Exploring the New Gnome Trail in Maple Valley

New Gnome Trail Entrance Sign

The New Gnome Trail was created after the original Gnomes Trail needed a new location. The private neighborhood in which the original Gnomes Trail was accessed became too busy with outside traffic, so the neighborhood wanted it moved. It was previously in the Henry Ridge Natural Area, and with the help of the community, they moved the gnomes to the New Gnome Trail, almost two miles away from the original site.  Now that is a community in action!

I love that the community came together to preserve this fun trail for future gnome hunters. The new path is much easier to find than the original Gnomes Trail, and there is ample parking here. 

The New Gnome Trail is at 25719 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley, WA 98038The Maple Valley Farmers Market uses the parking area from May through September, so if you come on a weekend during those months, be prepared for a crowded parking lot.  I visited in early Spring, and there were only three other cars there, with plenty of parking right next to the main trailhead.

About the New Gnome Trail

Trail Length: 0.7 miles (roundtrip)

Elevation Gain: ~ 75 feet

Trail Difficulty Rating: Easy

Time Needed: 30 minutes to 1-hour

Features: Gnomes hidden all around the trail, mossy trees and beautiful forest foliage, an easy walk in the woods, good for small kids

Additional Facilities: Portable restrooms are available near the entrance by the covered picnic area. There are also some picnic tables and benches in this area of the parking lot.

The New Gnomes Trail: Getting to the Trailhead

Address: 25719 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley, WA 98038

As you enter the parking lot, make a right and follow the one-way signs toward the back of the parking area, where it curves around and to the left. Here you will see the main trailhead on the right and parking to your left.

There is another entrance further south from the main northwest entrance, referred to as the “Market entrance.” However, the northwest entrance is the primary entrance, and all directions in this post are from the northwest entrance.

Hiking the New Gnome Trail

Begin at the main northwest trailhead entrance. Walk about 20 feet, and you come to a “Y” in the trail. Stay left at the Y, and you should see a couple of Gnome trail signs on the trees on both sides of this path. 

Continue up a short steepish hill.  This is the only hill along the New Gnome Trail.  At the top of the hill, you’ll come to a “T.” Take a left here to continue to the Gnomes Trail Loop. 

short hill to T in the trail
The short hill which leads to a "T" in the trail. Make a left at the top.

Beginning the Gnome Loop

In about .10 miles, you will arrive at a clearing with multiple paths.  Go right here to begin your loop.  You will return to this clearing after completing the loop.

The Clearing with three paths
The clearing with the three trails. Make a right here to start the Gnomes Loop.

After taking the path on the right, continue straight, and soon the path will curve to the left as it loops back around. If you’re lucky, no one will have bothered the Bob Ross-looking tree gnome, and you can use it as your marker to veer left (see photos below).

You will also see a smaller path that continues straight and passes around a cluster of trees. However, this is just a side path. You can take it if you want, and if you do, make sure you make left turns to bring you back to the main loop.  This, however, is not a part of the main trail loop.  

There are a lot of small trails, all shooting off the New Gnomes Trail. The main route is typically the widest and most worn-looking. To stay on the main trail, you’ll take a left at this spot and follow the path.

The Gnome Graveyard

After turning left and following the curve of the loop, continue to go left as it curves around. Soon, you come across the gnome “graveyard.” You know you’ve almost completed the loop when you reach this point. Soon after passing the gnomes graveyard you’ll come back to the clearing and continue straight to return the way you came and back to the parking area.

gnome graveyard
The gnome graveyard. A sad tribute to the fallen gnomes.

Summary of New Gnome Trail Directions

  • At the “Y” (starting at the main northwest trailhead) go left.
  • At the “T” at the top of the short hill, turn left.
  • When you reach the clearing with three paths, the parking lot and market will be to your left, straight ahead is the exit to the Gnome Loop, and to the right is the entrance to the loop.  Go right.
  • After turning right walk a short way before the path curves to the left. You will also see a smaller trail that leads straight.  Turn left here to stay on the main path.
  • Continue to follow this main trail as it curves left each time. When you come across the Gnomes “graveyard” you’ll know you almost finished the short loop.  Soon after passing the “graveyard”, you’ll arrive at the clearing again.  Head straight to go back the way you came and return to your car.

Some of My Favorite Gnomes

Comparing the Original Gnomes Trail to the New Gnome Trail

The Original Gnomes Trail was more of a hike than the New Gnome Trail. I preferred the original’s length as I felt like I got more of a hiking experience from it. The New Gnome Trail feels more like a meander in the woods. I liken it to an Easter egg hunt but for Gnomes. Kids will love it!

The New Gnome Trail is one of the most kid-friendly trails I know of.  It is excellent for kids ten years old and younger.  I think kids older than that may get bored or not find it challenging enough.

However, if you are bringing older kids that prefer a longer hike, there are many offshoots to the New Gnome Trail to extend your hike.  At the “T” in the trail at the top of the short hill where I said to make a left, you can take a right instead, and the path will take you as far as Lake Wilderness!  

A Mom and Daughter walking the new gnome trail
A mom and daughter hunting gnomes together. The daughter would call out in excitement as she found another one.

Contributing to the New Gnome Trail

There is one more way you can enjoy and contribute to the New Gnome Trail. By bringing your own gnome to leave for others to enjoy. The New Gnome Trail was vandalized shortly before my visit and many of the gnomes had been damaged or moved. So other hikers and fellow gnome collectors have joined together to restore the gnomes living here. 

I know some in the community come and take the gnomes to repaint after they are too weathered and others come with their kids and have fun adding their own additions to the trail. It is an interactive and ever-changing trail.


Also, on the note of vandalism, this community as well as its law enforcement officers do their best to discourage and prevent vandals. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.  There are some reports of hikers having their cars broken into while parked here.  I did not have any issues during my visit, but it does happen. Make sure you don’t leave any valuables in sight or anything a vandal might consider worth breaking in to get.

Final Thoughts

This trail is perfect for kids ten and younger and anyone who loves gnomes. It is less of a hike and more of a fun stroll in the forest where gnomes and fairy creatures abide. Parking is free, and there is fun for all! I spent around 30-minutes hiking the New Gnome Trail, and if you were here with kids who wanted to follow all the little trails to find more hidden gnomes, you could give it up to one hour.

Happy Gnome Hunting!

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Hiking the NEW Gnome Trail

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