What would you do if you were stuck between a Cougar and a Tiger?
A little joke that gets tossed around in the outdoor world as an answer for why Squak Mountain has such a name since it is situated between Cougar Mountain (to the West), and Tiger Mountain (to the East).
I don’t exactly know the real reason for the name–I believe it has to do with the native people of the region–but we did go on a sweet little hike here this past weekend and found our time to be a perfectly pleasant family adventure.
Squak Mountain State Park is just 15 minutes (via I-90) from Seattle, very close to the town of Issaquah in the May Valley. The park is for day use, and hosts hikers as well as equestrians (much to our 3.5 year old’s delight) with about 13 miles of trails on foot and 6 miles of trail on hoof. Since our visit was on a beautifully clear afternoon on Presidents’ Day weekend, the parking lot was full and the trails were busy, but I have a feeling that’s not always the case.
We started off our adventure with a quick lap around the interpretive loop called the Pretzel Tree Trail. The 0.3 mile loop tells the story of a little field mouse who visits the forest for the first time. A series of about 6 placards teaches young hikers (and their companion adults) about the rules of the forest…
-Take out what you bring in (No Littering)
-Leave what you find
-Stay on the marked paths
The trail gets its name from the towering tree, about half-way around the loop, that is made up of two intertwining trunks. Also at almost every placard, the field mouse meets a different woodland creature and learns about that animal’s job in the forest’s ecosystem. For example, the Douglas Squirrel races around burying Douglas fir pine cones. Some of these pine cones end up as food for the squirrel while others work toward new life as a tree.
After the Pretzel Tree loop, which Bergen by the way couldn’t get enough of as he kept exclaiming, “This is a neat hike!” and “I like this hike” as he sped from sign to sign eager to hear the next part of the story, we tackled about a mile of the main Central Peak trail.
Bergen made many friends along the way. He’s able to begin engaging with most people with his opening line of “What’s YOUR dog’s name?”. It’s a great question to have in your wheelhouse since most hikers have a doggie companion, and are happy to share the name. It also works out well since he also has his own dog to introduce, that is when Norman is behaving enough to be introduced.
The trail is doable with a young hiker (at least the mile or so that accomplished). Of course there was a steady incline as we made our way up (it’s 3.3 miles to the top), but there were plenty of flatter portions that gave our legs a break. Along the way we also found several bridges and a couple of fallen trees, both of which make the trail a whole lot more interesting for Bergen, and help to keep him moving along at a reasonable pace. Think challenges like, “Go check out that log that’s in the way of the trail!” OR “How fast can you run over this bridge?”. One pair of fellow hikers told us about and showed us pictures of the porcupine that they encountered. This also proved to be a great movement motivator: “Let’s keep hiking and see if we can find that porcupine!” But sadly, no animal encounters for on this day.
How do you keep your kids and yourself motivated on the trail? Been hiking lately? We’d love to hear your adventure!
Come join the conversation! We’d love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! You can also keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email.