Friday, July 25, 2008

Tiger Mountain - Big Tree Loop (kinda)

Date of Hike: July 2008

Hike Route: Swamp Monster Trail > Big Tree Trail > Puget Power Trail > Around the Lake Trail

Note - The Mountain to Sound Greenway is doing work on the Swamp and Big Tree trails. The trails are open, but some parts are under repair. Also - I found the Big Tree and nearby Adventure trail somewhat overgrown (pictures below). So we decided to deviate from the traditional hike and follow the Puget Power Trail/Road to the Around the lake trail.

There are some missing/mis-placed signs along the end of the Swamp trail -- be sure to carry a map.

I found this hike in this book: Take a Hike Seattle: Hikes Within Two Hours of the City on Page 56.

I was looking for an easy hike to take with an out of town guest. The hike is very easy and really shows off the lower area of the Tiger Mountain Park. On weekends the parking lot is full, so folks park along the park entrance and walk into the park.

While I would grade this hike as "easy" -- it does have some rough bits and is over 2 miles long.

The Hike starts off near the entrance to the parking lot -- there are warning signs about the trailwork underway.

The swamp trail is a very gentle well maintained trail. Its fairly wide and they have started to install interpretive signs along the way.

You do hear the roar of I-90 on this trail, but soon it just becomes background noise as the trail gets deeper into the forest.

Upon meeting the Big Tree Trail, the trail conditions become less consistent. There are patches of very overgrown vegetation but then open clear sections. As the book points out, the route gets a bit confusing at this point, so be sure to take a map.

You really can't get lost since its not a large area -- but its easy to miss a turn and wide up with a much longer or shorter hike by mistake.

This part of the trail below looks worse than it is, but it demonstrates how overgrown the trail becomes for small parts of the route.

The Big Tree trail intersects with a second wide powerline road and the it appears that its closed at this point. But thats not the case -- you need to turn LEFT (head up the hill) and find the new and improved entrance to the final stage of the Big Tree Trail.

The new Big Tree Trail entrance..

The Trail here has been improved and in a much better location that the original closed trail.

Soon the trail passes the "Big Tree" with a great interpetive sign giving its history.

The Big Tree Trail ends at the Brink Trail (turn LEFT). After a short while, the Brink Trail comes to the intersection of the Adventure Trail, Puget Power and access to the Wetland Trail.

The Book's route is the Wetlands Trail to go around Round Lake and finish on the Bus Trail. However, the Wetlands trail was totally overgrown on the day of our hike.

We altered the route to simply return via Puget Power Trail (its really a dirt road). This is the only steep-ish uphill part of the hike. Its a short uphill -- otherwise all of the hike is basically flat.

From the Puget Power Trail, there are a couple places to rejoin the Wetlands trail, but we decided to take the Around the Lake Trail as the final leg.

The Around the lake trail goes around the southern side of Tradition Lake. Its a VERY well maintained and popular trail. The Views of the lake are fairly limited, since the trail is setback away from the lake to protect the lake and its wildlife. There are a couple viewing platforms along the way -- but dont expect wideopen views of the lake. All views are through the trees and set-back at least 50 feet.

This hike is not really "ready for primetime" just yet - the trail work still needs to be completed, signage is missing and parts of the route are very overgrown. However, it is a fairly flat enjoyable hike for anyone not wishing much elevation challenges.

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Area - Tiger Mountain (Near Issaquah,Washington)
Trails - Green Trails map: Tiger Mountain 204S
Elevation - Gain of 100 feet
Length - 2 miles loop
Trail - Dirt trail, somewhat overgrown in places. Trailwork underway on parts of the route.
Bikes - Not allowed on this hike
View - A couple along the way: Tradition Lake, Big Tree
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.