At only .8 miles the Primrose Trail seems like a quick detour, however, this trail offers some of the best sites to be seen. On this trail you will follow Coal Creek while making a few crossings of the creek via wooden bridges. Along the way you will also pass by Sand Stone Falls, one of Coal Creeks tributaries.
The Primrose Trail is named after a coal seam that was mined in the 1800's. While nature has covered up almost all traces of the mining activities there are a few artifacts that can be spotted along the trail.
I started my hike from the West Primrose trail marker. The first thing that you will notice is that the trail marker is accompanied by a blue closed sign. I did not take notice of this sign as it was to the far right of the trail entrance. In fact I did not know this trail was even closed until I started making this guide and began to photograph my return trip. After researching the trail further I found out that the Primrose trail has been closed for a few years now due to the trail being washed out. While the trail is a bit rough in places, I found the trail to be easy to navigate. Along the way I found out that I was not alone, several other hikers were on the Primrose Trail with me. At that time I did not think to ask them about the trail closure since I was unaware of the closure. I believe that many people still use this trail, you can tell by the worn trail and somebody has written "just be careful" on the East trail marker closed sign. With that being said the trail is "closed" but I will describe my hike on the Primrose Trail.
The trail starts out on a slight decline with the trail consisting of hard packed dirt. I came across some blackberry bushes and began to hear the sound of Coal Creek flowing just ahead. When I approached the creek the trail became narrower and I could see a small drop off where part of the trail has eroded away. The trail widens up a bit and again I was walking among ferns and blackberry bushes. For the next few tenths of a mile I followed the creek almost never losing site of it until I came upon Sand Stone Falls. While the falls are not as impressive when compared to the larger Coal Creek Falls, I always enjoy water features on a trail. The falls appear to come from a large black pipe at the top. The water gently trickles down the rocks incline rather than the typical crashing that you would see from other waterfalls. Once past the falls I came across a wooden bridge which crosses over the creek. The bridge did not look sturdy and a laminated "walk" sign was posted on it. I was to close to the end of the trail to turn back now and decided to press on. Every step that I took on the bridge caused it to shake. I tested each plank before I committed my full weight and continued slowly to the other side. Once on the other side I noticed that many of the screws that were holding the bridge together have now come loose. I’m just glad it held together for my crossing. With the bridge behind me the trail began to climb slightly uphill. On one of the first sets of switchbacks I came across another mining artifact, a pair of coal car axles. Past the axles the trail gets muddier and steeper, however this only lasts about .3 miles as I made my way back to the Coal Creek Trail.
This is a great trail with many sites to see while hiking along Coal Creek. I hope that with the current work being done to the Coal Creek Trail, this trail receives some attention and can be reopened soon.
How to get here:
From I-90 East take Exit 13 and make a right at the stop sign. Continue to follow Lakemont Blvd SE and the Red Town Trailhead parking lot will be on the left, about 3 miles away. This is also the Cougar Mountain parking area. The Coal Creek trail is just across the street from the parking area. Use caution when crossing the street as there are no cross walks. Hike in on the Coal Creek trail for 1.2 miles and the Primrose trail begins on your right.
From Interstate 405, take the Coal Creek Parkway exit which leads you to the city of Newcastle; turn left on Southeast 72nd Street and then another left onto Newcastle-Coal Creek Road. There will be a small dirt parking area about 1.8 miles from the exit. Start hiking down Coal Creek Trail; in about .8 miles you will see the trail marker on your left.
The park is open year around from 8:00AM to Dusk (Primrose Trail currently closed)
-There is no drinkable water located on the trail. Water should be brought with you.
-The nearest restrooms are located at the Red Town Trailhead parking lot.
You will know exactly where on the trail you are when you locate this tree. I'm not sure what type of tree it is but it will be the only one of its kind on the trail. It certainly sticks out amongst the birch and large evergreens.
If you are comming from the West on the Primrose Trail, you will see the waterfall just after the bridge crossing. While not as large, water volume wise, as the North Fork Falls near by it is still a great site to see.