Sunday, November 21, 2021

Vashon - Bills Trail

Bills Trail - Vashon Island

It is named after Bill Mitchell, a longtime friend and board member. Opened in 2016,  it provides a 1.2 mile link to the mid part of the Shinglemill Creek trail. The limited parking is shared with the Fern Cove entrance on the northside of road. Its a great off-the-beaten path route, but can get muddy in spots during the winter.  

No views, but some sunny breakouts on the hill peaks. 

Upon meeting the Shinglemill Creek trail, you can chose to head back, continue down to Fern Cove or head up for a workout up to the Shinglemill Creek Trailhead. 

Heading down to Fern Cove lets you return to your car via the road for a short distance.  

Area - Shinglemill Creek Preserve (Vashon Island)
Trails - Bills Trail
Length -1.2 mile point-to-point (with longer options) - Moderate Hike
Duration: 1 hour
Trail - Dirt trail, well maintained, no intersections
Bikes & Dogs - Bikes not allowed, Dogs on leash only
View - No views, but plenty of shaded forest
Getting There - From Vashon Highway, turn right on Cedarhurst Road (at the Y intersection at the John L Scott office), continue to limited parking at first Fern Cove entrance. Trailhead is across the street. 
Fee - None, free limited street parking
Map - Shinglemill Creek Preserve Map
Other Trails - This trail connects to the main Shinglemill Creek Trail

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Northwest Hiking Books

I own each of these books for hiking around the Seattle Area. Some of the books do overlap with others on popular hikes, but all the books offer their own view and thoughts on the hikes.

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Seattle: Including Bellevue, Everett, and Tacoma my current go-to book for local hiking on new trails. Its second edition was updated this year (August 18, 2009). The trail maps and route info are very well done -- plus it offers a number of Eastside hikes often not found in local hiking books.

Take a Hike Seattle: Hikes Within Two Hours of the City is my second favorite book for finding good hikes around Seattle. It was one of the first books to have a good map -plus- route information. Since it was published its starting to get a bit out of date - example the Tiger Mountain Big Loop hike on page 56 had a route that is under some redevelopment work. Otherwise, this book has great information about hikes around Seattle.

Beyond Mount Si: The Best Hikes Within 85 Miles of Seattle is a true Hikers book with 70 hikes included in this one small book. The book has the basics: Very good maps, "how to get there" info and some turn by turn directions. The trek descriptions are short -- but very focused on what's important. Its a great book, but starting to get a little out of date -- as it was printed in 2004. Hopefully, a second edition is coming soon.

Day Hike! Central Cascades: The Best Trails You Can Hike in a Day is one of those books that could have been much better. Its got all the great hikes, nice layout, plenty of the basics covered -- but the Maps are pretty disappointing. I am sure it was a good intent, but the maps in this book look like photocopies of b&w topo maps with the hike route drawn on top. Its hard to explain, but the end result is a not so easy to read/view map on many of the hikes. Plus some of the photos are just poor. My copy was from 2005, maybe the newest edition is better.

55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass: Mountains to Sound Greenway was written by some Seattle hiking pioneers Harvey Manning and Ira Spring (photographer). This book was written in 2001 so it has some outdated information. It is a good book but often focuses more on trail planning in the area with a number of "proposed" trails.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sqauk Saved - Party May 10th

Update on the Save Squak campaign - via a partnership between King County and The Trust for Public Land the 226 acres has been saved from development. Much of the credit should go to the "Save Squak" campaign and the Issaquah Alps Trail Club.

On May 10, 2014 there will be a public celebration event that starts at 10 a.m. and includes options for hikes of varying lengths through the property. Access to the celebration location is at 10610 Renton-Issaquah Road SE (State Route 900)

Note: Parks will open the property for hiking-only use in 2015

Press release
A public celebration is being planned to note the acquisition of 226 acres of high-quality forestland in the Issaquah Alps - the result of a partnership between King County and The Trust for Public Land.
"Our partnership to protect Squak Mountain's irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat is cause for celebration," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "I want to thank The Trust for Public Land and the people of King County on behalf of generations who will enjoy hiking, viewing wildlife, and other recreation in this forest."

"Our mission is saving land for people, and that's exactly what we've done here," said Paul Kundtz, State Director for The Trust for Public Land. "We're very proud to have helped add Squak Mountain forest to King County's publicly owned lands."

"Preserving Squak Mountain answers the public call to save the forest from clear cutting and protects this cherished habitat and recreational area adjacent to prized County and State parks," said King County Council Chair Larry Phillips. "I thank The Trust for Public Land for partnering with us to preserve this property."

"This is a great victory for the residents around Squak Mountain that brought this important issue to our attention," said King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, whose district includes Squak Mountain. "Thanks to the advocacy of organizations such as "Save Squak" and the Issaquah Alps Trail Club we are saving valuable habitat while increasing recreational opportunities for King County residents. A public celebration of the Squak Mountain forest acquisition is scheduled for May 10, when partnership leaders and environmental supporters will make brief remarks and invite everyone to take any of several short guided hikes through the forest.

This forestland is closed to the public until 2015, so the May 10 event will be an early opportunity for the public to see the property. King County Parks must prepare the site for public use before full access can be allowed, including property clean-up, removing infrastructure, establishing trail routes, and ensuring property is safe and ready for public use.

The Trust for Public Land purchased the 226-acre property in six parcels from the previous landowner. King County recently purchased about half of the total acreage from The Trust for Public Land using King County Parks Levy regional open space funds, Conservation Futures funds, and Real Estate Excise Taxes.

The Trust for Public Land will retain ownership of the remaining acreage until King County raises the additional funds to complete the purchase. Once all 226 acres have been acquired, King County will add the land to its Cougar-Squak Corridor.

Parks will open the property for hiking-only use in 2015. Parks anticipates having a public planning process in 2015 to help determine future uses for the site.

The May 10 public celebration event starts at 10 a.m. and includes options for hikes of varying lengths through the property. Access to the celebration location is at 10610 Renton-Issaquah Road SE (State Route 900).

There has been significant interest in the public to see this land, trail system, and natural resources conserved. The grassroots efforts were led by the organization "Save Squak" which helped focus community energy in support of this acquisition.

"We could not have wished for or imagined a better cooperative effort between citizen groups, all levels and departments within King County and The Trust for Public Land," said David Kappler of the Issaquah Alps Trail Club, and a primary organizer of the Save Squak citizens group. King County has been interested in maintaining the land's recreational opportunities and preserving its rich forest habitat which supports a variety of wildlife and birds, including black bear, cougar, and possibly endangered marbled murrelets. The headwaters of May Creek, a seven-mile-long salmon stream that flows into Lake Washington, rise here.

A prominent natural feature visible from State Route 900 on the Mountains to Sound Greenway, this part of Squak Mountain has long been used as a private forest camp and is wedged between Squak Mountain State Park and King County's Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) - Summer 2013 Update

Update Aug 2013 -  Issaquah Segment of the trail is now open again.

This part of the trail is from SE 43rd Way to Gilman Blvd. The rest of the project is still scheduled to be completed in Summer 2014

For more info on the project, click here (


Here is why the East Lake Sammamish Trail is now closed, seems odd even small sections are closed on the weekends when no work is being done.

 Note - It will be closed until Summer 2014. More info below...

Pavement, other improvements coming to East Lake Sammamish Trail in Issaquah

Year-long closure in Issaquah allows King County to replace soft-surface trail with blacktop, soft-surface shoulders, better street crossings, drainage and more

Upgrades are coming to King County’s East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) through Issaquah, including removing the existing gravel trail and constructing a 12-foot-wide asphalt trail with gravel shoulders, installing concrete sidewalk connections, retaining walls, fencing and signage, plus wetland mitigation planting and landscaping.

A 2.2-mile-long stretch of the trail from Northwest Gilman Boulevard to Southeast 43rd Way will be closed to all users during construction, which could take up to one year. The closure is expected to begin May 14.
The extensive scope of work in the trail’s narrow corridor requires complete closure of the trail. Trail users are advised to find alternate routes around the closed portion.

Nearby East Lake Sammamish Parkway features both bike lanes and sidewalks for ELST users who want to travel along the eastern shoreline of the lake and around the closed stretch of trail. Those who simply want to get out on a trail are encouraged to visit other portions of King County’s 175-mile regional trails system during construction.

The upgrades will make the trail accessible to a wider range of users, including bicyclists with narrow tires, inline skaters and others. Upgraded intersection and street crossing treatments will also be installed.
The estimated cost of completing the Issaquah segment is $2.74 million, with funding provided by the 2008-2013 voter-approved King County Open Space and Trails Levy, the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program, and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

This project is the second segment of the ELST to be converted from the interim soft-surface trail to the finished master-planned trail. The Redmond segment was completed November 2011, while design of the North Sammamish Segment began December 2011 and construction is expected to begin in 2013.

King County purchased the 11-mile-long East Lake Sammamish rail banked corridor in 1998. An interim soft-surface trail was completed in 2006.
The ELST follows an historic railroad route along the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish within the cities of Redmond, Sammamish and Issaquah. Part of the “Locks to Lakes Corridor,” the trail follows an off-road corridor along the lake and through lakeside communities.

Once the ELST is fully developed, it will be part of a 44-mile-long regional urban trail corridor from Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood to Issaquah. More information is available at

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Coal Creek Trail

Trail Route: Coal Creek trail from Coal Creek Parkways trailhead to Red Town trailhead

Update - Old Trailhead and Parking Lot Open
The roadwork and new bridge are complete - old trailhead is open again

Trail Report:
The trailhead of this hike is located right off Coal Creek Parkway between 405 and Newcastle. Its a small dirt parking lot which fits about 6-7 cars. This first part of this hike can be popular on weekends, the upper part of the hike is less crowded.

In 2007-08 there was alot of winter damage in the Coal Creek Park, you would see lots of knocked over trees and erosion around the trail. Most of the damage has been repaired - logs cleared, new bridges built, etc. The hike starts out very close to Coal Creek. After leaving the trailhead you can hear the parkway for a while, but soon it fades away as you get deeper into the park.

The trail is very well packed and seems well traveled over the years. The first half mile is very enjoyable and is mostly flat - making for a nice creekside adventure. At about .3 mile you will meet the intersection with the Forest Drive Trail. This is an access point for those reaching Coal Creek from Forest drive and the local Bellevue trail system.

The old damaged bridges have been replaced with new wide bridges over Coal Creek.

After the bridge the trail becomes very forest-like, and less creekside. The area is full of deer, birds and small forest animals. The trail becomes fairly narrow at this point. Another new bridge is here -- along with the old bridge next to it.

The primrose trail is closed and is not accessible as an alternate trail from the Coal Creek trail.

Past the Primrose trail, the route follows an old railroad road.

There are a couple unmarked intersections on this upper part of the trail. The first is a fork in the trail. Take the trail to the LEFT (it wont seem correct, but the trail to the right simply goes back up to the nearby neighborhood.)

After passing a clearing and a slight uphill, the trail continues along the old railroad path. After this point you will reach a gravel access road. This is another unmarked intersection, continue straight and slightly uphill.

The Coal Creek trail continues off to the left - there is a sign at this intersection. The trail narrows for a while and continues on a very cool stair/bridge built over one of the small streams.

After a short distance the trail has been much improved with a cleared and mulched path.

Be on the look to the right for a old railroad turnaround -- its not just a cement landing in a clearing, but shows how the area was used in years past.

The trail passes the North Fork Falls with two new viewing areas to get up close.

After the new bridge, the trail splits - you can take either route to reach the coal mine shaft and informational sign (now moved next to the cave).

The trail continues up to a meadow area that is across the street from the Red Town Trailhead which serves Cougar Mountain and its great trail system.

To return to the Coal Creek Parkway trailhead, simply turn around and re-trace your route back down. The elevation change is only 460 feet, and there are no steep hills. Its a very nice creekside hike for anyone.

Coal Creek Trail at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Washington

Area - Coal Creek Park (Near Bellevue, Washington)
Trails - Coal Creek Trail (N1), Cougar Mountain Regional Trail (Non-detailed Map , Upper section Map -- Note: neither of these maps show the unmarked intersections)
Elevation - Gain of 460 feet - start at 180 ft to top of 640 ft
Length - 6 miles out and back - 2 hours easy hike
Trail - Trail varies from single track to gravel roads. A couple good stops along the way.
Bikes - Not allowed on this hike
View - no true views, but lots to look at -- waterfall, railroad history, coal mines
Getting There - Take I-90 to Coal Creek Parkway - head east. The trailhead is on the east side of the road before you reach Newcastle.
Fee- None, free parking
Other Trails - Only real connecting trail on this hike is closed. This hike does lead to the Cougar Mountain trails system.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Save Squak Mountain

You may have seen the signs along May Valley Road and SR900. If you hike Cougar or Squak Mountain, be sure to check out this site for more info:

Media Coverage:

PUBLIC COMMENTS are being accepted during this review and may be submitted by emailing and You may also reach them by phone at 360-825-1631. Emails or letters are preferred to ensure all comments become part of the public record.  You may refer to record permit number 2415960, OR you may reference the Erickson Logging parcels formerly owned by the Issaquah Highlands, LLC. The usual comment period is 14 days but we have been advised that the State DNR expects to accept comments thru the end of the 30 day review period, which ends on March 27th. We need your voices! HELP!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Johnson Canyon Trail

This is one of the easiest hikes in the Snow Canyon State park. Its is easily access from the Red Mountain Resort or the parking lot across the street.

From the Resort, take the Inspiration Trail toward the park until it meets with the paved trail along Snow Canyon Road. After passing the Park Welcome sign, look for the Johnson Trail gate on the right side.

The trail is closed March 15 - October 31st

The trail is well marked and maintained - however there is no water/facilities available at the trailhead so come prepared.

The dirt trail is mostly flat, but the trail surface can be bumpy with lava rocks or mixes of sand and sandstone. Tennis shoes are ok for this hike, but watch your footing.

The only intersection on this trail is with the Scoot Cave trail - which looks fairly unused.

Continue on the main trail toward the Canyon.

There was water running at the time we visited in late January with the sounds of small frogs crocking.

After passing over the small creek, you will see a fenced trail barrier. Be sure to look up at this point to find the large freestanding Arch spanning 200 feet above the fence. A number of folks who did this hike completely missed the Arch, since its not obvious unless you are looking for it.

You can continue on the trail through the rest of the canyon or just turn around and head back to the way you came.

Johnson Canyon Trail at EveryTrail

EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking near Washington, Utah

Area - Snow Canyon State Park (near St. George Utah)
Trails - Johnson Canyon Trail (see map)
Length - Easy 2 miles roundtrip
Duration: 60 mins ~ 90 hours (round-trip)
Trail - Mix of Sand, Dirt, Sandstone trail surface
Bikes - No bikes allowed
View - Canyon views
Getting There - Snow Canyon Road from Ivins or Highway 18 from St George. Look for the parking lot on the left before the pay station booth.
Fee- $6 per car - but trailhead is before the pay station.
Weather - Very Sunny