PIONEER PARK TRAIL
HIKE DESCRIPTION: The tulips are in full bloom in the Skagit Valley, which means crowds are flocking to the Mount Vernon and La Conner areas. On a recent trip, my wife and I found a brief respite from the crowds on a fun little trail in Pioneer Park on the southwest outskirts of La Conner.
The trail is only 1 mile, but it has plenty to offer. Park near the amphitheater and start by hiking over the town’s famous Rainbow Bridge to Fidalgo Island, being careful to stay on the sidewalk to avoid Pioneer Parkway traffic. Pose for a few selfies with La Conner and the Swinomish Channel as your backdrop, then return to the park and pick up the trail on the north side of the parkway.
This is where you’ll find the meat of the trail. Still short, but you climb near the high point of the park and get the opportunity to take in the views from two lookouts. But the views aren’t quite as impressive as those from the bridge.
When the trail deposits you on Sherman Street, make the short walk on the road’s shoulder toward the water. Pick up the trail again before the boat ramp and follow it back, under the orange bridge, to the amphitheater.
Then head back out to take more pictures of tulips.
DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 5, take Exit 221. Travel west on state Route 534, taking the second exit in the traffic circle and then continuing west on Fir Island Road. Follow the signs to La Conner, turning onto Best Road, then left on Chilberg Road. Follow it into town and through the traffic circle as it changes to Morris Street. Then turn left on Maple Avenue. Continue on Maple Avenue to Pioneer Park. Turn left before the bridge to enter the park and find the amphitheater and picnic shelter parking area on your right.
DIFFICULTY: 2 (1 = easiest, 5 = most difficult).
MILES ROUND TRIP: 1 (but easily extended).
ELEVATION GAIN: 300 feet.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year-round.
MAP: Posted at trailhead.
ALSO: This route can be extended by strolling in to La Conner. The scenic waterfront town is packed with places for tourists to shop and dine. The Calico Cupboard bakery, 720 S. 1st St., is a favorite for locals and tourists. The trail is short and most of the elevation gain is gradual with steps in some locations. The city is working to raise funds for a waterfront park. The trail, built by volunteers, is well marked with signs showing the entire trail system. A large stone marker in the park pays tribute to Louisa A. Conner, for whom the town was named. The Skagit Tulip Festival runs through April 30.
Craig Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org