Lime Kiln Trail hike in Granite Falls

The Lime Kiln Trail is a unique Washington treasure in the forest of the Cascade Mountain Foothills. A forest walk on an old railroad grade, this trail is mostly a mellow hike without a lot of climbing to an interesting historic structure. The Lime Kiln itself is a stone structure that was used for heating up limestone to very high temperatures until it became lime and was sent to Everett to be used in smelting operations.

The lime kiln next to the lime kiln trail. It's a stone structure with moss and ferns on it and an open hole where the fire was built. it is in a forest and has fall leaves on the forest floor
The Lime Kiln

The whole Lime Kiln Trail is 7 miles round trip with about 700 feet of elevation gain. The elevation gain is more on the way back than out. If you turnaround at the actual Lime Kiln itself (instead of the end of the trail), it’s about 5 miles with about 500 feet of elevation gain.

Parking Pass: None

Dog Friendly: yes, on leash

Cell phone coverage: None (you might have a tiny bit of service at the trailhead)

Restrooms: There are no toilets of any kind at the trailhead.

Accessibility and Mobility: Much of this trail is on a wide, flat railroad bed with a gravel or rock surface. There are a number of downed trees to step over, most are just a few inches high but a couple are big logs. The trail has some sections of mud and a few areas of rocks and roots. Though most of the trail is flat or a very mellow grade, there is a longer uphill and downhill portion (about a third of a mile each way) and there are a couple of very short steeper sections.

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Is the Lime Kin Trail right for me?

The Lime Kiln Trail is a lovely forest walk with an interesting past and a fascinating historic structure. Most of the trail is on a very mellow grade.

It’s a wonderful hike for anyone who wants a forest walk with some interesting things to look at along the way. Be aware that despite it’s mellow grade, this trail has quite a few logs down in various places that you have to step over.

When is the best time to hike the Lime Kiln Trail?

I think this is the perfect fall hike, when the river water is lower, exposing the beach and the big leaf maple leaves are gently floating down to the ground through the forest. There are no distant views, so if it’s cloudy or rainy you’re not missing out.

A branch in the forest covered in moss with orange and brown fall maple leaves on it in a forest on a cloudy day
Fall leaves mix with evergreens and moss in fall on the Lime Kiln Trail

Truthfully, this is an excellent year round hike that rarely sees snow. Spring is also a good time to catch all the new growth on the forest floor. Summer sees big crowds here, but it is lovely in the shade on a hot day.

Be ready for mud any time of year.

Where is the Lime Kiln Trail?

The Lime Kiln Trail is in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains on the homeland of the Stillaguamish and Snohomish People. Near the town of Granite Falls at the southern end of the Mountain Loop Highway, this trail takes you along a long decommissioned railroad grade through the forest to the Stillaguamish River.

The trail is on a combination of land currently owned by Snohomish County Parks as well as private land.

To get there, head to the town of Granite Falls. Entering town on State Route 92, turn right on Grant Avenue and then left on Pioneer Street. Pioneer becomes Menzel Lake Road. At a well signed Y in the road, turn left on Waite Mill Road and follow it a short distance to the parking lot.

On summer weekends the parking lot fills early and parking is not allowed along the road, so arrive early or late or come in the fall or early spring.

Trail Description

There are excellent signs noting what direction to go and distances at various points along the Lime Kiln trail, part of an Eagle Scout’s project. This is about the best signed trail I’ve seen ever!

Starting out from the parking lot, climbing gently for the first third of a mile. You will quickly pass onto private property, which is well signed. Make sure to stay on the trail. Then you’ll be gently descending for awhile. You’ll be in a second growth forest covered in ferns and moss clinging to the trees.

A forest with thick ferns around the forest floor and the lime kiln trail going through the forest

Passing onto Robe Canyon Historical Park again after about a mile from your car, you’re on the railroad grade of the Everett and Monte Cristo Railway, built in the 1890s and in use until the 1930s. The railroad brought timber as well as lime from this location to nearby markets.

Now you’ll be a bit closer to the Stillaguamish River, and you can see the river below you between the trees. About 2.5 miles from your car you’ll come to the actual Lime Kiln. There a few rocks and logs nearby for enjoying lunch on as well as some much bigger cedar trees.

The lime kiln next to the lime kiln trail. It's a stone structure with moss and ferns on it and an open hole where the fire was built. it is in a forest and has fall leaves on the forest floor

You can turn around at this point, or you can continue on the Lime Kiln trail for just under a mile for more views of the river and the forest. About half a mile beyond the Kiln there is lovely view of the Stillaguamish River.

A turquoise river going through an evergreen forest seen from above. There are a few fall leaves from the deciduous trees that have fallen on the ferns near the river.
My favorite view of the Stillaguamish River along the Lime Kiln Trail

Continuing on, you’ll come to a short loop that goes down towards the river where there used to be an old bridge, long since gone. In late summer and early fall there may be a beach exposed near the river. In winter and spring, the river is high and swift so make sure to stay back from it.

When you reach the end of the trail at about 3.5 miles from your car, turn around and head back the way you came.

Bakeries and Breweries near the Lime Kiln Trail

Try Hanky Pies in Granite Falls, featuring hand pies as well as other baked goods, coffee, breakfast and lunch.

For the nearest brewery, check out the wonderful Lake Stevens Brewing Company

Electric Vehicle Charging

The nearest fast charging is at Target in Lake Stevens (24 miles away). I can make it to the Lake 22 trailhead from my home in South Seattle by stopping both ways in Lake Stevens and my EV only has about a 90 mile range. I’m always excited when I find trailheads I can drive my shorter range EV to!

A stone structure with moss and ferns on it in a forest. Text reads: hiking the lime kiln trail near granite falls washington
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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!