We started our day with the Echo Basin Loop. From the slightly dilapidated information board adjacent to the unmarked parking area, the trail climbs steeply for .7 miles following a narrow and eroded dirt road that was used by loggers in the 1980s. The trail/road climbs through a dense forest of alder and Douglas-Fir with huckleberry, ferns, and grasses making up most of the undergrowth. Views are extremely limited along this stretch and even nearby Echo Creek is difficult to see through the brush.
At the Echo Creek footbridge, is the beginning of a one mile loop up to Echo Basin. We crossed the bridge and hiked the loop counter-clockwise per the instructions in Sullivan’s guidebook. After crossing the footbridge, there are a series of steep switchbacks that were muddy and eroded during our visit. At the top of the switchbacks there is a small grove of Alaska yellow cedars which evidently are rare at this latitude. The yellow cedars make a good turnaround point if the trail beyond is boggy like it was during our visit.
If like us you decide to press on, be aware that the trail is very overgrown in the basin, the basin itself is very boggy, and the planks that have been put down to allow hikers to cross the muddiest portions of the hike are rotting and slippery. Echo Basin is very lovely but the path back to the footbridge is so overgrown that I can’t recommend this hike. Deadfall is a huge problem on the 2nd half of the 1-mile loop and we struggled to climb over the 10+ downed trees along the path. All in all it took us more than an hour to hike/bushwhack the 1-mile loop and our boots and pants were filthy when we arrived at the footbridge. The hike back to the car was uneventful although the steep muddy trail was slippery in spots. All in all I say skip this hike unless you enjoy bushwhacking.
Hackleman Old Growth Grove
The Hackleman Old Growth grove is lovely and definitely worth visiting when travelling on Route 20. There are two loop trails in the park – the 1-mile walking loop and the shorter hiking loop. Both trails are rated easy and are good for all ages. The walking loop is unpaved but according to signs in the park it is ADA accessible. The walking loop passes by towering Douglas-fir, Western Red Cedar, and Western Hemlocks some more than 500 years old. The short “hiking loop” off the main loop also passes by some very old trees and the gurgling Hackleman Creek. While the park is right off the highway we were impressed with the birdsong in the park and the lack of traffic noise.