“A fun forested loop close to the city covering some of the best trails on Cougar Mountain.”
— Kate Wendt
Race - Jun 9, 2018
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Wildlife
Open and usable year round. No special parking passes required.
Cougar Mountain is a local Seattle area trail runner's mecca. Easy access from the city (20-30 min) and surrounding areas, typically ample parking, and well-maintained trails featuring lots of singletrack as well as a few wider fire-road like trails.
This particular loop is almost exclusively on singletrack and is a favorite intermediate loop used by both NW Trail Runs for its Cougar Mountain run series in the summer/fall as well as several local running groups. However, trails are never crowded, providing the great combination of easy access and solitude.
The route includes a combination of some gently rolling singletrack and some gradual to steep ascents and descents. There aren't as many panoramic views on Cougar but the trails are nonetheless beautiful - there are few things more fun than running through singletrack in the forest!
Need to Know
Park at the Sky Country trailhead. Head to downtown Issaquah for a post run beer at Issaquah Brewing or brunch at Jak's Grill.
Muddier in fall and spring but never to the degree that's not runnable. Some trails have more roots so watch your footing.
Start out from the Sky Country trailhead parking lot running towards the path at the south end of the lot. Once on the path, take the first left to get over to Clay Pit Road
, a wide graveled fire road. Continue up Clay Pit road for approximately a half mile, then take the Klondike Swamp Trail
on your left.
Continue on the generally flat Klondike Swamp Trail
for approximately 1 mile until you reach Lost Beagle Trail
on your right. Take Lost Beagle up the hill (the first climb of the run other than the gradual hill on Clay Pit) until you reach the top then continue straight while descending slightly. Continue straight to continue on Anti-Aircraft Ridge Trail
, a fun, rolling, technical singletrack until the trail comes to a T at Cougar Pass Trail
Go left on Cougar Pass Trail
and continue up and to the right until you reach Clay Pit Road
again. There is a nice view out to the left at Clay Pit Rd. - soak it up for a moment then turn right back down Clay Pit road for about 0.1 miles until you see the first trail on your left - Mine Shaft Trail
Take Mine Shaft Trail
and you'll soon see one of the old mine shafts that's now covered by a grate. Continue up the trail which has a slight climb, then descend and continue on Mine Shaft Trail
as it turns into East Fork Trail
When you get to the end of East Fork Trail
, it will come to a T at Fred's Railroad Trail
. Go left on Fred's Railroad Trail
and continue straight as it turns into Shy Bear Trail
. Continue on Shy Bear Trail
until it once again comes to a T - stay to the right and continue onto Long View Peak Trail
, then continue onto Deceiver Trail
. Deceiver will descend then climb up to a T at Shy Bear Trail
. Take a right on Shy Bear Trail
and do your final ascent up back up to Fred's Railroad Trail
Go left on Fred's Railroad Trail
, then take a left when you reach Bypass Trail
. Take Bypass Trail
for about a quarter mile until you turn right to get over to Old Man's Trail
. Go through the horse barriers on Old Man's Trail
, and continue on this trail straight until you get back to the parking lot, or to add a few tenths of a mile to get closer to 8 miles as was done in this loop, take the same connector trail over to Clay Pit Road
that you took in the beginning and take a left on Clay Pit Road
to take this back about a quarter mile to the entrance of the park, where you'll be back to your car.
Flora & Fauna
Mature second growth forests (cedar, birch, pine, etc.), streams and wetlands, many varieties of birds. Supposedly there are bears and cougars but sightings/encounters would be extremely rare.
History & Background
For thousands of years, Native Americans traversed Cougar Mountain to gather wild roots, plants and berries, as well as to hunt game and other animals. Then, when the region began to be settled, miners worked the hills of Cougar Mountain for close to a century, up until the middle of the twentieth century (this route goes by one of the old shafts). Logging operations took place during the 1920s, and there was even some small-scale farming, which helped supply miners, loggers, and their families with fresh produce.
In the 1950s and early 60s, two active Nike missile sites were located within the parks current boundaries, in order to protect the Puget Sound region from potential air attacks. Eventually, these sites were decommissioned, and in the late 1960s, King County took over ownership of the land that would later become Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.