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An Unusually Hot Early Spring Weekend Visit to Spada Lake

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Making the most of a rare, sunny spring weekend in Seattle, I dedicated most of my Saturday to taking care of household chores and yard work. As a little treat for myself after all that effort, I decided to plan a Sunday morning hike. Even though my kids usually loath morning hikes (or any hikes for that matter), they surprised me this time by being real troopers. Once we hit the trail, they couldn’t help but get caught up in the beauty of nature and the warmth of the sunshine. I set my sights on the Spada Lake area. Growing up in Sultan, this was an area I visited often as a kid. Spada Lake serves as the reservoir for the Sky Valley area, encompassing Sultan, Monroe, and I believe Snohomish. As it’s the primary source of tap water for these communities, it’s considered semi-protected. This means swimming and boating are prohibited, but fishing is allowed in non-motorized boats. There is a newer hike (new to me!) down at the west end of Spada Lake at the Culmback Dam. This is the Sultan River Canyon Trail, it takes you down below the dam into a deep river canyon, so you get elevation on the way out, not the way in.

On a rare early spring day where there were no clouds in the sky and temperature hit well over 70° F, we attempted this hike but the shady areas still had too much snow, and with our two pugs we decided we’d rather stay in the sun and avoid the deep snow. Other hikes in the area include Greider and Boulder Lakes which you cannot access yet this time of year. They are both stunning Alpine lakes. As a kid in the 90s, my dad and I used to hike in and camp overnight at both spots. It’s an adventure I hope to share with my own kids someday!

Though our mission to hike the Sultan River Canyon trail didn’t go as planned, there are plenty of trails all around the Spada area, particularly old logging roads. We ended up walking across the Culmback Dam and followed the trail/road up the hill on the opposite shore of the lake. We made it a four mile walk as we went up the trail about two miles before returning back to the dam. We found a Red-breasted Sapsucker flying back and forth between a patch of Alder Trees searching for lunch. While not an uncommon Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsuckers are more likely found in the forest than in the backyard, in Edmonds we see a ton of Northern Flicker’s and even Pileated Woodpeckers but not often do I see a Sapsucker.

Red-breasted Sapsucker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
We were also excited to be greeted by a curious Ruby-crowned Kinglet (pictured in post banner). While hard to see these little Kinglet’s can flash their ruby crown patch, a sure way to know it’s a Ruby-crowned and not a Gold-crowned or Vireo. In the image gallery you can see a bit of this guy’s ruby crown – look closely!

Useful Links and Info:

  • Read our last Belize post about Placencia and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary!
  • Check out all our other birding and nature adventures here.
  • Be warned that Spada Lake is known for people shooting guns for target practice, it seems that the PUD has maybe decided to crack down on this as I saw many no shooting signs, though I could still hear shooting down below Spada in the Sultan Basin and Kellogg Lake area.
  • Please check out the Kingsyard banner above and give it click. They make some really cool bird feeders and bird houses that you’ll want to check out! Also use for your travel!
  • Most of these shots were taken with the Sony a7 along with the Sony FE 200-600mm lens.
  • Always bring bug spray and sun screen!


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