It can be called one of the Sky Valley’s greatest environmental successes; when a group of people gathered to save Heybrook Ridge from a 95-acre timber harvest in 2006, the task seemed daunting.
But thanks to the small group of activists that formed Friends of Heybrook Ridge (FOHR), the lush forested area above Index was given a voice. Through the advocacy of FOHR, a generous anonymous donation and conservation efforts by the Snohomish County Parks Department, the ridge was saved from being clear-cut and transformed into what is now known as Heybrook Ridge County Park.
FOHR celebrates its success every year during its silent auction fundraiser event, as it continuously works to raise money to support the park. This year’s Heybrook Hoedown takes place 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at the River House café in Index. Admission to the event is $25 per person, with free entry for children under 12.
The event features food, dancing and an auction, with music performed by Native American flute player Peter Ali and local musician Sean “Spare Rib” Horst and his band, the Bluegrass Sauce. All proceeds from the event will be used to build and maintain trails in Heybrook Ridge County Park.
Horst serves on the FOHR board of directors. He and his band have performed every year at the hoedown event, which he described as a great opportunity to enjoy the accomplishments of FOHR as they aspire to do more for the park.
“It was an emotional roller coaster in the beginning,” Horst said. “It’s always nice to have some fun, let off some steam and put some money towards what we’ve worked hard for.”
The momentum initiated by FOHR in 2006 has never really diminished.
Snohomish County thanked FOHR in April for its significant contribution to phase one of the Heybrook trail project. Construction of the newest trail, which begins just outside the town of Index on the south side of the Index-Galena Road, began in March and was completed by summer. The meandering pathway twists and climbs through the heavily treed forest, stretching approximately 1 3/4 miles and climbing roughly 780 feet in elevation. At the top, it offers breathtaking views of the entire Skykomish River Valley, including Bridal Veil Falls, Mt. Index, Mt. Persis and Mt. Baring.
Total cost of the trail was contracted at $87,237, with $47,237 paid for by Snohomish County and $40,000 coming from FOHR. Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers thanked FOHR in a news release earlier this year, commending the group for its efforts in preserving natural spaces.
“We couldn’t be more delighted that this extraordinarily generous donation was made to support the development of the trail. For generations to come, our community will enjoy the beauties of Heybrook Ridge, one of the treasures of Snohomish County’s park system,” Somers said.
Eventually, the hope is to connect the new Heybrook Ridge County Park trail to other local trails. Currently, FOHR is raising money for two additional trails, one lowland trail that will be wheelchair accessible, and another that would connect the new Index trail to the Heybrook lookout trail. Another rewarding hike, the Heybrook lookout trail starts alongside U.S. 2 and travels up the ridge to the United States Forest Service Lookout Tower.
At the top, more adventurous hikers can climb the wooden tower, for visibility that extends across the valley.
FOHR is a 501(C)3 nonprofit. Donations made to FOHR are fully tax-deductible.
For more information about FOHR, visit www.heybrookridge.org or the Facebook page at facebook.com/HeybrookRidge.
The River House café is located at 444 Avenue A in Index.