A Meander along Big Ditch

Snow Geese III found this place while scouting places to put in kayaks.  It is not a very good kayak put in, as it is only usable near or at high tide.  The ‘good goop,’ tidal estuary muck, is world class here.  If the tide is high enough, you can float over it, walking into it is not an option.  The other day it was very windy and not a good day for either kayaking or cycling, so I decided to take a little stoll along Big Ditch to the end of the trail at the salt water end.

Big Ditch essentially is a big ditch that collects various field and stream run offs and channels the water into Skagit Bay about 12 miles south of Highland Garden House Bed and Breakfast in Mount Vernon, WA.  Here is a locating map with the ‘A’ icon at the parking lot.  This is a Discover Pass required site.

I left this map view at this close up level to give you an idea of what the country looks like; when you get there it is very flat and hard to see what is around.  You can move this view out to get a better view of how to get to the parking lot.  The land to the West is raw, untouched tidelands with grass, cattails, brush and timber snags and roots.  The land to the east is farmland diked from the original marshes and swamps.  You can walk along the dike and view both sides at the same time.

A cloud of Snow GeeseThe day I took this walk I heard first, then visually noticed, a large flock of Snow Geese to the north, near the salt water line.  Then this flock took to the air and settled in the field just to the east of the parking lot.  What a sight!  The flock is just above the brown grass line, mid and to the right of center.  They are flying toward the right.

Tide LandsHere is what the land to the west looks like.  You can walk out over this without getting too wet, but there are channels and holes everywhere.  This picture was taken from the trail that runs along the dike.  I have never been to this place at any time of the year when there was not something to see that was interesting.  You can always see Red Tailed Hawks cruising the fields, Great Blue Herons gliding along the beaches or working the field ditches or masses of Dunlin working the tide lines.  I have seen Bald Eagles here, too.  And of course, ducks.

The trail to the salt water starts just to the west of the dam that contains the tidal gates.  Essentially one way gates that allow water to drain off the land at low tide and self-close themselves as the tide rises, so salt water does not flood back into the inland side of the ditch. Walk across the dam and turn left.  This trail follows the ditch all the way to the incoming or outgoing tide.  Be prepared to meet mud, stickers, brush and some critters!.

Dennis’til next time,
Dennis George
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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