Saturday, June 18, 2011

Squak Mtn - West Access Trail

Hike Route: West Access Trail (from SR 900) => Chybinski Trail => Perimeter Loop Trail => sidetrail to Debbie's View

Late June 2011 Update - A number of blowdowns have been cleared - no more ducking under trees during the hike. The lower trail continues to get overgrown, thanks to our wet winters. Watch out of spikey vines crossing the trail, especially on rainy days when they are weighed down. Still muddy in places as of June (after-hike shoes are a good idea).

Nice hike for those close to Cougar and Squak Mountains. It offers a nice view to the South, but only after climbing over 1300' in elevation and hiking 2.3 miles. The trails are of the usual Issaquah Alps variety -- lots of Maple Vines, Ferns, Mossy trees and almost always plenty of green. Just one or two long distance views until you reach Debbie's View.  A more complete Squak Mtn hike is mentioned on page 84 of the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles.

Access is not the best for this hike: The dirt/muddy parking "spot" is very small (2 cars - maybe) and its not the easiest turn off SR900. If you miss it or just want easier parking just park at the Squak Mountain Connector Trailhead turnoff.

The trail starts right from this parking spot and heads to the left up the Mountain. This is the Northwest side of the Mountain and this whole area can be a bit frosty since it doesnt see much sun except at high-noon during the summer.


The West Access trail doesnt seem to see much traffic, the old logging road is wide but the trail on the road can be narrow in parts. There are some large drain ditches on some parts of the trail, not sure if these were overbuilt or actually needed for real rainy days.


The West Access trail is almost all uphill for about a mile. There are some peek-a-book views of Cougar Mountain and Lake Washington - plus an abandoned old car off the trail (hard to see now in the overgrown brush).


There are a couple feeder creeks along the West Access Trail that head down to Tibbetts Creek. No big creeks to cross, but one very "Northwest" bridge over one of the larger feeder creeks.


The West Access Trail runs into the Coal Mine trail (which heads toward the Mountainside Drive trailhead). Keep to the RIGHT and stay on the West Access Trail. Along this part of the hike, I ran into two raccoons climbing a tree.


Soon after passing the Coal Mine trail intersection, there is an intersection with the Chybinski Loop Trail. Keep the RIGHT on the Chybinski trail. 


The Chybinsky Trail is a much more forgiving trail with more gentle inclines up and around the Mountain. The trail is a bit more narrow, but its still well packed and well maintained. There is a very nice dip into a creek-crossing which breaks up the constant uphill from the previous part of the hike.


This trail also offers some backwards views to the Northeast looking at the Issaquah Highlands area and the Cascades behind them. A blowdown in 2011 has improved the view.

As you continue around the mountain, you pass the Block House off to the left.


At this point the trail opens up a bit and heads slightly downhill toward the three-way intersection with the West Peak and Perimeter Loop trails. Just keep to the RIGHT on the "Loop" trail.


This section of the Loop trail is very easy and meanders a bit through the woods. Its a bit narrow but again well defined and established. Along the Loop trail there is a unmarked sidetrail off to the right.


This sidetrail leads to "Debbie's View" to the South with views of Mt Rainier, Ceder River Area, even West toward the Sound. The view is almost 180 degrees with views of the Cascades to the Southeast. Its a great viewpoint and endpoint after a 1,300 foot elevation gain.


Just return the way you came to reach the West Access Trailhead - keep to the Left at all intersections along the way down.

Not a bad hike for locals in the area - There is a good viewpoint, but otherwise the hike is a bit typical for the area without offering anything really special.

West Access trail - Squak Mountain at EveryTrail

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Area - Cougar-Squak Mtn. Corridor (King Co.) / Squak Mtn. State Park Natural Area
Trails - West Access Trail (from SR 900), Chybinski Trail, Perimeter Loop Trail, sidetrail to Debbie's Viewpoint
Map - Green Trails Map: Cougar / Squak Mountains Map 203S
Length - 4.6 miles out and back - Moderate Hike (about 1,300' Elevation gain)
Trail - Dirt trail on old logging roads
Dogs - On leash
Bikes - No
Views - Some views on Chybinski Loop Trail, Mt Rainier View on sidetrail
Getting There - On SR 900 close to Wilderness Creek Trailhead
Other Trails - Lots
Facilities - None
Fee - No fee - (Donate to the WTA)