Poo Poo Point Tiger 3-2-1 Loop

Twas a week before Christmas and I received one present early. It was a sunny mid 50s day in Mid December. The rain was due in on Sunday so I decided to make the most of Saturday with some significant distance and elevation gain. The lowlands were expected to be buried in fog/smog for the whole day so I knew I had to get above it. I pulled into the Chirico traihhead at 8:30. There were two cars in the lot. I expect there were probably 20 cars at the High Point trailhead. It was foggy and a little chilly as I started out. The Chirico trail is very smooth as it steadily gains elevation at a moderate pace. This is the only fairly recent trail which feels like a trail and not a small gauge road. Forget about walking side by side on this route. It didn't take long for me to get above the fog. It was quickly warming up as well.

The first good views were at the lower paraglider take off point. Puget Sound was under fog and it continued inland all the way to Tiger Mountain. Mt. Rainier was out in he bright sunshine. Best of all the wind was blowing at zero without even a gentle gust. I reached the upper point at 9:30 having already gained 1700'. In the first mile I was passed by the two other groups who were coming down. The towers of downtown Seattle were visible above the mist. The Olympics were clear with a sea of white below.

I was soon on my way. The trail descends a little then climbs rapidly to the end of the West Tiger Railroad Grade. I followed the grade to the four way intersection where the High School trail comes up. I turned right, uphill, following the One View Trail. Trees fell here in the big storm of 2003 and views now exist out to Tiger 2. The trail has since been totally cleaned up. Unfortunately they did not stop there. The first part of the trail has now been dug out to where it is 6-8 feet wide. There is absolutely no need for this seldom used trail to be turned into a road. I could drive my car on some of it. Thankfully the road builders gave up for now and it resumes as a beautiful 3-4 foot wide trail. In one mile I reached the Tiger Mountain Trail at Fifteen Mile Gap. A right turn for a short distance took me to another intersection. I went left, steeply uphill to the road.

The last section to the top of Tiger 1 is a nice though steep ridge hike. The trail was snow free and in great condition. Higher up I had a clear view of East Tiger. I saw that the gates around the towers are now locked. Instead of walking over the top, I took the Bypass Trail around to the western viewpoint near the Hikers Hut. Another group was there but just leaving. It was now 54 degrees and sunny. The wind was still nonexistent. After lunch, including a few Camp Robber Jay attacks, I was off for Tiger 2. The drop and climb back up went quickly. From Tiger 2 I had a clear view east to Mt. Si. This marked the half way point of my hike. It felt like spring as I was down to short sleeves. Rather than the cable line I took the old Seattle View Trail down to the TMT. It's a bit overgrown but still easily followed.

Over at Tiger 3 I found the scene I expected. There were 15 people on the summit. Down below were people spending the day in a dark foggy overcast. Up on the mountain it was short sleeves and a spring like day. Even with the crowd it was pleasant on top. For my route back I chose to begin by descending the Section Line Trail. It is steep but dry and the tread was OK. After losing 500' I reached the West Tiger Railroad Grade once again. A left turn and I was off to cross Many Creek Valley. When I first hiked this trail about 20 years ago it was difficult to follow. Now it is in fine shape. All the old railroad trestles are long gone. There are a number of creeks where the trail drops to cross then climbs back to the grade again. There were even a few flowers left from the spring and summer.

Two miles of walking brought me back to the High School - One View intersection. From there it just a short jaunt back to Poo Poo Point. It was still early so I stretched out on the hillside and enjoyed the sunshine. There were only two other groups there when I arrived. Soon after that the paragliders began to arrive. They come out in droves when its warm and the thermals are there. I did not expect many in mid December. Before long there were half a dozen and they kept coming. The wind was extremely light but it was enough to get them in the air. Those folks are as hard core about flying as I am about hiking.

After a long stay I finally started down. The descent went very fast. I was back at the parking lot in only 35 minutes. I am disappointed with the lack of snow in the mountains so far this year. On the other hand, this was as pleasant a December hike as I can remember. I expect it will be many months before I am back hiking in short sleeves.

Lower Point

Mt. Rainier
Squak Mountain
One View Trail
15 Mile Gap
Downed Trees
Squak & Cougar
Fog Below
Gray Jay
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2004