Mileage: 3362ft (2/3 mile)
Elevation Gain/Highest: 80ft/1388ft
Map: Green Trail McCoy Peak No. 333, my GAIA
Favorite Eats After Hike: Pack A Cooler but the IGA in Randle had Green Trails maps, fresh produce and kombucha!
This was a short hike we did at the beginning of our Covel Falls to Angel Falls hike this past Memorial Day. I wanted to see just what a trail designed for the blind would look like and since it would connect with the longer trail it seemed like a good time to check it out.
A crosswalk from the Cispus Learning Center took us across to the trailhead and a sign for the trail made by the Lions clubs of Lewis County. The trail begins with posts on the right hand side and yellow line connecting them for those with limited vision to hold onto.
It was interesting to try and walk the trail with our eyes closed. The trail is mostly flat but there were plenty of dips, roots and stumps that I imagine would be challenging for anyone truly visually impaired. I wouldn’t say this trail was barrier free despite what was written on the sign in the beginning.
The trail soon split and we took the loop counterclockwise as it wondered through the forest. There were a couple places the vegetation along the trail grew past the lined border and I wondered if it was intentional or not. It sure did startle when you had your eyes closed and a branch tapped you on the head as you walked underneath!
My favorite part was how the yellow line takes you around a tall cedar tree and I imagined what it would feel like to be holding it with my one hand to make my way around while running my other hand along the bark of the old growth cedar.
The trail met the Covel Creek Trail here, about 1/4 mile in, and came out at the creek and a sitting area. We wondered down to the water and here was a wood structure in the bed of the creek. I tried to guess what it was for, was it a kind of guide for someone to be able to step out and explore the stream as it rushed by?
Continuing the Braille Trail loop and leaving the Covel Creek Trail, it was another 1/4 miles back to the TH. There was even a place where the line went “off trail” in order to run next to a downed cedar log covered with moss and ferns. I wondered what someone would “see” when they touched that.
Back to the trailhead after our 2/3 mile trek, it was easy to see how this would be a great way for someone to access the outdoors without the gift of sight. It could also make those of us who are able to see all this beauty a chance to stop and appreciate it even more.
Directions: Take the exit off I-5 for SR 12 signed for Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier (White Pass). Drive about 47 miles to the small town of Randle and turn right on SR 131 signed for Mt. St. Helens. In one mile the road splits but you keep left on FR 23 nd follow the signs for the Cispus Learning Center. In 8 more miles you will turn right onto Cispus Road (FR 29) and cross over the Cispus River. You’ll soon turn right again to stay on Cispus Road (FR 28) and cross over Yellowjacket Creek. Turning right once more on FR 76 (still Cispus Rd), you will see the sign for the learning center on your right in about 1/2 mile. There is a small FR to park in at the End School Zone sign or park along the entrance to the school or road.