(Spencer Island Butterfly) **This photo was accepted into the Washington State Photographer’s exhibition.**
Up until a few months ago I wasn’t even aware that Spencer Island existed. I must have driven by it hundreds of times while on I-5 or Hwy 2 and never knew that within the city of Everett existed a beautiful island inhabited by all kinds of birds and wildlife. Spencer Island is situated on the Snohomish River estuary. This is where the salt water from Port Gardner Bay and the freshwater from the Snohomish River meets. The first time I visited we took the trail that goes to the south of the island. I wasn’t too familiar yet with my whereabouts so I just chose this trail because I found the directions on a map. However, there are two ways to access Spencer Island. Both start primarily from the same area but this particular way (I’ll call it the south trail entrance) takes the long way around to the island. It was a nice walk and the Snohomish River is rushing past alot of the way. There were lots of waterfowl and we were able to see an Osprey flying to its nest. It’s about a 3 mile loop.
About half way to the entrance of the island you come to a spot where the Snohomish River and Steamboat Slough meet. There are benches and tables for picnicking, and it really is a lovely site. This is my favorite part of this trail. From the hwy 2 trestle you can see this spot and there has been a half sunken boat sitting off shore for a long time.
I have always wanted to photograph this boat but never found a way to get to it. You can see the boat from this particular vantage point, but it is on the opposite side and I still couldn’t get close enough to it. I am thinking I’ll have to take a boat if I want to get close enough.
Directions to both trails.
(From the south, drive north on Interstate 5and take Exit 195 (Marine View Drive). Turn left onto East Marine View Drive and continue to state Route 529 North (Marysville trestle). From 529 North, after crossing the river, take the first exit on your right (Smith Island Access/Frontage Road). Follow signs to Langus Riverfront Park and Spencer Island. You will find yourself on Smith Island Rd and just before the I-5 overpass there is a small parking area on the right. You will see the Spencer Island access sign.
The west entrance to Spencer Island is a much shorter trail to the island. You actually go the same way as above but you pass the parking area and Smith Island Rd becomes 4th street. You will see the Everett waste facility (not a great sight but you pass it soon enough) and there is a parking lot on the right. You will follow the path between the facility lagoons straight to the Spencer Island Bridge. This path offers a wonderful view of Mt. Baker.
Once you go over the bridge you can go either left or right. The trail to the right is the south trail loop I mentioned above. If you go to the left (to the north) the trail is very scenic. This half of the island is maintained by the Dept. of fish and Wildlife (in winter and spring steer clear of this side of the island since hunting is permitted here) , and the southern half is maintained by Snohomish County Parks. These trails used to encircle the island but flooding has since made this impossible. I, on the other hand, like to go straight before I enjoy the trails. There is a clearing here and a small barn/shack stands here. There used to be a large barn that was once owned by a farmer named Tom Mormon. Unfortunately the large barn blew down in a windstorm in 2006.
This area also has a plank bridge with interpretive signs about the area and it’s history. The entire island is a wetland so the middle is not accessible. However, the areas you can access are brimming with birds and wildlife. We saw an abundance of different species, including a few heron, waxwings, an osprey and dozens of others that I can’t identify. The view of the Cascades from here is breathtaking. Butterflies and wildflowers are most prominent along the trails.
I believe that Spencer Island is one of the better places to birdwatch here in Washington. I am still amazed that a place of such natural beauty could be located so close to an urban area. Spencer Island offers well maintained trails, hundreds of species of birds and wildlife, and expansive wetlands with beautiful vegetation. To the north is a perfect view of Mt baker, to the east are the rugged Cascades, and to the south you can see Mt Rainier from some spots along the south trail. What more can you ask for? (The only two drawbacks are that you may hear the noise from I-5, and if the wind is blowing to the east you may smell the wastewater plant. I have not experienced either of these and I have been to Spencer Island quite a few times.)
The only confusing part for me was the not knowing which trail to start from. I will include a link to the google map which will help if you are as unsure as I was. Zoom in for a better look.
View Larger Map
***Winter and spring; stay clear of north section of the Island Oct-Jan for hunting season***
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