Selected Intimate Landscapes from the Newcastle Area Trail – 360Cities Blog

Photography and text by Bill Edwards

Intimate View

My longer photo trips into Washington’s expansive Cascades mountains provide ample opportunities to capture rugged mountain landscapes with dramatic vistas, while the local forest trails are all about the small views. I affectionately call them “Intimate Views”.

Between the rains, I hike a lonely trail through the glistening shelter of wet forest. I experienced “Shinrin-yoku” and right-brain drift, my journey into mystical, restorative spiritual experiences. I observe the changing textures of the seasons and sadly recall the striking colors of fallen leaves on a magical November day not long ago. My mind is calm, like still water, and inspired to create a jungle haiku. In these moments, I see the incredible beauty of the arching sword ferns, the omnipresent lichens, and the flaky bark of the Pacific Madrone. I often hear the rush of water by the trail and the unseen birdsong in the distance. And then, I found a special place that compelled me to stop. I took out my tripod.

Below, you can enjoy six panoramic views from each of the trails. You can see all 18 images that make up the ‘Newcastle Area Track Intimate Landscape’ in this panorama series.

Terrace Path, November 1, 2019

Newcastle Trail, Boulder Grove, Newcastle, WA State

Boulder Grove surrounds a weathered wooden bench at the transition on the Terrace Trail. Today, the first of November, the fallen leaves of nearby maple trees blend with the soft afternoon light to create a golden hue that transforms the forest into a place of enchantment.

· Cross-City RouteMarch 7, 2023

Madrone Grove, CrossTown Trail, Newcastle, WA

Early on the seventh day of March, the sun rises through the tangle of trees on the East CrossTown Trail. The stars of this forest are the Pacific madrone, Arbutus menziesii, a broadleaf evergreen tree that often stretches south toward the coastal slopes in search of light. Its twisted stems and orange-red peeling bark are unique to this species

East May Creek TrailJanuary 14, 2023

Mossy Kingdom, May Creek Trail, Newcastle, WA

The midday winter sun filtered through the trees and crossed the gorge at the edge of the trail illuminating the mossy trees with ethereal light. The May Creek Trail winds from side to side and up and down along the river drainage. The winding nature of the trail provides for ever-changing views, creating an interesting and captivating experience for hikers.

· Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park TrailsMarch 22, 2023: India’s Trail, Distant Lands, Shy Bear, and Impostor’s Track

Headwaters, Far Country Falls, Cougar Mountain, WA

This view from the top of Far Country Falls could be that of Rivendell, another magical fairy world sanctuary. The falling water is occasionally blanketed by sword ferns and mossy fallen tree branches as it cascades down through a garden of moss-covered boulders to drop into a forest gorge. Falling water creates an interesting and intimate sight in the forest, a place that invites closer observation of nature’s wonders.

· Coal Creek TrailMarch 17, 2023

Creekside Vista, Coal Creek Trail, Bellevue, WA

Moss hangs heavily on a fallen tree just off the short interpretive circle, accessed by two small wooden bridges. The trail features sturdy signs telling the turn-of-the-century history of the coal mining industry here from 1864 to 1963. Now reclaimed as the Coal Creek Bellevue Natural Area, the trail provides opportunities to hike along the turbulent river and appreciate the mossy forests of mid -March.

· Primrose LineMarch 27, 2023: Coal Creek and Primrose Trails

Big Timber Truss Bridge, Primrose Trail, Bellevue, WA

Hikers in the Coal Creek Natural Area walking the Primrose Trail will cross a large log frame bridge that spans Coal Creek beneath a canopy of conifers and Big Leaf Maple trees. The gaps between the reels provide a window into an enchanted, mystical forest where one can stop and contemplate nature.

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