Jul 27, 2008

Rattlesnake Ledge

Once again I picked a terrible weather day for a hike. Although I did find four geocaches, I was treated to clouds, clouds, and more clouds on each of the three ledges up on Rattlesnake Ledge, the southeast end of Rattlesnake Mountain. And plenty of rain to boot. Only in the Pacific Northwest can I have two layers of clothes on in late July and be underdressed.

This is still one of my favorite hikes. The trail is in excellent shape, it is steep and short (which I prefer), and the first ledge has plenty of space for all no matter how busy it is. Not many people head up to the other ledges, which I like even better (I hike for the solitude).

No pictures today due to the weather. Despite the weather the trail was plenty busy, even for an early morning hike. I can't imagine how busy this trail is these days when the weather cooperates!

Jul 20, 2008

Tiger Mountain: West Tiger 3 Summit

The family decided to use this beautiful, cloudless, mid-70 degree day to take on the West Tiger 3 trail of Tiger Mountain. Tiger Mountain has several access points, the most popular being the High Point Trailhead off Exit 20 of I-90. This provides access to the excellently maintained, level, Tradition Lake loop, a wonderful hiking area for toddlers, little kids, and those that just aren't in the mood for hiking up mountains.

Technically this area is part of the Issaquah Alps and not the Snoqualmie Valley, but its close enough to be covered here :)

The same area provides access to both the Tiger Mountain Trail, a 16 mile hike across the full of Tiger Mountain, and the West Tiger 3 trail, which, as the name implies, takes you to the summit of West Tiger 3 - the westernmost and lowest of the three West Tiger Mountain peaks.

West Tiger 3 seems like an old trail, hard-packed, mostly dirt with some embedded rocks for good measure. The trail runs for three miles with an elevation gain of 1900 feet, and drops the hiker into a nice clearing with clear views of Mount Si and the northern Snoqualmie Valley, Mount Rainier, Seattle, Lake Washington, and the Olympics. On this day the haze prevented good views of Seattle and the Olympics, but we did catch the many hang-gliders and para-gliders making their way off Tiger Mountain.

The dirt and fresh rock that's been sprinkled on the trail actually make this a little more difficult than the average groomed trail. Our kids had trouble slipping on the way down, to the point where we slowed it down considerably and ended up carrying our three year old.

The trail was plenty busy today, and we did this hike in the afternoon. Took us 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to the top, and 90 minutes to make it back down. The steepness of the trail sure made it seem longer.

No good views of anything along the way; however, Tiger Mountain does have a pretty extensive trail system, so you can take multiple ways exploring the area and multiple ways to get to the West Tiger 3 summit.

Mount Rainer from West Tiger 3 Summit

Mount Si from West Tiger 3 Summit

Jul 13, 2008

Asahel Curtis Nature Trail and Picnic Area

Take Exit 47 off I-90 and follow the signs to the Asahel Curtis Picnic Area. Despite the proximity to I-90, the area is nestled next to the Snoqualmie River and sits under lush Evergreens. The picnic area makes an excellent respite from civilization, and there is a nice, short nature trail that starts at the picnic area, wanders through several streams, runs along the Snoqualmie River, and bypasses several large, interesting trees. It even runs back under I-90.

My kids love this area and eagerly take on the trail, which goes out about a third of a mile before ending at the Asahel Curtis Nature Area.

Mount Si

Ah, le creme de le creme of where the Snoqualmie Valley splits the Cascade Mountains - Mount Si. Unfortunately, I chose a cloudy day to climb this.

Take Exit 32 off I-90, go north, and hang a left on North Bend Way. About a half a mile you will run into Mount Si Blvd - hang a right and you are on your way. In a couple miles you will spot the trailhead, probably the biggest one in Snoqualmie Valley. On any given day you will encounter countless hikers, if you can find parking at all.

From the trailhead you will have a four mile, 3000 foot elevation gain to the top side of Mount Si. Not a lot of views on the way up - the views are left to those that make the peak. Not that I got to see any on the day I went (the 4th of July), hence no pictures.

The trail is well groomed, always a steady elevation gain, and finishes rather quickly (just four miles long). At the top, there are plenty of rocks for exploring and obtaining unique and great views of Rainier, Seattle, the Olympics, and the Snoqualmie Valley. Those more adventurous can climb "the haystack" - that pointy thing-a-ma-jig that you see from below that makes Mount Si distinguishable from other Cascade Mountains. It's another 250 feet up that, with no trail. Warning signs greet you. I chose not to give it a try, instead I am going to wait until there are views worthy of the ascent. Surely an incentive to come back!

The trail is kid friendly if the kids have the endurance - no crazy rock climbs, stream crossings, etc.