EVERETT, Wash. — You don't have to go a great distance to find a great trail. Just ask local hiking guide author Craig Romano:
"That's the great thing about so much of Western Washington; we're surrounded by nature and so much of it is literally in our back yard.”
He has been putting on the miles, seeking out nearby natural wonders, and putting them in his Urban Trails Guidebooks. The avid hiker has logged more than 20 thousand miles in Washington state: "I just love being outdoors in nature, in a natural environment I'm happy." Lately, he's been writing about epic hikes that are closer to urban areas.
Romano shared his top three trails in Everett, all of them are included in his guidebook Urban Trails: Everett: Western Snohomish County - Whidbey Island - Camano Island.
Number One is Spencer Island - a place you drive right past if you ever take I-5 through the city.
"We are at Spencer Island right here, and we are just a couple miles from Downtown Everett," explained Romano at the bridge that crosses Union Slough and leads to the island.
The hike winds around the Snohomish River estuary and offers views of Mount Baker and Mount Pilchuck on a clear day.
"If you are a birdwatcher, the whole Snohomish River delta is one of the best places on the North Sound for birdwatching,” he said.
Another of Romano's favorite hikes near Everett is Lord Hill Park: a network of forested trails between Monroe and Snohomish.
"Nearly 1500 acres, it's a very large park. Nearly 30 miles of trails. It's wonderful for mountain biking, trail running, horseback riding, it's a great park and it does not get that crowded either."
And closer to downtown Everett Romano recommends Jetty Island, a boat-in only beach hike. The Port of Everett runs a ferry that goes to the island daily.
“Jetty Island is an amazing place. It's a two-mile-long island, it's man-made. It was built about 100 years ago from dredging the river, and the dunes have accumulated, plants have grown, it's an amazing place. One of the best beaches in the North Sound."
Romano says Pacific Northwesterners are fortunate that they have plenty of hiking opportunities in their own backyards.
"You don't have to go to Rainier. You don't have to go to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon. You've got wildlife and natural beauty surrounding you. And in many respects, it's more important to connect people to and protect these areas. Because they're close to where all the people live."