Hike an almost level forest loop trail along a creek in this Snohomish County park. It's a welcome break from the surrounding suburbia, and offers large trees and ferns, plus a few wildflowers and birds. Optionally, check out a more urbanized trail that continues on far to the south.
McCollum Park lies on the border between Everett and Mill Creek. (It's also referred to as McCollum Pioneer Park.)
At one time the land that now is the park was owned by the Merrill & Ring Lumber Company (aka "M and R") and, in a twist of folksy creativity, the neighborhood became known as "Emander." Later, a community group that championed creation of the park dubbed themselves "Pioneers of Emander."
Today, the park offers sports fields, a swimming pool, a BMX bike track, a one-mile loop track for walking or jogging, and a picnic shelter and tables, as well as some 1.5 miles of forest trails.
To begin your hike, head west just a few feet from the parking area to find the beginning of the Forest Loop Trail. Cross the creek on a wide footpath and head left before you reach the picnic shelter.
Continue south on the Forest Loop Trail as it parallels North Creek. The water level in the creek varies seasonally, and it may be quite low after a dry summer.
Some fairly large Douglas firs and redcedars occur along this part of the trail.
In about a quarter mile another trail arrives from your left. This trail begins near the Education Center and crosses North Creek on a small bridge. It's worth walking over to the bridge for the views of the creek, both upstream and downstream.
In another 0.1 mile the Forest Loop Trail forks. You can go either way. Some hikers prefer the forest view when hiking along the right fork. But it's up to you.
If you take the right fork, then in another quarter mile the trail begins to bend around to the left through an area that has smaller trees. Ultimately, it heads back north along a rustic wood fence.
You will note some side trails here. The park map shows just one branch trail, but there are more. You can explore them if you like. They are narrower than the main trail, and the forest scenery is much the same.
The main trail rejoins your incoming route at the trail fork, and from there you can return to the trailhead. Your total distance will be about 1.2 miles, or a bit more if you explore the side trails.
Along the way, be alert for bird calls. You are likely to hear woodpeckers and jays, and you may catch sight of them and of smaller birds. Squirrel sightings are common.
In season, you are likely to see a few wildflowers. Early in the spring look for trillium or vanilla leaf. Later, buttercups, miner's lettuce, avens and salal. In late summer you may see the bright orange blooms of impatiens, often the last wildflower of the summer.
Extending Your Hike: For a change of scene, you might check out the North Creek Trail that heads south from McCollum Park. It begins near the south side of the Park-and-Ride lot, and a sign just across the park road offers good detail about the ongoing route.