MORNING STAR NRCA*
Features Protected: Mid-elevation and subalpine forest plant communities; mid-elevation wetland and bog; one state-threatened plant species; five state-sensitive plant species; marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, Pacific fisher, and bull trout.
Ecoregion: North Cascades (Snohomish County)
This 33,592-acre mountainous conservation area protects outstanding examples of native plant communities and other ecological features, such as subalpine meadows, wetlands, and lakes. Six plant species rare to Washington state occur within these habitats. The site is also large enough to provide important habitat for threatened and endangered wide-ranging wildlife such as Pacific fisher, grizzly bear, and gray wolf. The NRCA protects the middle and high elevations around the Spada Lake basin, which captures warm moist air as it moves inland from Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean to create one of the wettest areas in the North Cascade Mountains. High precipitation and cool temperatures cause subalpine plant communities to occur at unusually low elevations in this region.
Science, Research and Monitoring
Public and private universities, other research institutions, and individual researchers may contact DNR to propose a research project at the site. If you are interested in pursuing research at Morning Star NRCA, please contact David Wilderman, natural areas ecologist, at email@example.com.
Examples of research and monitoring projects that have been carried out at Morning Star NRCA
Environmental Education and Public Access
The steep topography of Morning Star NRCA offers visitors expansive views of Spada Lake, the Puget lowlands and the Cascade Mountains. Several trails in the Mount Pilchuck, and Greider Ridge areas provide access to natural forests, prominent ridges, and subalpine meadows and lakes. Currently no formal educational programs are available at the NRCA; however, a number of wilderness trails can be accessed from various trailheads throughout the NRCA. The trails are not ADA accessible; however, accessible toilets are available at the Ashland Lakes trailhead and at the Boulder/Greider trailhead. For more information, contact the DNR Northwest Region natural areas manager.
Directions to the Site
Ashland Lakes: From Everett, travel east on Highway 2. Take Highway 204 to Lake Stevens. Travel north on Highway 9 to Highway 92. Travel on Highway 92 to Granite Falls. Travel from Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway approximately 15.7 miles to FS road 4020, and follow signs to trailhead.
Walt Bailey Trail: Same as for Ashland Lakes, except travel on Mountain Loop Highway beyond FS road 4020, to FS road 4030, and follow signs to trailhead. Note very limited parking at trailhead (end of road).
Boulder/Greider: From Everett, take Highway 2 to Sultan. Travel up Sultan Basin Road (just east of town) to Olney Pass. Bear right and travel on South Shore Road to PUD recreation site #3 (end of the road), which is also the trailhead for trails to Boulder Lake and Greider Lakes. Note PUD requires that all visitors entering the Spada Lake watershed register at Olney Pass.
Please note conditions change. Check our website (and posted maps) for current closures and/or restrictions to travel.
A Washington State Discover Pass is required for parking at all trailheads in Morning Star NRCA. This funding helps DNR manage these important natural areas across the state.
*Note: In 2007, three NRCAs--Morning Star, Mount Pilchuck, and Greider Ridge were unified under the name Morning Star NRCA.