‘Easy to Reach, Hard to Leave’ North Bend: things locals want visitors to remember this summer

North Bend is one of the most beautiful towns in all of Washington state. For seven months of the year, our locals enjoy a pretty quiet lifestyle. Because we are on the windward slope of the cascade mountains, we have a lot of rain, sometimes 20 to 25 days a month in December and January. We move around town with relative ease until summer hits…

And then it gets different…very different.

If you go on the Washington Trails Association website and do a search for North Bend, you come up with 2340 search results for the area. We are blessed with an abundance of great hiking trails (and waterways) that understandably folks want to visit. We LOVE to share our little slice of heaven, but locals have a few issues with some questionable behavior from folks that we’d like to point out and possibly deter this season.

Pathway Propriety

There are many hikes in the area – Mt. Si, Little Si, Mt. Teneriffe, Twin Falls, Rattlesnake Ledge – that all have trailheads right by where people live. Please don’t park illegally on the road, block our driveways or use them as a turnaround when you are looking for a parking spot. Gravel drives can be expensive and time consuming to maintain and having hundreds of people turn around every weekend can sure take its toll. As John W. puts it:

“They have them (no parking signs) on one side, and I don’t mind the people that want to see the awesome places we have in our backyard…..But a little respect would be nice. My dog shouldn’t have to get used to 30 strange cars pull into her driveway as she waits for one she knows.”

Please get a parking pass and park in the appropriate spot or find another hike in the area if no spot is available. Be aware that hiking is still not allowed on the Rattlesnake Ledge trail (don’t be that hiker that the fire department had to unhook from the top of the chain link fencing) and parking is limited to only 70 spots.

Townie Trashing

We get it. Sometimes that hike was just too tempting and you just had to go, so you parked in a spot you shouldn’t have. Maybe you didn’t see the sign. Maybe you were in a rush but it happens. Our local tow truck drivers aren’t vultures waiting to swoop in and steal your car. They are called by the police to come. They are our friends and neighbors and when you trash them on social media, we see it  – which doesn’t make us more likely to cut a poorly parked car slack in the future. Says Clarks East Towing:

“KCSO calls us to tow them, but when they come to pick up their cars they are so mad and hostile with us. They think we park and wait to tow them. Not the case…. EVER! KCSO calls us to tow, we are just doing what is requested.”

They went on to tell us that parking enforcement is regulated by the King County Sheriff’s Office – NOT by any tow company – for all trail heads in the area. And if your car gets broken into while you’re on that hike, don’t blame us. We’re only 30 miles from Seattle and are in no way backward criminals waiting to prey on the city folk. On that note don’t be that guy who tries to break into the tow yard to get your car, you will get caught.

Waterway Wishes

North Bend also boasts some great areas to innertube and kayak. One of the more popular places to put in and take out kayaks is the 436th Ave. SE bridge which is situated in the middle of several residential neighborhoods. Says Teresa T:

“What I hate is they get out there and I have more than once seen them standing naked on the side of the road changing out of their wet suits… and on a busy street that is uncalled for.”

We’re all for body positivity and I know it feels like the wilderness out here, but we can see you. Put your clothes back on. I live on the river and more than once I’ve looked down to the banks on a sunny day and witnessed folks picnicking in my backyard. If you can see a house, it’s likely you are on their property. I don’t even mind that as long as you leave no trace, but please, whatever you do…don’t poop in my yard. Yes, that has happened, my dog found it. Just no.

Retail Regulations

Locals hike too so we know if can be hungry/thirsty work! Sometimes you really need a bite to eat or a bottle of water after a long hike. There are two things that would help us out when we’re just trying to get groceries and go home on a hot August afternoon. First, don’t drive 5 mph in the services loop while you discuss all the fast food choices. That area is crowded enough. Perhaps park to debate Whopper vs. Big Mac? Second, if you need water for your party of six hikers, perhaps pool your money instead of going through the line six times? It would really help speed things up in the check stand. And please, whatever you do, WEAR YOUR MASK!

Critter Conscientiousness

We know it FEELS like the wilderness when you’re out on the trails, but you are still bound by leash laws while on most of our local trails. The exception to that rule is Rattlesnake Lake where you MUST have voice control of your dog if they aren’t on a leash. Voice control is defined as:  “Heels when told; stays; refrains from barking; is restrained from approaching any other animal or person.”

Did you know that some studies show that up to 50% of bear attacks on humans involved off leash dogs? Even if you can call your dog back to you, if that dog scared up a bear you may also be calling a bear. Admittedly, black bear attacks are very rare, but loose dogs still chase wildlife, poop without their owner’s knowledge, upset people and dogs who are afraid and potentially fall or get lost. We welcome you and Fido, but keep your dog on a leash. It’s for everyone’s protection.

Elk Etiquette

The Snoqualmie Valley elk herd is one of the most popular tourist draws in the area. It really is something to see. Frequently there are many lounging in the area of Meadowbrook Farm along highway 202 between North Bend and Snoqualmie. That stretch of highway has a speed limit of 50 mph with little to no shoulder and at night, no light. PLEASE, no matter what the time of day or how cool you think the herd is, DO NOT stop along the road to take a look. It isn’t safe for you, your fellow drivers or the elk. There are areas to park and view the elk along Boalch Ave SE. Take the time to find an appropriate viewing spot.

Photo credit: Don Detrick

Route Ready

When you come to hike some of the higher or more challenging peaks in the area, please be prepared. Make sure you research the trail so you have the proper attire and equipment to get up and down safely. Note: there is frequently NO cell reception and if you get in trouble, you may find it difficult to contact someone to help you. Always let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back. Our local social media pages are full of speculation and fear every time we hear a siren or a helicopter. Our cliffs are high and sometimes slippery. Our waterways are cold and rough and sometimes our wildlife is very wild. We don’t want to see you hurt – or worse – killed while enjoying the area. PPE is still a very valuable resource in this time of COVID-19, please don’t tax and already stressed healthcare system by being careless.

We know we’ve all been cooped up too long and it has been a gorgeous summer season out here. We all look forward to hiking, biking, swimming and kayaking safely alongside (at six feet) our fellow Washingtonians!  We love sharing our corner of the state with folks from all over the world.

See you outside!

Rattlesnake Lake Photo credit: Melissa Grant
Twin Falls hiking area where cars are regularly parked along the roadside. Photo credit: Sherry Burley

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  • There also has been an influx of nasty TP flowers blooming, I mean left behind by people. Ladies get pack out your TP or get a Kula cloth!

  • Has anyone heard a data-driven, fact-based, non-bureacratic reason for the continued Rattlesnake Ledge closure? It seems that this closure can only contribute to the parking issues referenced in this article.

  • Another PSA for the good of the ordered, use your turn signal! At intersections, lane changes and in round abouts.

  • People who blare their music at Rattlesnake Lake are being extremely inconsiderate of others most especially when their taste in music sucks.

  • Living Snoqualmie