Squak Mountain─Wedged between a Tiger and a Cougar

A happy hiker enjoys winter solitude on Squak Mountain

A happy hiker enjoys winter solitude on Squak Mountain

Quick Facts

Location: Issaquah Alps

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 8.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,900 feet

Green Trails Map: Cougar Mountain/ Squak Mountain No. 203S

Contact: Washington State Parks www.parks.wa.gov or Mountains to Sound Greenway www.mtsgreenway.org

Notes: Dogs must be leashed.

Access: From Seattle follow I-90 east to Issaquah taking Exit 17. Turn right (south) onto Front Street and proceed .8 mile turning left onto SE Bush Street (two blocks south of Sunset Way intersection). Continue for two blocks to the “little yellow house,” and parking.

The least visited of the Issaquah Alps; Squak Mountain offers lonely roaming and the neat opportunity to take a hike right from town. No car? No problem—take a bus to the trailhead! While Squak’s summit is marred by an assortment of communications towers, the mountain’s mature forests, quiet ravines, and excellent trail system are this hike’s real draw. And while nearby Cougar Mountain is being overrun by trail runners and Tiger Mountain is being trampled by everyone and their mothers—Squak offers miles of crowd free exploring.

There are several trails accessing this mountain. This hike is a nice suggestion right from Issaquah. Start from the “little yellow house,” headquarters of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club (which is responsible for much of the public land surrounding this sprawling suburb); and walk west on Bush Street for two blocks to Front Street.

Then Walk one block south, heading west onto Newport Way crossing Issaquah Creek. At .25 mile, turn left (south) onto Wildwood Blvd and immediately come to the Squak Mountain Access Trail. Follow alongside Issaquah Creek coming to a small dam at .6 mile. Then continue through some housing complexes following signs for the “Squak Mountain Access Trail.”

At 1.0 mile cross Sunrise Place and leave the urban landscape behind. Begin traversing forested slopes and gradually ascend. Cross Waterfall Creek and at 1.9 miles reach a junction where you’ll want to bear right onto the East Ridge Trail. Soon afterward cross Crystal Creek; and then climb steeply up a forested rib. At 3.0 miles bear left at a junction and continue climbing enjoying window views of Tiger Mountain to the east.

At 3.6 miles turn right onto Phils Creek Trail. And shortly afterwards turn left onto the Summit Trail, reaching a service road after a steep .3 mile. The Turn right onto a gravel road and reach the towered 2,024-foot summit in 0.1 mile. The views aren’t much, but the forest, trails and solitude are!

And as far as Squak’s unique name; the late great trail advocate Ruth Ittner once told me; “If you were stuck between a tiger and cougar, you’d squawk too!” Actually the name means snake (which also makes many a hiker squawk) from a local native dialect and was the original name of the city of Issaquah.

Squak Mountain is one of 50 snow-free winter hikes in my new Winter Hikes of Western Washington Card Deck. Check it out!

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