‘Big Rock’ (another one) in Duvall, Washington

By Dave Tucker, April 12, 2011.

Big Rock south of Duvall. These folks were looking for a nearby geochache. Photo by J. Scurlock. Click to enlarge any photo.

“Big Rock” is an erratic in Duvall, which lies in the Snoqualmie River valley. Loren White, a WWU geology student, and John Scurlock, aerial photographer par excellence (fabulous website), originally told me about the erratic, and John sent me the photo. (Please note that John’s photo was NOT taken from his airplane- not even he flies that low! Bob and Adena Mooers provided directions, Bud Hardwick refined them. Bob collected a small rock sample lying on the ground. Thanks to all for photos. Please don’t bang on the big rock!

Getting there:

The erratic is behind this sign along WA 203, but follow directions to get to parking. A. Mooers photo.

The erratic is about 11 miles south of Monroe along WA 203 (about 1 mile south of Duvall). WA 203 connects Duvall with Carnation to the south, and Monroe to the north. If approaching on highway 203 from the south; the erratic can clearly be seen between the two huge evergreen sequoias directly behind the black and white sign “Duvall 1913.”  The easiest approach to the erratic is by turning east off of WA 203 onto Big Rock Road and almost immediately turning south into the Safeway parking lot.  Drive to the far southwest corner of the parking lot (near the highway on the south end) and park.  Easy walk to the left either on pavement or down a gentle slope to the rock.  The erratic is in the middle of what is now a blocked off segment of the original Big Rock Road (closed when Safeway was constructed). 

Gneissic banding in the Duvall erratic. Adena Mooers photo.

The erratic is medium-sized, 8 feet high or so. I can’t tell from the photo what kind of rock it is, so can’t take a stab at where it may have come from; John said there are some loose chunks at the base that might have a fresh surface, which would help in identification. Bob and Adena collected a couple of chips which they think had fallen off the erratic, though they say that there are others which may be ‘urban erratics’ related to construction. Adena took some great close-up details of the rock. Between the chips Bob and the photos, I can see that the rock is a medium grained gneiss, a metamorphic plutonic rock consisting of whitish quartz and plagioclase grains interspersed with black biotite and hornblende. Chlorite gives the rock a slight pale green tinge. 1 mm white veins cross the small sample I have, and gneissic banding is evident in the photos. I think I see a few very tiny pyrites with my hand lens.

The two big trees are sequoias. The  ‘Big Rock geochache’ webpage tells about them, and has another photo. Coordinates at the rock are 47° 43.542’N, 121° 59.189’W. On the south side of the Safeway building, in a grassy depression, are a cluster of other large rocks, probably erratics that were relocated here when the Safeway building and parking lot were constructed.  This is about 150 ft east of Big Rock.

As an added bonus, John tells us about a nearby place. John wrote “Its the ‘Duvall Grill & Tap Room’, on the main drag of Duvall about 3/8 mi N of the Duvall erratic. I didn’t stop in but noted its proximity to a point of geologic interest. Considering the natural affinity geologists have to beer, I’d expect hordes of them to descend upon Duvall, attempting to kill two birds with, er, one rock.”

Another of Adenas photos shows more banding on the Duvall erratic.


7 Responses

  1. Bob and I went to see this erratic and also noted the location of the Duvall Grill and Tap room . We did not stop for beer thereby solidifying our AMATEUR geologist status!

  2. […] updated the webpage, including revised directions for getting there. See the photos and description here. Gneissic banding in the Duvall erratic. Adena Mooers photo. Click to […]

  3. Big Rock is a park due to historical significance. Early in the town’s history, the city band would gather atop the rock to play for the residents–who would picnic around the base–during city festivals. At the time, the Rock was located at a city park (in a ravine) closer to downtown, but was later moved to accommodate a growing population, and the Big Rock Sate Park was created. In my lifetime it has always been located where it currently sits.

  4. Erratics are protected by policy under the Duvall comprehensive plan which encourages protection of significant natural features such as large boulders.

    • That is a good policy, Curtis. I would certainly hope no one chips at erratics in city parks anywhere.! Bad practice. Dave

  5. The above comment says the rock was moved to its Present location. That is true – by a glacier 10,000 years ago or so. It would be nearly impossible to move by human hands. It is flanked by 2 Sequoia trees planted over 100 years ago. No one is certain who planted them – there are several theories.

  6. There is another gigantic erratic in Duvall – the one that is still in the ravine below and behind Taylor Park in old Duvall. So ScottW is right about a Big Rock closer in to town that is so huge and flat that a band could play on it, and Gregory Paine is correct that the one at Big Rock Road has “always” been there and was not moved there by people.

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