Grab a picnic, and take a stroll among the old-growth trees of Federation Forest. This little-known gem on the White River offers family-friendly hiking and a peek at an important piece of Washington history.A native plant garden surrounds the park’s interpretive center, named for Catherine T. Montgomery. The noted backpacker, teacher and conservationist is credited with being the first to envision the Pacific Crest Trail, back in 1926.
Step inside the center to learn about the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, native to this area, and the Washington State Chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, an organization of women’s service clubs that has worked for decades to preserve this forest. In 1926, the group began a campaign to save some of Washington’s rapidly disappearing old-growth trees, leading to the establishment of Federation Forest.
Whether you’re taking a break on your way to the mountains or looking for an afternoon outing, you will find tranquility on the river and beauty under the park’s cool forest canopy.
Federation Forest is a day-use park with 600 acres of old-growth Douglas-fir trees, mature Western hemlock, Sitka spruce and Western Red cedar. Its short, flat interpretive trails make the park an ideal destination for families with young children.
The Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center will be open June through August on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8:00AM to dusk. During April, May, September and October the Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center may be open on the weekends depending on weather conditions.
Federation Forest State Park began in the mid-1920s as the dream of Jean Caithness Greenlees, a teacher at Everett High School. Alarmed by the pace of deforestation in Washington and across the country, she initiated an effort to preserve a tract of old growth trees for use as a park. Her goal was to ensure that future generations could experience an ecosystem that was rapidly being wiped out.
Greenlees presented her idea to Esther Maltby, the president of the Washington State chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC-WS), then known as the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Maltby lent her support to the plan and the organization launched a “Save a Tree” campaign in 1926. Their goal was to raise $25,000 to purchase a 62-acre stand of old growth forest near Snoqualmie Pass.
The first donation to the project was a $500 check from Stephen Mather, a nationally known conservationist and first director of the National Park Service. Local chapters of the GFWC-WS were called upon to fundraise, which they did by selling “Save a Tree” buttons for $1 each. Donors could also “buy a tree” for $100 to have a bronze plaque with their name placed on a tree in the park. The names of these donors are now on a monument in the park’s picnic area.
It took two years to raise the money, with the final donation coming from Gilbert Grosvenor, president of the National Geographic Society. The park was acquired in 1928 and dedicated in 1934. The name “Federation Forest” was chosen to honor the work of the GFWC-WS.
Tragedy struck the new park in 1938 when logging on adjacent property left its trees vulnerable to wind-throw and it was condemned as a safety hazard. This set off an effort to find a new location for the park. The present-day location along the White River was eventually chosen and was opened to the public on July 16, 1949.
In 1958, Catherine Montgomery, a pioneering educator, conservationist and GFWC-WS member, donated her estate of $89,000 to be used for education at the park. This money was used to build the Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center, which was dedicated on September 20, 1964.
Members of the GFWC-WS continue to volunteer in the park and donate money towards its maintenance to this day.