Last year, I saw something pop up on my Facebook feed about six ghost towns in Western Washington you could visit. Today, I marked one of the easiest-to-access off my list.
Northern State Hospital, in Sedro-Wooley, WA, was once a mental hospital and working farm, tended to by the residents. It closed in the early 1970s and is now called Northern State Recreation Area, complete with a frisbee golf course weaving in and out of the decaying buildings.
The main housing unit of the hospital was demolished, but the dairy farms, kitchen buildings and a few other outbuildings remain, left to live out their days in the elements without care.
The campus is sprawling: the Washington Trails Association says that it’s about a five-mile round trip, but it felt like I walked a lot less. Ever the equestrian, I think that it would make a GREAT cross-country course, complete with truly ‘spooky’ obstacles! Fortunately, I’m not the only one as I saw a whole bunch of hoof-prints in the ground!
The ground is flat and well-maintained, in part thanks to the frisbee golf course, so it’s a great walk for people who want to feel like going for a short, easy trail hike. However, due to the somewhat-inappropriate graffiti, I wouldn’t recommend the hike for families with young children.
I don’t have much to say about the buildings, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I didn’t do as much research into the history, and while I took pictures of the informational signs, I don’t remember much.
WARNING: slide show may contain graffiti with offensive language.
After a morning exploration, I needed to find some ice-cream and postcards, so I headed to the nearby town of Sedro-Wooley. I’ve driven through before, but not in the old town. Unfortunately, this is where my phone decided I had enough of picture-taking, so I can’t share with you the beautiful murals and intricate woodcarvings around the town. I did stop at Wooley’s to see about postcards (it’s a cafe/grocery store), but ended up buying one at the town’s community building. A local photographer took pictures of scenes from Skagit County towns and both Wooley’s and the community building sell them. Unfortunately, I didn’t see one from Sedro-Wooley!
I stopped, per recommendation from the Sedro-Wooley clerk, at Hal’s Drive In for ice cream. I ended up with a root beer milkshake — delicious!
Still a little early, I drove past Clear Lake, near Big Lake, and to the top of Little Mountain (there’s a trail head there I’ll need to explore if I can remember it!), reminding me just how beautiful Skagit Country truly is. I got a little lost, but somehow made it back to the highway to head on home.