It seems like forever ago that I was conditioning for Mt. St. Helens with challenging hikes in the greater Seattle area. After Mount Townsend, the next one on my list was West Tiger 3 near Issaquah.
About 20 miles east of Seattle, Issaquah has miles and miles of trails in the Tiger Mountain/Cougar Mountain areas, with options of length and steepness aplenty. West Tiger 3 averages a little more than 400 feet gained per mile, and is super close to the city, so it seemed a good choice on a Sunday morning. We pulled up to the lot, which still had plenty of places left, and immediately near the parking area were tons of signs with directions and information.
WTA had warned us this hike could be crowded, as tons of other people use it for conditioning as well as people just taking a walk in the park. Luckily, the trail starts on an old railroad grade, so it’s wide enough to pass others easily. There are tons of intertwining trails, but we found signage to be very good, and we weren’t confused at all. It did help that many people on the trail were laden down with heavy large packs in preparation for summitting something more grand, cluing us in we were in the right place. Admittedly, there isn’t a ton to say about the first couple miles–this is a hike done for the sake of doing, not for what’s on the trail.
A little after mile 2, there was a fork where we turned left and started to climb a bit more. I heard huffing and puffing and saw we were crossing the infamous Cable Line trail, that essentially starts and ends in the same location as we used, but is closer to 3 miles RT than 5–aka way steeper! It was on my list for the coming weeks, and it was very intimidating to see it up close. We left the junction to swing wide along the mountainside, with some stairs to remind us, yet again, that we were In Training. Given the cloudy weather, we were totally not expecting a view (0-2, including Mount Townsend). However, we were still pretty underwhelmed by the top. On a clear day, you can see a bit of Mercer Island and Lake Washington, but not today.
The hike back down was fairly uneventful, with some of the steeper parts feeling tricky due to loose gravel feeling like marbles under us. The hike felt very businesslike with the lack of a proper view or interesting trail, and with us racing up the mountain for good cardio. It was no bucket list hike, for certain. However, for a lazy Sunday morning in need of a conditioning hike, West Tiger 3 was just the ticket.
Distance: 5.0 miles according to WTA (my GPS said 5.4 RT)
Elevation: 2100 feet of gain
Parking: Discover Pass required if you are using the parking lot, but you can park on the road before the gate for free with no pass.
Bathrooms: Water and toilets at trailhead
Best Beer Bet: Rogue Brewing has an Issaquah location mere miles from the trailhead.