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Friday, February 4, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

Rasar State Park trail

Location: Concrete

Length: Four miles.

Level of difficulty: Level to gentle dirt/gravel trails and paved path down to the river.

Setting: This new 168-acre state park occupies a beautiful location along the meandering Skagit River, and features more than 4,000 feet of freshwater shoreline. The park offers lovely views of the mountains that flank the river valley to the north and south, including those of the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. The trails lie in the southern end of the park and are reached from the campgrounds or the day-use area. Winding down from the forest of cedars, Douglas fir, big leaf maples and alders, the paths pass through fields to follow along the river.

This region was first occupied by loggers, and then settled by farmers. The park area was formerly an old farm site on the Skagit River; some of the hayfields near the river are mowed to maintain the area's farming legacy. Interpretive signs in the fields and along the river (removed in winter) describe the park's history and habitats.

The park's name comes from the Rasar family (pronounced "racer"), who donated the property in 1985. Park buildings in the day-use area were cleverly designed to resemble the construction style of those built during the 1930s CCC projects.

Highlights: Eagles feed on winter salmon runs in the Skagit River (well-known eagle-spotting sites off Highway 20 from Rockport to Marblemount lie several miles east of here), so the park is a good spot for eagle watching. Mornings offer the best chance of a sighting. For more information on the park call 800-233-0321 or 360-826-3942.

Facilities: Restrooms, year-round campground (first-come, first-serve basis) and playground.

Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect for pets.

Directions: From Interstate 5, north of Mount Vernon, take Highway 20 east. Fifteen miles east of Sedro Wooley, turn right on Lusk Road (state park sign will alert you to turnoff) and follow signs 1.5 miles to the park.

Cathy McDonald is coauthor with Stephen Whitney of "Nature Walks In and Around Seattle," with photographs by James Hendrickson (The Mountaineers, second edition, 1997).

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Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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