Image: Craig Romano
Don't worry, there are only half as many clouds as it seems.

Trail Name: Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas' Eddy

Rating: easy

Distance: 3 miles round trip

The 340-acre Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas' Eddy is one of the best places in Snohomish County for bird-watching, harboring wintering trumpeter and but scores of other species. It's one of the prettiest spots along the Snohomish River, but it nearly became a large housing development.  The Snohomish Sportsmen Association led by Bob Heirman rallied to preserve this spot and established a Snohomish County park.

From the trailhead, follow an old road that now serves as the preserve’s central trail down a short but steep bluff to wetlands abutting the Snohomish River. Here two side trails take off in opposite directions, each to cloud-reflecting oxbow ponds teeming with wildlife.

Check out both Robins Pond and Shadow Lake. During the winter months these pools burst with ducks, grebes, and swans. After checking out the ponds, continue on the main trail across marshy meadows to a dike. Follow the Snohomish River downstream and take in good views of Lord Hill across the river.    

At about 0.75 miles from the trailhead, you'll come to a Y-intersection. The trail to the right crosses a damp cottonwood flat before reaching an old gravel mining area along the river. It’s a great spot for fishing and bird-watching. The trail to the left continues downriver for another quarter mile until it stops at a tangle of blackberries. For a new way home, follow a parallel trail through meadows that were once used as pasture.

Watch For: Trumpeter and tundra swans on the oxbow ponds.
 
Getting there: From Seattle, follow SR 522 to SR 9. Continue north to junction with SR 96 (Lowell-Larimer Road), just south of Snohomish. Turn right onto Broadway Avenue and after 0.8 mile bear left onto Connelly Road. Continue for another 0.8 mile to Bob Heirman Preserve

Note: Dogs prohibited.

Craig Romano is the author of eight hiking books, including Winter Hikes of Western Washington.