Cougar Mountain Spring Loop

At 10:00 pm the night before the forecast was for rain and high winds all day. The avalanche danger in the mountains was considerable. I considered taking the whole weekend off. Eight hours later I checked again early Sunday morning. Now it was partly cloudy with no rain and no wind. Huh? time to go for a hike. The last few weeks I saw yellow violets on two hikes. No other wildflowers. I decided to avoid the avalanche danger and head for a low elevation hike to check out any wildflower progress. I was not expecting much so chose to just take my cell phone for a camera. I headed for Red Town at Cougar Mountain. I arrived at the 640' lot at 8:45 am. The upper lot near the road is still closed down. I have no idea why. The now smaller lot was 75% full. I was on my way by 8:52 pm. This winter I have done sevral trips on the north end of the mountain. I'm just a bit tired of Anti Aircraft Peak. Time for a trip on the other end.

I headed out long Coal Creek crossing the creek then the old road. The Wildside Trail is a lot softer on my feet than the old road/Red Town Trail for the first .80 miles before they meet again. Very wet trillium started showing up. They were weighted down by the rain the day before. I only found a few that were facing up for photographs. Just before the next bridge I found a patch of bleeding hearts in bloom. The first of the year and the only ones seen all day long. Less than half a mile from my car and already more blooming wildflowers than I expected to see. Now I wished I had brought a better camera.

I saw some colts foot and some yellow violets also early on. Violets were not in profusion though I saw them in many places. The one patch of coltsfoot was the only one I saw. At .80 miles the Red Town Trail came in and the Indian Trail began. I made good time on the flat trail and soon reached Far Country Falls. I went to the top of the falls and then took the short trail to the bottom. The recent rain had a good flow coming over the falls. Next I headed up to Far Country Lookout. I was now in the fog/clouds and had zero view from the viewpoint. It was dripping but never enough to pull out my umbrella.

I followed the Shy Bear Trail to the junction with the Deceiver Trail and turned right on that trail. This trail has a number of good sized trees down across it. One big one has caused folks to beet out a trail up and around it. I dropped down to the side trail to Doughty Falls passing a group of runners. I dropped to the falls viewpoint and met a hiker with a big beard. He had a hoody on I asked if he was Stuke Sowell or a look a like. It was the latter. I soon found out it was Mark Griffith. I have followed him on NWHikers and Facebook but had not met him. A pretty good flow over this often nearly dry falls.

I hiked up to the main trail and over to the creek crossing. There are a few skunk cabbage that grow near the bridge. I hoped to see at least some leaves. I did. One patch of leaves have grown above the water level. Still several weeks away from any bright yellow color. Oh well, no skunk cabbage yet. Now came the climb up Deceiver Ridge. I quickly met three women coming down the trail. It was Page, Amy, and Tove. I have run into Page and friends several times already this year. They were heading out to find some chocolate lilies they had heard about. I have never seen them in the lowlands near Seattle. That might merit a change in my plans. In a few places over the whole trip I found some salmon berry flowers.  One more sign of spring. One atop the ridge the route heads over to the short side trail to Long View Peak. I took the trail and found it to be Long Gone View Peak with enough clouds to hide a view if it still existed. Once there was a good view from there.

I continued on to Shy Bear Pass and then up Wilderness Peak. Wilderness Peak at 1595' is the highest point on Cougar Mountain. At about this point I figured out the rest of my trip. Back down to Shy Bear Pass then on to the Shy Bear Trail. I took this all the way back to Far Country Lookout. There are two very good spots along this trail to see skunk cabbage. After seeing how far away the Deceiver Trail skunk cabbage from blooming I had low expectations. In fact the skunk cabbage were almost at their peak already. I went a bit off trail on both spots to find some close up photo opportunities. At the viewpoint I actually had a bit of a view as the clouds had risen.

I dropped to the Indian Trail and took a side trail to De Leo Wall. I have only been there a few times in the last couple decades. Taking the side trip brought my total mileage up to 10 miles. There is a bit of a view from the wall. There is also a big tree down that requires climbing over. Lots of work for trail crews to clean up. I made it back to the parking lot at 1:34 pm. I did stop on the way back for more photos of the bleeding hearts. It was a good idea as only one morning shot was not blurry.

I hiked 10 miles for the day. Without a GPS track I guesstimated about 1700' of elevation gain via checking the map afterwards. The weather was much better than expected. The moss was very wet from recent rain and the overcast really brought out the colors. This was another trip where the views were all around rather then out from a summit. The wildflower display was much better than I expected. Less than a week ago on Tiger Mountain we saw only some trillium and yellow violets. While not prolific at higher elevations, the display on Cougar is coming along nicely. All that and I was home by 2:15 pm. A more fun day than I had any right to expect, especially at 10:00 pm the night before.

Bleeding Hearts
Two Trillium
A Perfect Trillium
Great Mossy Colors
Top Of FC Falls
Bottom Of Falls
No Far Country View
Outstanding Colors
Misty Forest
Doughty Falls
Skunk Cabbage Leaves
Yellow Violets
Mossy Mist
Turkey Tail Fungus
Along The Trail
Blooming Skunk Cabbage
Salmon Berry Bloom
Lots of Cabbage
Closer Look
Lone Skunk Cabbage
More Trail Color
Bright Moss
Even More Moss
Crazy Colors
FC Lookout View
Another Trillium
Chocolate Lily
More Chocolate
White Flower
De Leo Wall View
Last Trillium
Back At Bleeding Hearts
Last Bleeding Hearts
Coal Creek
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019