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Field Report: The Lime Kiln Trail

Simply put, a lime kiln is a furnace for smelting lime.

Probably the last place that you expect to find a giant furnace is in the middle of a rain forest. But, where the mining is... that’s where the miners go.

Lime is a versatile mineral. At the turn of the twentieth century, lime was mostly used in industrial applications.

The kiln is a mossy monolith.

The Lime Kiln Trail starts from a wooded trailhead and takes hikers across streams and along the edge of the Robe Canyon. The Stillaguamish River roars through the canyon, fed by high rainfalls. Mushrooms and moss sprout from mossy logs and the cliff sides leak springs that cover the muddy path.

The route follows an old railroad that carried smelted lime away from the kiln to the nearby port city of Everett, where it was further processed.

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The kiln is the end of the trail, and well worth seeing. But, if you’re interested in local history there are other rusty gems to be spotted en route. 

The trail is still scattered with old rusted mining and logging implements sitting next to the path and surrounding the abandoned kiln. As historical items, these objects are protected. It’s cool to spot the old saw blades, metal fasteners, and even bridge cables in this neck of the woods -- tangible reminders of the rugged workers who once mined the hills and canyons of the Stillaguamish River Valley.

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Here’s what else you need to know before you go.

-Be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

-The trail is narrow on the switchbacks. If you’re in descent, surrender the right of way to hikers coming uphill, as this is proper trail etiquette. 

-Stay on the path and watch your footholds near the river. There are some steep rocks and the canyon walls grow steeper as youou hike. At several points, there are waterfalls that flow over the path. Aluminum hiking poles are recommended. 

Managing Editor
Richard Porter
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