Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cougar Mountain - Wilderness Creek to Far Country Lookout

Date of Hike: January 2008

Hike Route: Wilderness Creek Trailhead > Long View Peak Trail > Deceiver Trail > Shy Bear Trail > Far Country Lookout loop > Shy Bear Trail > Wilderness Creek Trail

This hike is similar to other Cougar Mountain hikes, semi-steep start with gentle trails once you reach the top of the park. Winter is a great time to do this hike, since the views are better and spots of snow and ice make for an interesting hike. There is still plenty of "green" on this hike, thanks to moss, ferns and evergreen trees. It also seems like more wildlife is out and about -- maybe they are just more visible since there was less tree cover to hide within.

The Wilderness Creek Trailhead is off SR900 between Renton and Issaquah. There is parking for about 10 cars. The hike starts off going uphill for almost all of the 1.5 mile length of this trail. Along the way are some well-constructed log bridges and walkways.

At the end of Wilderness Creek Trail, there is a right turn onto the Long View Peak trail which has a log walkway above the marsh area.

Long View Peak offers a small lookout spot. It looks out onto Renton and the Southcenter area. You can also see planes landing at Sea-Tac airport in the distance.

Doughty Falls is also close by and nice diversion if there has been recent rains. Its not a true waterfall, but its a nice break on the way. The trail was semi-covered by ferns but its easy to find and you cant miss the "falls"

Unlike the summer months, the sun shines through very brightly on to most of the trails including the Deceiver and Shy Bear trails.

After about 4 miles, you reach the Far Country Lookout trail.

After a short walk, you will reach a small bench on the Far Country Trail where you can view the "lookout".

I didnt want to spoil the view, but if you really want to see it you can view it here

On the way back, I took the full Shy Bear trail back to the Wilderness Creek Trail. Its a little less Up and Down and also has some very cool log walks above the year-round Shy Bear Marsh.

A nice long hike with a couple things to see on a very well maintained trail system.

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Area - Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park (Near Issaquah,Washington)
Trails - (Trail Map)
Length - 8 miles out and back - Easy Hike (moderate uphill on first 1.5 miles)
Trail - Loop, dirt trail, limited stops along the way. Well marked and maintained.
Bikes - Not allowed on this hike
View - Just two -- and only on a clear winter day
Getting There - Google Map
Fee- None, free parking
Weather - Cold in the mornings with some ice and snow during the winter.
Other Trails - tons! Including this hike: Cougar Mtn - SR900 to Mine Shaft