Cougar Mountain Loop

I seldom write reports for close in Cougar Mountain. This time I will as the spring wildflower show is underway. I worked until 2:00 pm then headed out of town. Unlike when I leave at 3:15 pm for our winter after work hikes, this time traffic was no problem. By 2:45 pm I was at Red Town heading onto the trail. This trip was a clockwise loop to Anti Aircraft Peak, the Clay Pit, Wilderness Peak, and Far Country Lookout. It was in the low 60s and sunny to start. Perfect weather for shorts and short sleeves. The lot was a little more than half full.

Up the Cave Hole Road I went. A nice uphill climb to warm up. I planned to hit several of my favorite spots for spring wildflowers in hopes that the early spring would be underway. I was not disappointed. I reached Fred's Railroad and crossed the Clay Pit Road. Immediately the flower show began. Some trillium, then salmonberry flowers. As I headed towards AA Peak I saw some yellow violets. A short break at AA Peak and I headed over to the Clay Pit. I made one short detour at the junction with the trail to Cougar Pass. Just a minute or two along I reached the skunk cabbage spot. Yes indeed they were blooming. Not quite peak but a number of yellow spathes were in view.

At the Clay Pit Road I went down a short way to pick up the trail to Jerry's Duck Pond. Interesting lighting with trees reflected in the pone. The East Fork Trail down to Fred's Railroad has some muddy spots as usual in the spring. I turned left on the old railroad grade and headed for Shy Bear Pass. So far I had only seen a couple of groups. It did not get much more crowded. I turned uphill at the pass and climbed 300' to Wilderness Peak, the highest point on Cougar Mountain.

Some water and a quick signing of the summit register and I was on my way down. I retraced my steps to the Shy Bear Trail. This has two more good skunk cabbage spots. I reached 6.8 miles at the start of this trail.The first spot has some skunk cabbage in bloom but it will be a another week or so before the peak. I did notice some turkey tail fungus that I had not seen before. My phone camera did an okay job of capturing them. 
Along with more trillium and yellow violets I saw several big patches of spring beauty along here. The next boardwalk through the swamp had a better batch of blooming skunk cabbage. They are still not yet at peak either.

Now I picked up speed heading for Far Country Lookout. Then I found more turkey tails and had another photo stop. Once at FCL I had less than two miles to go. They went by fast as I reached the parking lot at 6:53. With my stops I ended up taking 4:08 to hike 10 miles with about 1700' of elevation gain. Not bad for an after work hike. I was late enough to speed home across I-90 and through Seattle at the speed limit. Winter was nearly non existent this year. Spring is definitely ahead of schedule. There was not a profusion of wildflowers in bloom but a very nice variety. All that and it is still only March.

Cave Hole Road
Two Trillium
Spring Beauty
Mucky Trail On AA Pk
Yellow Violet
Lone Skunk Cabbage
Skunk Cabbage Patch
Perfect Trillium
Clay Pit
Duck Pond Reflection
Mossy Trees
First Turkey Tail
Another Skunk Cabbage
More Turkey Tails
Turkey Tail Close Up
More Color
Far Country LO View
Bleeding Hearts
Mini Mushrooms
Orange Ooze
Fading Trillium
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015