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Easy/Moderate Hike - Wilderness Peak - Cougar Mountain

Traction devices for your feet are MANDATORY on this hike. You must bring along Yak Trax or something similar to put on your feet in the event that we encounter snowy, icy conditions.

NO Children under the age of 16.

Please read all the info I have in the Pages section of this site and come prepared. You are responsible for your own safety , but your preparedness affects the entire group.

Please be aware that at this time of year, especially, that inclement weather, dangerous road conditions and illness may cancel or postpone this event. Please be sure to check this site before leaving to attend for any last minute updates.

Wilderness Peak (#COUGAR-E4)
Issaquah Alps -- Cougar Mountain
King County Parks
If your definition of wilderness includes remote wildlands untouched by the hands of man, this is a misnamed peak. But if you can accept that wilderness includes lands returned to a state of wildness, you'll love this simple little Cougar Mountain hike in a natural wonderland that's just minutes from an urban jungle. Though the trail is usually hikeable year-round (snowfall is scarce at this elevation), the route is best enjoyed in the fall through spring because mosquitoes buzz here in great numbers during the summer.

The Wilderness Creek Trail crosses a sturdy, picturesque bridge over the pretty creek before climbing immediately up a series of switchbacks to lead you up and out of the creek canyon. The creek itself can be seen frequently from the trail as it tumbles down the steep draw, rushing over rocks and dropping over small falls. At around 0.5 mile you'll reach a trail fork.

To the right is the path you'll return on. For now, go left and you'll soon recross the creek and continue up the creek valley. Here, the forest boasts stands of maple, cottonwood, alder, and fir. This mixed forest allows great light penetration to the forest floor, which makes the moisture-rich creek valley an emerald basin of mosses and ferns that seem to cover every surface. From huge boulders to old, rotting logs, greenery grows everywhere. This rich world of green can be a wonderful place to escape the heat of summer. But for our purposes it's simply a grand landscape to enjoy while hiking on to greater adventures.

Continue up the trail as it veers up the lower slopes of nearby Ring Road Peak (not-so-creatively named for the old road that circled 'round the peak to its top). At the next trail junction stay right to recross the creek again, and then move onto a long section of boardwalk trail that keeps you above the murk on Big Bottom Bog. The forest here is largely very old second growth and even some native deciduous stands.

After crossing the boggy bottomlands at the upper end of the creek valley, the trail starts up the flank of Wilderness Peak. You'll find yourself among majestic old Douglas-firs in a forest largely untouched by man--only a few old stumps reveal the hand of hard-working independent loggers (gypos) who harvested single trees. Look closely and you'll see the notches cut for the sawyers' springboards--long planks stuck into the axe-hewn notches so the loggers could stand and saw through the tree trunk above the wide spread at root level.

From I-90 take exit 15 onto Newcastle Way (State Route 900). Drive south about 2.5 miles to the Wilderness Creek trailhead.

Statistics
Roundtrip 4.0 miles Elevation Gain 1200 ft Highest Point 1600 ft
Features
Rivers
Old growth
User info
Dogs allowed on leash

Dogs are required to be leashed on this hike (no retractible leashes or leashes longer than 6 ft). If you decide you want to unleash your dog, it must be under voice control, stay on the trail, and away from leashed dogs. Give your self and dog adequate space from others. Please respect other hikers on the trail and restrain your dog when approaching or being approached by others. This will be the first meeting for many of the dogs, so let them get acquainted slowly as we walk. It takes time to form a pack. Not all dogs want to be greeted exuberantly, so take care and precaution. Also, dog waste needs to be buried (6 inches) or carried. Leaving along the trail to be picked up later is an eyesore for others , even in a bag,(especially with the number in our group) and is sometimes forgotten on the way out.

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  • Andrea

    I agree Kathy. Thanks for organizing the hike. Huck and I really enjoyed it.

    January 13, 2013

  • Kathy L.

    Beautiful morning to be outside breathing the fresh air, rather than being stuck inside watching football. Who eats nachos in the morning anyways. Glad to have some company with me, otherwise the trail was pretty quiet.

    January 13, 2013

  • Kathy L.

    I am going to be requiring that anybody attending mountain hikes where we are gaining elevation to bring along traction devices (Yak 'Trax, microspikes or the like). You never know where the ice and snow level may start and these will help prevent slips and falls.
    I purchased some a couple of years ago from Bartells for under $10 and then last year picked up a 2 pack from Costco for under $15. They are inexpensive, light and clip easily to backpacks.

    December 31, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Ah, never mind I guess. It won't let us sign up b/c when I add the guest it says too many...

    December 30, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    So this sounds like something I would like to do with my son dog but her haven't actually done any hiking since we moved here. Should we wear rain boot or hiking boots. What other stuff should I consider for this hike? I used to hike a lot many years ago, but haven't done it for a long time & never w/ my son...

    December 30, 2012

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