Bobby and I have both been antsy for a more difficult hike.  At 33 weeks pregnant I am limited as to what I can do safely and comfortably, but we decided to embark on a longer hike. We chose Denny Creek, a 4 mile hike, which is touted as one of the most family friendly hikes in WA. Arthur A. Denny was the leader of the Denny Party who were some of the original settlers in Seattle. Denny Creek was named for the family because they had mining claims in the area.

We packed lots of snacks, a lunch, and a full sized backpacking sleeping pad. We figured I could lay down for awhile on the trail if need be and the sleeping pad would keep me nice and comfy! We left just after 7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, arriving at the trailhead just after 8:00. The trailhead has two privies, informative/interpretive signage, a picnic table, 2 wilderness sign in stations, and garbage cans. The privy was out of toilet paper, so as always, it’s a good idea to keep a roll in the car for such occasions.

Trailhead

Trailhead

Filling out our Alpine Lakes Wilderness permit.

Filling out our Alpine Lakes Wilderness permit.

There were only a few other cars at the trailhead lot and the other hikers that were gearing up were obviously embarking on longer journeys than we were hoping to accomplish that day. This trailhead is the jumping off point for several longer treks that you can do. The hikers around us were equipped with ice axes, gaiters, and large packs. Bobby and I felt a little silly in our shorts/capris, hiking shoes, and one small pack. But we knew we weren’t planning on going as far and deep into the wilderness as those hikers were.

As you embark on the forested Denny Creek Trail you find yourself suddenly immersed in an old growth, jurassic-esque forest. Various coniferous trees provide a magnificent canopy under which you will walk along a 2-3 foot wide, somewhat rocky and rooty trail.  A thick understory of ferns, salmonberry, skunk cabbage, grouseberry, and numerous wildflower species surrounds you.  Watch out for the rather unpleasant devil’s club that is frequently found along the side of the trail!

grouseberry  Vaccinium scoparium

grouseberry
Vaccinium scoparium

yellow skunk cabbage Lysichiton americanus

yellow skunk cabbage
Lysichiton americanus

White Trillium Trillium avatum

White Trillium
Trillium avatum

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Western Trillium
Trillium ovatum

devil's club Oplopanax horridus

devil’s club
Oplopanax horridus

yellow monkey flower Mimulus guttatus

yellow monkey flower
Mimulus guttatus

salmonberry Rubus spectabilis

salmonberry
Rubus spectabilis

Drainage along the trail seems to be a constant issue that WTA has been working hard to improve with crews working at this trail in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Boardwalks, crib walls, culverts, drainage ditches, and rock walls be-speckle the trail. These structures are doing their utmost to keep the trail free of water and mud. Overall, the improvements are working and the trail was generally free of mud and/or water. A few soggy patches here and there are to be expected at this time of year seeing as there are still small patches of snow along the trail. The small snowy patches you will encounter are just before reaching the second Denny Creek crossing.

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crib walls

crib walls

After .5 mile you reach the first crossing of Denny Creek of the day. A large, tall, well-built bridge allows you safe passage over the waters below.

Bridge over the first crossing of Denny Creek

Bridge over the first crossing of Denny Creek

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A further .2 miles up the trail and you cross under the staggeringly tall viaduct that allows traffic along I-90 to pass. We’d never really realized just how high up that viaduct was until we were standing below it!

Cross under I-90 at .7 miles in

Cross under I-90 at .7 miles in

Walk another .5 mile at which point you will enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness!

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At 1.2 miles in you enter the Alpine Lakes Wildeness

Only .6 miles to go until you reach the next crossing of Denny Creek and the ever popular waterside rocks! The bridge that was once here was washed out in 2009 by avalanche debris making it’s way down the creek during the seasons melt out.

The water was fairly high, up to our knees, and while the current was strong it wasn’t too scary. We took off our shoes and socks and prepared to ford the river. Bobby went ahead of me, testing the waters and the crossing to make sure it wasn’t too difficult for me to pass. He came back over and got me after plotting out a passable route. He held one of my hands tightly and we each had a trekking pole in the other. We passed without incident and without much fear! Fording rivers at 8 months pregnant, no big deal! There are several possible routes to take across the waters and we watched, while waiting for our feet to dry off a bit, as several other hikers took more bold and direct routes across. Many, not bothering to remove their shoes/socks and relying on their waterproofness.

He just went for it! Getting his shoes and socks fairly wet in the process.

He just went for it! Getting his shoes and socks fairly wet in the process.

Some chose a route over a small log jam further down stream.

Some chose a route over a small log jam further down stream.

We've got to get across it!

At 1.8 miles in you reach the cold crossing of Denny Creek.

There are signs prior to the crossing warning of the dangers of the swift and ever-changing current as well as the frigid temperatures. Be sure to assess the current conditions you are faced with before deciding whether or not to cross. Water levels can rise quickly and this can be a dangerous crossing.

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The water was really cold and it was hard to believe that this runoff-fed stream was so popular with families for afternoon dips. The rocks above the crossing are slippery and in the hotter, summer months this place is swarming with kiddos in swimsuits slipping and sliding along the rocks. The water levels are less high then but the water is still really cold! While the slides are very fun for kids, keep a close eye because there are some deeper pools at the ends of the slides. When we were headed back down there were a few families already there, though nobody seemed to be braving the icy waters…

The way back down, there were many people picnicking by the slides. I waited while Bobby first brought our gear across and then came back for me!

The way back down, there were many people picnicking by the slides. I waited while Bobby first brought our gear across and then came back for me!

We continued along the trail, clearly marked by a trail sign nailed to a tree indicating the “main trail”. Our goal for the day was to reach Snowshoe Falls, but we weren’t sure how far I would be able to make it. The trail continues through the forest, with a few snowy spots and one large blowdown that has been cleared enough that it’s easily passable. You encounter a few switchbacks before you emerge into a clearing.

Large blowdown that was nicely cleared!

Large blowdown that was nicely cleared!

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This section of trail was the most scenic section we had been on all day, or for many months for the matter! We were walking through a clearing, with spectacular mountain views all around us as the sun shone down in all it’s glorious splendor!

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.7 miles after the Denny Creek slide area you reach Keekwulee Falls.

Keekwulee Falls

Keekwulee Falls

This is by far the most scenic waterfall along the trail. It was named in 1916 by a party of mountaineers, Keekwulee is a Chinook Jargon word meaning “to fall down”. The falls has two drops, totaling 125 feet. The taller of the two drops is 90 feet. It is fueled by runoff and has its peak flow season April to July. Due to hazardous conditions this trail isn’t always accessible during its peak season. Watch weather and snow reports to ensure you and your party will be safe along the trail.

There was a small outcropping of rocks just off the trail being shaded by some large cedar trees. I knew I had gone far enough in for the day. Bobby wanted to keep going and make it all the way to Snowshoe falls. So, Bobby got out the sleeping pad we had brought along, inflated it, and we were able to make a pretty comfy outdoor recliner in the rocks for me to sit and relax on while Bobby went ahead. He tied Latigo to a nearby tree, ensuring he wouldn’t be blocking the trail. I settled myself in with half an egg salad sandwich, a Hershey bar, and a fresh and still ice cold bottle of water. I had brought along my rite in the rain notebook and began journaling about the day.

Not a bad spot to take an extended break!

Not a bad spot to take an extended break!

The trail that Bobby continued to follow up towards Snowshoe Falls quickly became more snow covered, steeper, and rockier. After an additional .5 miles along the trail he came to Snowshoe falls. While Snowshoe falls is taller than Keekwulee Falls at 150 feet. It isn’t as popular or as hyped because of its location. It is difficult to get to and difficult to view. It is best viewed from May to July and is also fueled by runoff. 

a peak at the elusive Snowshoe Falls

a peak at the elusive Snowshoe Falls

The terrain on the last .8 miles of the trail gets a bit more steep and rough

The terrain on the last .8 miles of the trail gets a bit more steep and rough

Much of this section of the trail is still working on snow melt.

Much of this section of the trail is still working on snow melt.

As I sat waiting for Bobby a group of hikers passed and then a trio of Forest Rangers. They looked at me a bit oddly but greeted me warmly and thanked me for having Latigo on a leash. I’m sure I must have looked odd, a very pregnant woman sitting alone on a sleeping pad with only a dog for company at 2.5 miles into the wilderness. They didn’t question me further and went along their way. Bobby passed them as he descended and made his way back to me. They looked at him a bit oddly, as he only had a camera with him and no other gear. He explained to them that he had left all his gear with me down below. I’m sure that answered many of the questions they had.

I had about an hour of sitting and resting and was grateful for the time to recuperate before beginning our descent. As I sat in my cushy outdoor recliner I listened to the roar of Keekwulee Falls. The magnificent waterfall cascaded down the rocky backdrop and I found myself overcome with emotion. Knowing we will be bringing a child into a world with such immense beauty and so much for him to explore and discover made my heart sing with joy. 

Bobby returned safely, we ate the other halves of our egg salad sandwiches, and we shot some 33 week baby bump pics in front of the unbelievably beautiful Keekwulee Falls.

33 weeks!

33 weeks!

We made our way back down and out to the car much faster than we had ascended. Crossing Denny Creek was once again, thankfully, uneventful and successful. I really didn’t think I’d be able to hike 5 miles with 790 feet of elevation gain this far into my pregnancy but I did it and I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt after accomplishing it! The parking lot that had been virtually empty when we set off for the day was now overflowing with cars and more people were arriving and circling in search of spots! It made me grateful we had gotten such an early start!

A few tips I have for you pregnant ladies out there hoping to hike throughout pregnancy. First off, take lots of breaks. When a nice sittin’ log presents itself on the side of the trail, don’t pass it up, just sit for five minutes. At your halfway point, or whenever you feel you may need it, take a long extended break. Take the opportunity of quiet and stillness to listen and take in the amazing world around you. You will remember the day more if you take the time to do this. Don’t let yourself get hungry. Always stay ahead of the hunger by snacking every time you stop to rest. Drink ridiculous amounts of water. Seriously, even if you aren’t thirsty, just keep drinking. I have a tendency to not drink as much when descending, luckily Bobby makes an outstanding partner and will stop me and have me drink. Going down is so much easier that you may not feel that you need a break. You should still take breaks. Pee often, don’t let yourself get uncomfortable. We made a ridiculous number of bathroom stops. Pretty much whenever I saw a convenient and secluded place I’d stop, you don’t know when the next opportunity may present itself. Keep a ridiculously slow pace. I did my best and pretty much succeeded, at not letting myself get winded. Just happily let others pass you and thank your hiking companion/s for putting up with your slowness! Even once we were back at the car, and I knew I’d be sitting for an hour, I laid down in the back of the Explorer and allowed my muscles to relax. I drank lots of water and had a snack before we even started the car. I am so grateful that I am still able to do so much, so late in pregnancy! I think I am a bit of an oddity, but I have really felt as if I’ve had the most amount of energy and have felt the best during my third trimester! 

Denny Creek at EveryTrail

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About the author


I am the youngest of six daughters and spent my childhood vacations camping in the beautiful State Parks of MN. In 2009 I married my best friend, Bobby Marko. We have embarked on numerous adventures along with our Golden Retriever, Latigo, our son, Jack (born 7/26/2014) and our daughter, Rowan (born 10/25/2016). When not adventuring in the great outdoors I spend my time as a stay at home mom and volunteer. I am a Branch Lead for the Twin Cities Hike it Baby branch. My favorite pastimes include dog training, eating chocolate, reading mysteries and crappy romance novels, and creating paper crafts, my passion lies in writing.

7 comments

  1. Awesome job! That trail is pretty rocky, too, so I’m extra impressed by your pregnant hiking prowess…and you’re going to have the cutest, coolest bump photos for your baby book. 😉 You look wonderful and healthy! I hope I’ll be able to hike something like that in my third trimester, but my pelvis is starting to pop out of alignment and say no.

    Oh, and I usually walk right through streams since my trail runners are made of mesh and dry right away. Back when I wore boots, I would bring water shoes (crocs or something) if I knew there was a big stream since crossing barefoot isn’t recommended (it can be a little riskier, injury-wise).

  2. Maura Marko

    Oh bummer about your pelvis 🙁 My midwife did warn me that that could happen and to be extra cautious while hiking. We totally forgot our water appropriate foot ware! I blame pregnancy brain!

  3. Thank you Maura, for the wonderful pictures and detailed description of this hike. I have just joined my first hiking group….Zen hiking and photography and am excited to be doing this hike. It’s my first hike after a year of recovering from a meniscus tear in my knee and being 72 years old I was reassured that I could manage this hike. I would never have remembered to bring water shoes and a towel though so I appreciate that reminder, plus all the encouragement to take breaks, although I have been told that this group goes slowly so we can take pictures….which is just fine by me. Thanks again….keep up the writing.

  4. Maura Marko

    Karen, I’m so glad you are getting back out on the trail and that my post is helping you prepare! You’ll have to let us know how it went! Hopefully the group goes at a good pace for you. If I’m hiking in a group setting I always do my best to avoid “group mentality” and go at my own pace and complete the hike on my own schedule. Good luck to you!

  5. Laura

    Just found your site – love all of your photos! And your descriptions of the hikes are amazing… giving me lots of good ideas of hikes to go on. I did this hike last year but only to the waterfall.. your photos are making me want go again!

  6. Maura Marko

    Thanks Laura! We are always so happy to hear that our trip reports are useful to others! You should definitely return and continue up the trail, I, personally, think it is worth it!

  7. Annie

    Wow, really impressive trail report and great photos! I found your blog through WTA.org while reading about the Denny Creek Trail. Best wishes to you and your growing family.

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