Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cougar Mtn - Squak Connector

Note: The new edition of the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park Map is now available

This is a good winter hike when snow has closed most of the hikes in the I-90 corridor. Parking is limited, but usually available even when the Wilderness Creek trailhead is overflowing. Although the first trail is named the Squak Connector, the hike is solely on Cougar Mountain.

The Cougar Mountain-Squak Mountain corridor trailhead has been been expanded a bit, adding space for about 2 more cars. The trailhead is right on SR900 next to the Pacific Topsoil yard.

The hike starts off going uphill right from the trailhead. There is a short trail off to the left leading to the nearby rock climbing area. Follow the very wide trail up the hill. This trail doesnt see much traffic unlike other Cougar Mountain trails - sometimes the trail is covered by leaves or debris, so watch your  footing.

After the uphill climb, the trail flattens out and becomes a bit narrow. The old abandoned car is gone, so the trail has been restored to a nice peaceful route.

After about 0.7 miles watch for the intersection with the Wilderness Cliffs trail, keep to the right here and continue uphill. For the next mile, the trip is pretty much an uphill climb -- but there is a nice viewpoint about midway up and generally less crowds on this narrow trail.

Not much of a view today at the viewpoint to the left, but sometimes the views are very nice -- usually on cold, clear winter days.

After passing the small pond (only really visible during the winter months), you will reach the  intersection with the Wilderness Peak trail. A very short trip to the right will lead to the Wilderness Peak", this is a dead end peak but there is no view.  Otherwise just continue to the left on the main trail.

The Wilderness Peak trail is mostly a downhill trip from here to the Shy Bear pass area. Continue straight through this junction area, but look for the left turn on to the Wilderness Creek trail. This trail is a bit more interesting with huge boulders, marsh walkways and multiple creeks to cross. There are occational uphills, but its mostly downhill to the intersection with the Wilderness Cliffs trail.

Keep to the left on the Wilderness Cliffs trail to quickly meet up with the downhill Squak Mtn Connector trail. Return down the Squak Mtn Connector trail to the trailhead.

Total round-trip is 3.9 miles, but it might feel like more during the winter as slippery conditions (mostly leaves and mud spots) keep your pace slower at some points. A very nice hike and great showcase of the Southeast part of Cougar Mountain. Plus its a bit less crowded than starting from the Wilderness Creek Trailhead. 

Area - Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park (Near Issaquah,Washington)
Trails - Sqauk Mtn. Connector, Wilderness Cliffs/Peak/Creek Trails,  (Trail Map)
Length - 3.9 miles roundtrip - Easy Hike (uphill, but easy)
Duration: 1 hour, 42 minutes, 31 seconds
Vertical up: 1076.2 ft
Vertical down: 923.8 ft
Trail - Loop, dirt trail, limited stops along the way. Well marked and maintained.
Bikes - Not allowed on this hike
View - One viewpoint on the Wilderness Cliffs trail
Getting There - Google Map
Fee- None, free parking
Weather - All Shade, can be wet if there have been recent rains
Other Trails - tons - bring a map.

Cougar Mt-Squak Mt Corridor at EveryTrail
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