. But the lake has an ancient feeling. Turns out, it is really old:

The story of the Oxbow Loop Trail began when the Vashon Glacier pushed its way past Mount Si some 19,000 years ago, forming a great ice dam and a large lake in what we now know as the Middle and South Fork Snoqualmie River Valleys. Melting glaciers sent cascades of frigid water into the lake, depositing copious quantities of stone-ground “glacial flour.” When the glaciers receded 17,000 years ago, the rivers started cutting through that sediment, which had consolidated into deep layers of clay. From this, the landscape was formed with its meandering watercourses, side channels, and ponds, including what we now call the Oxbow Loop.

A Great Year-Round Destination: Oxbow Loop Trail, Mountain to Sounds Greenway

We moseyed along the trail admiring the old lake down below. The gravel trail is above the lake until you loop around; at the other end of the lake there is a bridge that crosses over a marshy area. But before looping around to the bridge, the trail goes away from the lake a bit into the forest. There are several views of the mountains above from the other side of the loop. And there are several large trees and nurse logs, and we found several mushrooms along the way. And even a cute little guy!

Another fun part of the loop is all the seating options along the lake. There are different logs carved into benches and one stump carved into a chair. They are all located at nice viewpoints, with the lake below. The girls loved these and modeled every.single.one.

Not official seating but they found a log to relax on along the trail. Complete with silly faces.

Another hit with the girls was tossing rocks in the lake. They tried to do this from the trail above but it was too far for their throwing abilities. When we made it to the bridge they were all in with rock throwing. Even Brian got in on the action, tossing in larger rocks to amuse the girls with the big splashes. After tossing rocks, we continued on the trail. The lake was no longer visible but there was snow on the ground. Something new to us on the trail. Baby made some snowballs to toss at Brian. Saige was over hiking and was ready for a post-hike snack. Luckily we were close to the trailhead, completing the loop. My Apple Watch clocked the loop at 1.53 miles.

Maybe I’m partial to going right at the start because that’s all I know. But after completing the loop, I think going right to start was the way to go. I like how that way starts above the lake and then it slowly appears below. And then after viewing the lake in all its glory from above—with the cool seating options—the bridge happens. And then no lake views on the way back to the trailhead. I’m sure if we had started straight my opinion might be different.

Back at our car in the few spots by the trailhead, Saige and Baby snacked on apples. I took Maive out of the hiking backpack and she got her walk on with Brian. She found a stick and was pretty excited about the sucker. She had a blast! Then again, she has a blast at Costco. Toddler life is good.

After snacking and Maive getting her walk on, we loaded up and headed back home. It was lunchtime. Saige announced she had a great time and was glad she went. And she forgot about the donuts. I still owe her.


My favorite part of the hike was Brian. For someone who isn’t a big fan of hiking, he decided he needed a walking stick. Not just a stick he found and used as-is, but a stick he found and used his knife to smooth and shave off the knots. He worked hard on the sucker. Still smoothing it out with his knife as he left it at the trailhead for someone else to use. It was also entertaining to see him so amused with all the mushrooms we found. He suggested we start foraging. Hahahaha. Foraging is great… just not something I ever thought I’d hear Brian suggest.

I’d like to make family weekend hikes a thing. But I’m also realistic and know how life happens with five kiddos, and it’ll be more like an occasional thing. I’ll take what I can get.

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