SquakSP Big Loop

I flew back from California the evening before and did not have a good idea for a hike. It rained on Saturday and Sunday looked to be drier. I finally came up with a short drive for a trip I first did last year alone and then with Gary. I did not get an early start and reached the Squak State Park lot on the south side of the mountain at 8::23 am. I was on my way at 8:27 am. It was a not so balmy 33 degrees at the start. I reached the first junction and turned left. A minute later I stopped. I had done this look twice before and both times I did it clockwise. How about going in the opposite direction? It was very hazy. I thought if I reached Debbie's View later it might clear up. The right route crossed the main road and then drops to cross Phil's Creek on a big bridge. Before the bridge I passed the first person of the day. It would be almost an hour later before I passed the second person. Almost all of this trip is on gently graded trails. This section is especially so. It climbs with a series of switchbacks.

I passed the wooden bench just off the trail. Then the route climbs above the creek to the second crossing. I crossed and turned right. The trail now is near the creek. I saw a very large patch of leafless devil's club just waiting for spring to green and more threatening. I passed the East Ridge Trail and the Summit trail just a minute later. I decided to take the longer and gentler Phil's Creek and Old Griz Trails to Central Peak rather than the Summit Trail. I passed a runner along here. There are some new down trees across the trail. Some have been cut. All were easy to get by. I turned uphill on the Old Griz Trail. The smooth trail is one of my favorites. Some roots were wet and slick and I managed to slip and fall on one.

At the top of the Old Griz I turned left for the short climb to the top of Central Peak. At 2024', it is the highest point on Squak Mountain. The way was snow free until near the top of Old Griz. There were a few snowy patches on upper Phil's Creek Trail. The top of Central Peak was entirely covered with a few inches of fresh snow. I checked out the Squak Mountain Microwave and it had 3 or 4 inches of snow on it. It was now 10:20 am and I took a food and water break. There were no views out but I did now have mostly blue sky overhead. The temperature was in the high 30s where it spent most of the trip. The runner reached the top along with one hiker. That doubled my human sightings.

I was still planning my route. I could take the ridge top short cut to the Bullitt Fireplace or drop down the trail and then climb up to the fireplace. That is longer and has more elevation gain. For that reason I headed down. I passed the Old Griz Trail and at the bottom of the descent I reached the next junction. The trail heading down the north side of Squak would be my route but first I headed up to the fireplace. There was another tree down on this section. I stopped at the fireplace for yet another photo of it. This one had snow on the ground. I saw the hiker I had seen on Central Peak and one other hiker. I quickly dropped back down to the junction. I headed downhill on the Central Peak Trail. The snow went much lower on the north side than on the east side I hiked earlier.

The trail runs into the Bullitt Fireplace Trail which is an old road. I turned off of it to reach my lowest spot on the north side. At about 1250' I reached a four way junction. I turned left and began to climb the Chybinski Trail. I first hiked this trail coming down last spring. This was my first time hiking up it. The grade is gentle as it winds its way uphill. All the creeks are crossed on bridges. It is easy hiking. I saw nobody from the fireplace almost to Debbie's View. I reached the top of the trail and met Margaret's Way Trail heading down the other side of the ridge top. I turned left and quickly reached the Perimeter Loop Trail. This took me to the side trail down to Debbie's View. I did not expect to be alone there and I was not.

Mt. Rainier was completely lost in the clouds. I was on top of low fog though. For a cloudy day the view was pretty neat. Early in the trip I had views through the trees to the top of the fog. Looking at the map, I had earlier noted a trail dropping to a road. I had not seen it on earlier visits. This time I took a good look and found it easily. I had to see where it went. The path drops fast losing about 80' where it reaches a dirt road. The map shows the road dropping down to the May Valley Road. Even without leaves, I could not see much through the trees. I headed back uphill. Some people had left and some more reached Debbie's View. I took a few more photos and headed back u to the Perimeter Trail. Most people turn left and head for Margaret's Way Trail. I was not heading down the Perimeter Trail. At the next junction I reached the Bullitt Gorge Trail which drops down to the State Park lot where I started.

The hike down was not surprisingly the busiest part of my trip. It was never crowded but in the last mile I probably passed 15 or so people heading uphill. I reached the parking lot at 12:57 pm. For the day I hiked 10.25 miles with 2600' of elevation gain in 4:30. For this trip I took my lightweight hiking shoes instead of my high top boots. Over more than 10 miles the weight savings was noticeable. I still had my winter weight backpack. After flying home the day before, it was nice to have a short drive. It was also nice to avoid Tiger and Cougar Mountains where I have spent a lot of the past few months. A little snow was pretty without having enough to slow me down. Clouds blocked views out but I had some sunshine and was above the dark fog that lasting into the afternoon down low. All in all, it was an excellent close to the city hike.

Starting Up The Trail
Misty Mossy Arch
More Mist
Colorful Moss
Freshly Cut Log
Twin Cedars
Above The Clouds
Log Bench
First Snow
Wide Angle Trees
Big Log
Snowy Trail
Squak Mt. Microwave
Blue Sky
Broken Tree
Bullitt Fireplace
Old Signs
Chybinski Bridge
Top Of Chybinski
Debbie's Clouds View
Perimeter Loop Trail
Better Moss Show
Good Stuff
Some Sunshine
Dark Moss
Forest Floor
Almost Back
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2023