The Coal Creek trail to Redtown, site of a mining town in the late 1800s, was the first hike I did in Washington and the first I wrote about in Hiking Washington’s History. I could walk out of my suburban home, follow a social and deer trail down a hill, slog through what is probably a wetlands, to Coal Creek. A trail follows its banks, past an old farm-site (with wagon wheels chained to a tree), past mining artifacts (coal and bricks), onto the old road-bed of the Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad, which only reached Newcastle, past a cinder mine, the remains of the railroad turn-table, and finally reaches Redtown. Near the end of the hike there were old interpretive signs and a black hole in the ground–an air shaft going down 100 feet to the mines. The trail was rich in both natural and human history.
In the 30 years since my first hike , King County has greatly improved the trail, part of the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Updated, easy to read interpretive signs mark the Redtown end of the trail. Bridges and stairs have been constructed. The Primrose Trail loop is now doable.
The most important charms remain–the concrete blocks of the turntable covered with fall leaves, the North Fork falls full in October, the remains of a wood-constructed plume in the creek and the visible coal seam, even the bricks discarded from the Mutual Materials lot, now a housing development. You can still walk this three-mile trail and not be in sight of homes or parkways and be greeted by this weathered sign, an historic artifact on its own.