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pula58
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pula58
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PostFri Jan 27, 2023 2:33 pm 
We're looking for a low elevation hike for an overnight snow backpacking trip. I keep driving by this road and have wondered about it. The road starts just west of the main Granite lakes trailhead area, just South of a bridge over the middle Fork Snoqualmie.. Decent place for an overnight snow camp?

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flatsqwerl
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PostSat Jan 28, 2023 6:25 am 
No snow there now. It used to be gated with a private property keep out sign I think..

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Mike Collins
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Mike Collins
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PostSat Jan 28, 2023 9:47 am 
flatsqwerl wrote:
It used to be gated with a private property keep out sign I think..
It is private property. If you walk up the road far enough you will go past a now abandoned house that was used as a meth lab. It was on a toxic waste clean-up site list but I think that was completed in 2006. That road was my approach route for a successful climb of Russian Butte. Along the way up you will go past an improvised sign made from shotgun shells hammered into a tree spelling out "KEEP OUT". This link take you to the EPA cleanup site that seem to have been completed. https://ofmpub.epa.gov/frs_public2/fii_query_detail.disp_program_facility?p_registry_id=110038699049

Dave Workman
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mosey
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PostSat Jan 28, 2023 3:26 pm 
It's all been acquired by king county parks, with the exception of two parcels that the road passes through in the beginning. There's a possibility this is in a trust to eventually donate to the forest lands. The northern road, SE 116th, is entirely owned by King County Parks now. https://blue.kingcounty.com/Assessor/eRealProperty/Dashboard.aspx?ParcelNbr=1123099020 https://blue.kingcounty.com/Assessor/eRealProperty/Dashboard.aspx?ParcelNbr=1123099026 That parcel seems to be for sale occasionally, and is listed at the moment as vacant land. The owner is listed as an LLC. Note: the price is ridiculous because north bend (local area for the computer generated price) has skyrocketed in the last decade. https://www.redfin.com/WA/North-Bend/53420-Se-116th-St-98045/home/22572797 Either way there's nothing of interest up there imo, I've walked the roads and it's just typical lowland second growth. There is the superfund site and lots of rusting car carcasses. It's possible, although unpleasant, and probably dangerous during avalanche seasons since it's a funnel at the bottom of the Russian Buttes, to get to Gifford Lakes that way but it wouldn't save much time vs going up and over the easy trail to Thompson Point from the same trailhead. What's much more interesting is that a rich pharma exec wanted to construct a mansion with complete sports club facilities out there. I bet that tower would have had a great view of the Buttes and Garfield. https://www.seattleweekly.com/news/mansion-in-the-woods/
Quote:
According to documents filed with the county, the couple plans to construct a four-bedroom home topped by a “tower,” along with tennis courts, a 5,000-square-foot “activity center,” four parking stalls, and heated passageways between the estate’s three buildings.

Comma, zimmertr, Fedor
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flatsqwerl
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PostSat Jan 28, 2023 3:37 pm 
1.2 million for less than 2 acres in the woods..wtf

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Fedor
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PostSat Jan 28, 2023 8:33 pm 
I hiked here once last summer. I didn't notice any private property signs. It was relatively clear road for the first mile or so with surprisingly few blowdowns. After that it became covered in tall brush, mostly salmonberry, with an obvious singletrack bootpath running through. Looking at my gps track, I veered off the road for some reason, but I can't remember why.
very few blowdowns other than these
very few blowdowns other than these
salmonberry jungle after the first ~mile
salmonberry jungle after the first ~mile
https://caltopo.com/t/6H7L0UVG8B

RichP, mosey
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flatsqwerl
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PostSun Jan 29, 2023 7:09 am 
Fedor, looks like you did a fair distance through what had to be very brushy terrain. Looks like a trip I need to do now.

Fedor
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puzzlr
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PostMon Jan 30, 2023 11:55 am 
Mosey, parcels 9020, 9021 and 9026 were owned by Bruce Keith McCaw (under the name South Cove Ventures). He died in 2003 and as part of the estate settlement these properties transferred to his wife (under the name 53420 SE 116TH LLC). Keith McCaw never entertained offers to sell the land even when King County purchased most of the surrounding parcels for the Natural Area. Recently his wife has considered selling and paid to have the road through those parcels cleared and freshly graveled in the spring of 2021. The price so far has been higher than agencies are willing to pay but hope it comes through some day. I'm not privy to any of the details. The signs indicate the McCaw private property boundary but AFAIK it's legal to walk through on the King County road. [edit] catsp corrected me that Keith McCaw is the one connected to these parcels, not Bruce.
04/21/2021 Fresh gravel on McCaw properties
04/21/2021 Fresh gravel on McCaw properties
Same spot about three years earlier in 2018
Same spot about three years earlier in 2018
Parcel 9023 is one other private parcel in that area. It's now owned by an individual and the previous owner refused to sell to King County. I hope some day this will become public as well. Fedor, I remember that TR you posted. The DNR decommissioned the upper road (they call it Gifford Creek road) beyond the McCaw property in 2014. It was an easy walk at that time but it's slowly being overgrown, as your photos show. This one may be in an area close to your photo.
04/22/2015 Gifford Creek road decommissioning
04/22/2015 Gifford Creek road decommissioning
There is one interesting spot up that road that was a possibility for development as a hiking destination at one time - the Gifford Balcony. It probably never went anywhere because of the access problems via private property. Note how the map shows a new trail and bridge to cross Granite Creek. It's a rock outcrop and requires about a 15 minute bushwhack off the road. It has a nice view to the north. The proposal called it Oxbow Overlook, but it doesn't overlook the Oxbow so I go with Gifford Balcony.
Gifford Balcony panorama
Gifford Balcony panorama
King County Oxbow Overlook map
King County Oxbow Overlook map

Mid Fork Rocksflickr

Comma, jaysway, Fedor, mosey, flatsqwerl, zimmertr
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tlake
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PostMon Jan 30, 2023 4:05 pm 
When that area was subdivided the property owners further in the development area had easement's to their properties. I checked a few years ago (had to pay the County.) and the easement's were still valid, wouldn't stand to reason we could access county, state or federal lands through that easement? At the gate there was a no trespassing sign a few years ago. I queried King County about the sign and the next I knew the sign was gone.

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puzzlr
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PostSat Feb 11, 2023 2:04 pm 
Here's a timely article about the properties being discussed in this thread. The part about the "last private inholdings in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley" can't be right if all the properties are inside the red oval on the map. There are still private holdings around Upper Granite Lake, Quartz Creek and at the top of Bessemer Peak too (and a few others). Let's hope the sale goes through. I don't see anything on Forterra's website yet, but that's not surprising because it's not completed yet. Another odd thing is that if King County is purchasing the land then how does it become part of the DNR's Middle Fork NRCA? The properties are surrounded by King County Natural Area land. Maybe that part only applies to the parcel on top of Grouse Ridge near the Fire Training Center. Snoqualmie Valley Record - Land acquisition near Snoqualmie River would protect trout habitat, recreation areas
Quote:
King County aims to acquire the last private inholdings in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. ... The remaining 50 acres are located adjacent to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Area. ... Preventing the development of these parcels for residential or other types of recreational development is important to avoid conflict, according to the county. Forterra, a local nonprofit committed to fighting climate change with “land-based solutions,” is assisting with a “buy and hold” agreement, but has not yet acquired the property. The appraisal work has already been completed and the county is currently negotiating with the property owner. Once acquired, these parcels will be added to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Area.

Mid Fork Rocksflickr

Now I Fly, mosey, fourteen410
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Randito
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PostSat Feb 11, 2023 3:42 pm 
I think the properties within the red oval are ones where the likelihood of residential development in the next decade is fairly high. Stuff farther up and accessed only by primitive roads are much less at risk of having a subdivision spring up.

rossb
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fourteen410
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PostSun Feb 11, 2024 9:20 pm 
Attempted to visit the balcony today but got tired of brush bashing and turned around after 1.5 mi. It's gotten pretty gnarly up there.

Now I Fly, JimK, Fedor
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Brucester
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PostTue Feb 13, 2024 6:16 pm 
Is this the road by the bridge? Big metal gate? NT signs high up in trees? We were tempted to see but those pesky NT signs said not that day. Curious now, are there still abandoned cars there? Always cool to see for some weird reason. Should be the site of a grand hotel of the MidFork National Park! Trails up the butte, Via ferrata and a tramway?

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fourteen410
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PostTue Feb 13, 2024 6:54 pm 
It is. No cars left at ye olde meth lab. Didn't see any NT signs this time. See tlake's comment upthread about the easement.

ArcDome
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puzzlr
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puzzlr
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PostWed Feb 14, 2024 1:06 pm 
tlake said last year "I queried King County about the sign and the next I knew the sign was gone." I don't know what signs you meant, but there was still a "Private Property. Keep Out" sign on a tree just past the Granite Creek bridge on Jan 27, 2024. I believe that because there are multiple property owners along that road and it's platted as "SE 116th St" the signs don't apply if you just walk on the road.
Private Property. Keep Out.
Private Property. Keep Out.

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