Trail Route: follow West Tiger Mountain #3 trail to the summit
Most guide books, including my favorite, do a good job of warning this is a very popular trail. I did a drive by on a early March weekend and saw cars overflowing the parking lot all the way back to the freeway -- so I decided to do this hike on a weekday.
I thought a Tuesday morning would be a good time...but found I was not alone. There were about 12 cars in the parking lot at 9:30am and I must of passed at least 20 people (half with dogs) on the hike. Everyone was friendly -- but this was not a un-crowded hike.
That being said -- this trail has a real payoff, unlike most of Cougar and Squak hikes. So I think it was well worth it -- however, I am not sure I would do this hike on the weekend. This was my first hike on Tiger, so I was a bit concerned about finding the trail without a map. But this basic hike is well marked and unlike Cougar, there really aren't that many inter-connecting trails.
Just follow the "west tiger #3" trail signs out of the parking lot and the lower level.
Once you pass through a bike barrier, you are on the main trail. For the first mile, its a real uphill grind. The trail is fairly wide and basically a dual trail width for 90% of the hike. The trail is one of the best maintained I have seen recently. Since its so popular, its easy to understand why the trail is so established and well worn. During this time of the year, there were a couple of filter views of Issaquah and Lake Sammamish in the distance.
There are about three junctions along the way. They are all well marked, but if in doubt -- just follow the widest uphill trail.
After the first mile, the trail mellows out and becomes much more enjoyable. At the point pictured below, you have basically passed the steepest part and have a easier hike to the summit.
One interesting part is the intersection of the Cable Line trail, it follows the main trail up to the summit. Some maps show this as a trail -- and it looks like a very confusing intersecting trail option. BUT this is not a real trail and is full of rocks -- plus its not even an a real good option to the summit.
After passing the Cable Line, the snow became more appearent on the trail. I was lucky and it had snowed earlier and lots of hikers had already made tracks on the snow to show the route to the summit. From this point to the top, the hike gets a bit steep and narrow, but you are so close to the top its easy to push through it! (Dont let your friends quit at this point)
Right before you reach the top, there is a fantastic open view to the East. The trail is very narrow and has a steep falloff at this point.
After a couple more steep bits, you reach the top of Tiger Mountain 3 with a Summit of 2522 feet.
The day I did this hike, it was very cloudy so there was no fantastic view...but it still was a great summit with a real clearing so you can take a break and enjoy being at the top.
I was thinking about going on to Tiger Mtn #2, but the snow covered over the trail at this point and I wasnt sure where the trail headed. In any case, I turned around and headed back down.
On the way back, I took some time to enjoy some of the sounds of the mountain. There were lots of birds and creeks running sounds on the lower half of the mountain.
If it wasnt for the crowds (even on a Tuesday!) it would be my favorite hike.
One warning - the summit is at 2520 feet, so it will be snowing if the forecast calls for "snow in the foothills".
Current trail condition: Mostly dry, some mud patches at midway, and snow on the trail near (and at) the Summit. Hiking boots were ok.
Crowded, but enjoyable hike with well maintained trails. Lots of dogs (not sure why) and parking can be an issue on busy weekends. The route is well marked and easy to find, although I would always travel with a map (Green Trails: Tiger Mountain 204S) or a good local guide book, like this one. The summit has a great view, its a bit of a steep haul but dont quit -- its well worth it. Views of Seattle, Tiger Mtn 2, and Mount Rainier from the summit. Filtered views along the way during the winter.
No fee and free parking lot -- if primary lot is full, you can park on the paved road before the white gate and walk in.
Great hike, but I would do it on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
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Area - Tiger Mountain (Near Issaquah,Washington)
Trails - Green Trails map: Tiger Mountain 204S
Elevation - Gain of 2,000 feet - start at 480 ft to top of 2,522 ft
Length - 5 miles out and back - 2.5 hours moderate uphill
Trail - Wide dirt trail, limited stops along the way. Well marked and maintained.
Bikes - Not allowed on this hike
View - A couple along the way, with a BIG view at the top
Getting There - Take I-90 to Exit 20. The Entrance is on the south-side of the freeway.
Fee- None, free parking
Other Trails - Many, all main trails are well marked.