Convenient Cougar Mountain

Cougar Mountain

Cougar Mountain Wilderness Peak Loop

The Cougar Mountain - Wilderness Peak Loop Trail is ideal for many reasons. If you're short on time, it's only four miles round-trip. If you're out of shape, it's only a 1,200 foot elevation gain. If you don't feel like a long drive, it's less than 20 miles from downtown Seattle. If you want a taste of wilderness without massive crowds, you have a chance at that! Most opt for the nearby Tiger Mountain trails, Squak Mountain and the Red Town trailhead. That leaves this Cougar Mountain trail somewhat, luckily, overlooked!

Immediately upon setting out from the trailhead you enter wilderness. It doesn't take but a couple of minutes to forget that the big city is a mere 20 miles away. You'll cross several small, wood bridges as you cross over the creek, numerous times, that wanders by your side much of the way up.

As your climb continues, you'll no doubt notice many of the Douglas Firs are large. Amazingly, much of this area has never been logged. The downed trees are usually mother nature's doing. The trail contains many switch-backs, making it an easier climb. About a half-mile in, you'll come to the fork in the trail. You'll be turning left, as you'll be looping your way back down...coming back out of the trail you see to your right. You'll enjoy a lot of greenery, even in the first few months of the year. The firs are tall and the other trees and large boulders are covered with bright green moss. In the fall, this trail will also come alive with color from the Maples, Cottonwood and Alders that are also part of the dense forest.

You'll notice the trail clips an old road that used to circle the mountain and you'll want to keep right at another junction, and cross the creek once again. As you continue climbing, you'll cross Sky Bear Pass noting you're at 1300 feet, with 300 feet in elevation to go over the final half mile. You'll go by the Far Country Lookout, and at this junction, again you'll keep right to continue upward to the summit.

Once you reach the summit, you'll quickly realize that you don't have the sweeping views that Tiger has. In fact, there are very few openings to really see where you are...this is a forest hike and that is what helps in keeping this trail quiet and a nice escape from the crowds. From here, you head down. Note, as you hike back, you'll see a Squak Mountain Connector Trail that branches off. You'll need to plan ahead with much extra time for this...and extra water and trail mix...but the option is there.

Cougar Mountain: Quick Points

From I-90, Exit 15, SR 900. Go south 3.3 miles to the Wilderness Creek Trailhead. You'll start this lollipop loop trail at 400 feet and gain 1200 feet in elevation to 1600 feet over the two miles up, four-miles roundtrip. This is a very enjoyable forest hike.

It is likely to be a bit more crowded on weekends than it is during the week because it is so near the city. But even then, the crowds are nothing like you'll encounter when you're hiking the Tiger Mountain Wilderness.

Cougar Mountain
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