old robe trail

Exploring the Historic Train Canyon on Old Robe Trail

Nathan Sado Fitness Articles, Travel

Old Robe Trail is just outside of Granite Falls, Washington. It is actually the route of an old train track that transported silver and gold from what used to be the town of Monte Christo within the Cascade Mountains to the city of Everett, Washington.

The tracks were originally built in 1892 and were under constant repair from flooding and slides as much of the framework was built out of wood.  To this day you can still find the remains of tunnels, tracks and framework from that era.

Robe Canyon Historic Trail

Robe Canyon Historic Trail

The trail begins 6 miles east of Granite Falls. On the right side of the road you will see a rustic sign for Old Robe Trail. There are a few parking spots available on the sides of the road near the sign. You begin your journey heading into the woods from the sign and will descend easy switch backs to the river below in the canyon.

Once you reach the river you will begin to travel along the river’s edge. There are many wild berries along the trail including wild cranberries, salmon berries and blueberries. Be careful around the river, depending on the time of year the river can be very fast and powerful, but enjoyable to watch.

old robe trail

Robe Canyon Historic Trail

Eventually you will come to the first tunnel. It may seem a bit dark and scary at first but just after you enter you will begin to see the light from the other side. If it is a cloudy day you may want a flashlight for this one.

old robe trail

old robe canyon trail

Periodically on the trail you may come across fallen boulders and trees. These are usually fairly easily passable by carefully climbing over or finding a route around. There are also spots with loose gravel and steep slopes. Make sure you have good footing and maintain your balance. Volunteers have put ropes in some areas to help you out. I do recommend some good hiking shoes for safety and comfort.


The second tunnel is fairly short with a large slide at the other end. This too can be passed with a little planning of your route through the trees and boulders.

old robe trail hike

Finally you arrive at the narrow railroad track barrier. Watch your step along this bridge looking structure as one false move and it is a long fall to the rocks below.  This is a good spot to stop and enjoy a lunch.

old robe trail

old robe trail

If you do decide to cross this narrow passage, shortly after you will come to another tunnel. This tunnel is collapsed about 100 yards into it. You can not pass through the tunnel. The trail continues on to the left of this tunnel. At this point the trail begins to become fairly advanced. You will need the help of ropes in place on the trail to continue up the mountain.

old robe trail

I do not recommend going past this point unless you are an avid mountaineer and do so at your own risk.  Either way this trail is a blast to hike and it is great to see all the history and scenery along this route. A great half day hike!

If you happen to be staying in the area for longer than half a day, there are numerous campgrounds, other hikes and unique spots to explore as well. Here is a list of just a few:

  • Explore the small town of Granite Falls and have a pint of beer at the Spar Tree Bar and Grill.
  • Head up and summit Mount Pilchuck for a full day hike.
  • Check out Big Four Ice Caves on the mountain loop highway.
  • Camp along the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River.
  • Go back in time and try your luck at gold panning one of the many creeks.

Whether you come to this area for just a day hike or a week long camping adventure, this wild and expansive area will deliver. There is so much to explore and an endless supply of beauty to take in.  Take a deep breath in and enjoy!