The ‘Issaquah Alps” is the unofficial name for the mountainous lands around Issaquah, including Poo Poo Point, Cougar Mountain, Squak Mountain, Tiger Mountain, and Rattlesnake Ledge. There’s miles of trails here, with a little something for everyone!
With so many trails to choose from, as long as you avoid a few higher-profile trails (namely, Rattlesnake and Poo Poo Point), even if the lot you choose is full, there’s a high chance of some solitude. I mapped out a route in advance, but with bringing my pup Schooner along, we had to change directions a couple times to avoid other dogs.
Similar to other urban-ish hikes, this hike offered forested areas, marshy areas, and a former quarry, all in a few miles’ time. There also was a decent mix of (park vehicle only) roads and trails, which was nice as well. Mud was present and thick in spots, but where is it not in March? One of our first notable sites included a beaver dam that separated Coal Creek and Klondike Marsh.
However, what I enjoyed most was the several more marshy spots along the trail, which offered some spooky, mossy trees, seemingly clawing their way out from the ground.
The trail winds upward from here, towards Harvey Manning Trailhead (formerly Anti Aircraft Peak trailhead). Here, there is a short spur to a pergola and picnic tables with a “Million Dollar View” (see above). I don’t know what real estate prices were like in the area when this was named, but think it’s worth a lot more than a million now! Radar Park also has signage and historical information about the former anti-aircraft missiles and radar here. We went downward from here, towards Klondike Marsh and more spooky trees.
We made a bit of a figure-8 here, to try to capture some of the sites I had wanted to see before our canine detour. Notedly, a former clay mine, active until just 2015, and a “mine hazard area” (former shaft or vent?).
There’s so many miles of trails in the Issaquah Alps, I was thrilled to see something new. Admittedly the pandemic ennui/fatigue of staying close to home are really stating to get to me, so finding somewhere new was exciting enough, even if the hike wasn’t to a thrilling vista or mountain lake. I know there’s still tons of trails in the Issaquah Alps waiting for me, come rain, sleet, or snow!
Distance: The Cougar Mountain area has miles of trails. I planned my route in advance using information from WTA.org and Gaia to not get overwhelmed. We did 5.7 miles.
Elevation: Elevation on these trails can greatly vary, the Anti-Aircraft Peak Loop had about 500 feet of gain.
Parking: No passes required at the Sky Country Trailhead.
Bathrooms: Maps indicate there are bathrooms of some sort at the Harvey Manning Trailhead parking lot.