Robinson Canyon trail, LT Murray Wildlife Area,
A sick cat waylaid our camping plans, so we opted for a hike that is relatively close to the Seattle area. We had camped at the LT Murray Wildlife Area several years ago, but we did not follow the Washington Trail Associations recommended trail route - Robinson and Ainsley Canyons.
We followed the directions carefully as there are a lot of trails, jeep roads, and old jeep roads crisscrossing the area. It could be easy to get misdirected if we weren't carefully enough. In fact, we did get misdirected when passing through the aspen groove. But we followed our own instincts and ended up finding the little stone building that seems to be the cornerstone of this hike. Although I enjoyed hiking through the meadows of wildflowers, ponderosa pines, sagebrush, apsen and chokecherry groves, the trail is named "Robinson and Ainsley Canyons" which are not the highlights of this trail route. In fact when the trail does actually meet up with the canyons (toward the end of the route), the description just sort of tells you that you can go right or left for these canyons, but not much more.
After following the trail description to the stone house, we hiked up and back down Ainsley Canyon, along the grassy slope across from the steep balsalt wall on the opposite side of the canyon. The trail crossed the creek a couple of times, but got very muddy just as the canyon walls began to flatten out. Overall it was a nice hike though misnamed. The wildflower display was grandeous and the birdlife was not too bad either. Warbling Vireos, Western Wood-pewees, and Yellow Warblers sang from the aspens and cottonwoods along the creeks. Lazuli Buntings, MacGillvary's Warblers and Nashville Warblers sang from the hillsides. And the hoots of Sooty Grouse resonated the Pondersa pines. Robinson and Ainsley Canyons offer a great variety of habitats - rocky canyons, meadows of wildflowers, Ponderosa pines, sagebrush and ridgelines. Whichever trail taken - even if not the one described by WTA - will be sure to please the nature lover on a spring day.