I ended up with a few unanticipated days off in early January and on one of those days I hiked up onr of the trails up Tiger Mountain. One of my favorite bicycle routes passes this trail which heads up to Poo Poo Point where hang gliders launch off on windy summer days and I’ve wanted to tackle it for a while. Tiger Mountain, in the so-called Issaquah Alps, is close to Seattle and thus often quite crowded with day hikers which is why I’ve done almost no hiking in this area. Thus a nice mid-week January day seemed the best chance to finally make my way up the summit. There are several main routes up Tiger Mountain which has six peaks though they seem to mainly have similar views. I was taking the Chirico Trail which is not the longest route but one of the steeper making its 1700′ elevation gain in two miles. There is parking right at the trailhead which features a broad grassy field where the hang gliders and paragliders land. Once in the woods the trail begins a series of switchbacks almost immediately.
It had rained just a few days ago, but on this day the trail was almost entirely dry and being such a popular trail was well maintained. It is rocky at times and there are places where you are climbing basically stairs of rock. Being midday on a Tuesday in early January there weren’t the crowds that you can see on a nice summer day. I still encountered people though, mostly coming down but there was a few joining me on the ascent. The people that were out seemed to be mostly walking dogs, mostly off leash. I’m not a dog person and I admit that I can be nervous around them, so I am never happy to see off leash animals. On this day the dogs were all well behaved and there was no issues. Still on narrow, steep trails I think people should keep their dogs well heeled. Anyway I kept a steady pace, enjoying this easy path through the woods and definitely feeling the lack of exercise I’d had over the last couple of months. The path is switchbacks for a good ways and then flattens out a little bit as you cross a stream. The woods begin to thin a bit after that though the switchbacks come back. Finally you reach an open meadow facing to the east. There’s a put toilet from here and a nice view over the valley and toward the Cascades. From there its a short jaunt up to Poo Poo Point where the hang/paragliders launch.
The view is about 180 degrees from the NorthEast to the SouthWest. Toward the North is Issaquah and behind it Lake Sammamish (as can be seen in the above picture). Looking to the Eorth-East you can see the Cascades with several visible snowy peaks including Mount Baker way in the distance (the top photo shows one of the peaks in this direction). To the West is Squak Mountain and to the SouthWest you looking down the valley toward South King County. A nice view. This day was partially cloudy with a good breeze. There was some serious creaking trees as I did the last third of the climb. I was alone as a reached the summit though a man and his dog joined me a few minutes later. It had taken me about an hour to do the two mile climb up and I spent about half an hour at the summit. I’d started sort of late so as I set off back down the trail the gloaming began to deepen. But even as the daylight was fading there were still people heading up the trail. Up to more then even half way down I encountered people making the climb. Not too many though, all told I’d say I saw about a dozen other hikers in the few hours I was on the mountain. I made slightly better time on the descent and arrived back at my car in pretty deep twilight. All told it took me less then 2.5 hours to do the 4 mile roundtrip hike with as I said above a 1700′ elevation gain. A nice jaunt early in the season, hopefully just the beginning in a more active hiking year. Check out all of my posted pictures from this trip in my Tiger Mountain Set.