Where’s Sara? Tiger Mountain — A Grrrrreat Place to Explore

Photo courtesy of Sara Graham

Trying to find a hike these days where not too many people are going takes some extra time and creativity. I didn’t want to drive far but wanted to hike a ‘mountain,’ so I decided to explore a little more Tiger Mountain in Issaquah. It is the closest mountain, only a 30-minute drive from Woodinville.

There are over 70 miles of trails with three summits waiting to explore.

I have hiked Poo Poo Point many times, and done West Tiger Summit 3 and the Chirico Trail too. Everyone should know about these popular tourist trails on Tiger Mountain. But this time, I wanted to find something new.

So, I took out my Tiger Mountain Green Trails Map (I highly recommend you buy one if you don’t have one at greentrailsmaps.com) and felt like a pirate looking for treasure as I laid it on the kitchen table to carefully examine the trails.

I located Tiger Summit 1, 2 and 3 and then noticed in minuscule letters "Hikers Hut" next to Tiger Summit 1. AHA, “X” marks the spot — something new waiting to be explored. I hadn’t hiked summit 1 and 2, so I planned my adventure and set out to achieve all three summits and find the elusive Hikers Hut.

I chose the next sunny day and lucked out finding a parking place in the Tiger Mountain lot located off I-90 at Exit 19 for the Highpoint Trailhead. It can get crowded on the weekend so plan accordingly—you will need a Discover Pass.

I started down the well-trod West Summit 3 trail that everybody follows. I carefully checked my map and immediately detoured left onto the TMT trail, one I have never been on. In a half-mile, I chose to go right up the steep cable line trail to Tiger Summit 3. I only saw two people along the way. Once on top, I checked out the view then traversed over the top to Summit 2. There is only one trail leading there so you cannot get lost.

I took a quick break and enjoyed the company of the robber jays who attempted to steal Chex mix out of the palm of my hand. I was now in new territory and was glad to have my map to help me navigate my way.

I followed an old logging road up to Summit 1 and came to a “Y” and I veered left up a very steep but short gravel section. I was pleasantly surprised as I rounded the bend when Mount Rainier appeared out of nowhere. It was in full view! I got excited as I neared the top, and as the road leveled out, I looked up and there tucked in the trees was the Hikers Hut. It looked like a space capsule. Mission accomplished!

Inside the hut was an array of emergency hiking gear. A safe haven in any Northwest storm. A single stone bench near the hut faces Mount Rainier; a perfect place to soak in the spectacular views.

I returned to the base parking lot via the TMT and K3 trails having hiked a total of 6.5 miles and almost 3,000 feet of elevation. There are so many ways to hike and explore on Tiger Mountain. I encourage you to check out the map and create your adventure. I guarantee it will be Grrrrreat! For more adventure ideas visit Trailcrossings.com.

Sara Graham is a long-time Woodinville Weekly columnist and an outdoor enthusiast.

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