“An easy loop curving around a shallow ravine.
— Brendan Ross
Deer hunting in the main portion of Island Center Forest is permitted for a short period, typically in the second half of October. During this time, the trails are closed to non-hunters. Signs will be placed at trailheads, but if visiting during this period, it's a good idea to check King County's website at kingcounty.gov/services/par…
. The Natural and Gateway Areas, east of Landtrust Trail
, remain open.
Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Spring
Island Center Forest's routes are mostly flat and smooth. Road or trail shoes work fine on these easy trails. Expect to share them with other hikers, runners, cyclists, and horseback riders. Take note that there are several singletracks branching off the established trail system and leading to local residents' backyards.
Dogs are not permitted in the Mukai or Meadowlake Pond areas but are allowed throughout the rest of the trail. They are required to remain "either leashed or under strict sight and voice control," according to local regulations.
Generally, visitors should elect to use the 188th Street Trailhead, as it has the most parking. Paper maps are available here and at the Mukai and Cemetery Trailheads.
Wandering around the far southwest corner of Island Center, Craig's Trail is named for one of the trail network's most frequent volunteers, who can sometimes be seen riding a mule named Jethro along its byways.
The western end of the trail starts at the signed junction with Dump Run
and Jack's Trail
. Head south along the dirt singletrack, which, like other area trails, is well-maintained and only has a few minor bumps to contend with. The easy route, paralleling the fence of the Transfer Station to the right, moves quickly and doesn't require much thought.
As Craig's reaches the southwest corner and turns left, it comes across some muddy, rooty segments. Steer around the obstacles on an easy, gradual descent, widening out to doubletrack. The path soon comes to a ravine thick with trees. Keep left, as there are a few obscure singletracks leading to the backyards of housing to the south. The path will pass over a tiny creek near the one-third mile point and begin a circle back to the north.
Craig's passes an unmarked intersection with Mike's Corner
along the way, which is almost identical in nature. The trail ends a few hundred feet later at Grinder
Originally a state-owned area logged to provide revenue for Washington's education system, Island Center Forest was passed to King County Parks in 2002 as a model for sustainable forest management. Owing to its history, the area exhibits a mix of both old growth and restoration areas. Many local tree species grow here, including enormous firs and one of the Island's largest areas of quaking aspens.
Animal life includes smaller woodland creatures and deer, but the biggest draw to Island Forest is the wide variety of birds, more than eighty species in all. The wetland areas around Mukai and Meadowlake Ponds draw bird watchers from around the region.