Cougar Short Loop

Kim was free for a hike and we decided on a loop trip around Cougar Mountain. Wildflowers have begun to bloom the past few weeks. Kim tried out new boots and we planned a trip where there would be lots of time for photos. We arrived at the Red Town Trailhead at 8:02 am. We were packed and on our way at 8:11 am. The lot was about half full already. The blooming bleeding hearts started right at the beginning. We did the loop trip counterclockwise. This would get the visit to DeLeo Wall done early. We would be heading high on the mountain when the crowds were arriving.  We took the Wildside Trail most of the way to DeLeo Wall. The display of blooming trillium and bleeding hearts was extensive. Lots and lots of them. We also saw spring beauty and yellow violets. At the end of the Wildside Trail we turned right on the DeLeo Wall Trail. I have not hiked this trail often. I did do it just a couple years ago. The trail climbs as it contours around Marshall"s Hill. We reached the DeLeo Wall viewpoint at 9:27 am. It took a few moments for me to see the first chocolate lily. They I saw many more. Kim noticed an Indian paintbrush starting to bloom. Two wildflowers I would not expect to find on Cougar Mountain.

We took a break at the viewpoint/. We saw no other people there. We arrived at 9:27 am and stayed until 9:51 am. On the way back we neared a pond and heard a cacophony of frog croaking. We heard nothing when coming in. Just beyond the Wildside Trail is the Indian Trail. We turned right and passed the short spur to Far Country Falls. Then came a left turn onto the Far Country Trail up to Far Country Lookout.  As are most new or newly worked trails on Cougar, this one is graded very gently. The old road up tot he lookout was short and steep. The view at FC Lookout is narrowing as the trees grow but a view still remains. Just after the top, the trail name changes to the Shy Bear Trail. All along the way we continued to see bleeding hearts, trillium, yellow violets, and a few other wildflowers.

We were starting to see runners passing by. Still not many hikers. At the junction with the Deceiver Trail we stayed on the Shy Bear Trail. The route drops to a mucky and muddy spot with a narrow bridge across it. This is a prime spot to see skunk cabbage in the spring. It was a little past prime but there was still a lot of yellow. Also the skunk like smell. Many more photos were taken. The trail goes up and down into another creek spot with more skunk cabbage.  From here it is a steady climb up to the junction with Fred's Railroad. We turned left onto that trail. The route passes the Quarry Trail and begins a very gentle descent. Some wildflowers came and went but the bleeding hearts and trillium just kept on going. There is an interesting side trip up to the Clay Pit but we decided to keep to our route. Kim had not been out hiking much lately and the base route would still be a good workout.

Right before reaching the Clay Pit Road, we took the Connector Trail over to the Cave Hole Road. Now we were starting to see some other hikers. Never crowded but at least some others. We left the Cave Hole Road turning right onto the Nike  Horse Trail heading to the Sky Country Trailhead. The sun was late coming out. We had some sunshine in places. There is a big meadow near the trailhead and we stopped there for lunch. When the sun came out it was pleasantly warm When it went behind a cloud it was still chilly.  The meadow was once the place where the Nike missiles were located beneath the ground. The missiles were long gone when I first visited back in the mid 1980s. They were removed in 1964. The metal doors were there then. Now there is just a big grassy meadow.

We arrived at the meadow at 12:40 am and stayed until 1:45 pm. We were in no hurry and an hour plus was fine. Plenty of time for photos and relaxing on this close to town hike. When we started back it was only a few minutes to the Sky Country parking lot. From the trail sign there it is almost exactly 1 mile back to the Red Town Trailhead. It was a pleasant hike. Still more bleeding hearts and trillium and a few other wildflowers were seen. We reached my car at 2:42 pm. We spent 6:41 covering just 7 miles. That was just what we had planned. A low key day enjoying the forest and relaxing in the sunshine. It was still early in the afternoon. The drive home was easy and fast. We were back at my place before 3:30 pm.

The trip went just as planned. I was going on another hike on Sunday. An easy  one this day was great. We hiked 7 miles with right about 1000' of elevation gain. It was less crowded than I expected. As usual, the parking lot was full when we returned. I ended up with quite a few wildflower photos. After seeing one or two bleeding heart plants in bloom this spring we hit the jackpot this day. Trillium varied form just opening to already pink and fading. We did not have as much sunshine as forecast but the day wormed up nicely and there were numerous patches of sunshine. About normal for spring in the Seattle area. Kim tried out new boots and reported no problems. I had plenty of energy left for Sunday's hike. It was a fine spring day on the trail.

Lot Is Half Empty
Bleeding  Hearts
Bunch Of Bleeding Hearts
Closer Look
Past Prime Trillium
Spring Beauty
Yellow Violet
Chocolate Lily
Indian Paintbrush
Strawberry Flower
Kim At DeLeo Wall
Forest Hiking
Very Green Stump
Mossy Trees
Kim Leads The Way
Narrow Boardwalk
Skunk Cabbage
More Boardwalk
More Skunk Cabbage
Bleeding Heart Border
Really Deep Red
Turkeytail Fungus
Lit Up Moss
Twin Trillium
The Big Meadow
Kim On Trail
Dark Shadows
Mostly Blue Sky
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2022