A Chilly East Tiger Mountain

While on a trip to Washington last week, I managed a nice hike in the famed Issaquah Alps.  I’d vaguely heard of Tiger Mountain, a famous destination in an area draped with trails, thanks to my sister who once lived nearby.  The peak usually climbed is West Tiger #3.  My approach would instead be from the east to scale East Tiger Mountain, which sounded easier at about four miles one way but still tips the scales at over 3000 feet.

Frozen puddle on the way up

Frozen puddle on the way up

From the obvious parking area on the side of Highway 18, a dirt road wound slowly up the mountain.  I figured the road was for fire access, but as it turned out, it was for cell tower workers.  Three Ericsson trucks passed me at various points.   Ah, life in the land of 4G.  The smooth surface made for easy walking, and I tried to make tracks, as it were, since I needed be back in Federal Way before 3 p.m.

Jackie Chan telling me to hurry up

Jackie Chan telling me to hurry up

Jackie Chan and I didn’t stop until we ran into another man about my age with his own dog.  Mine’s friendly.  Mine too.  Sniff sniff.  We walked a bit faster than them and continued upwards.  After two intersections, the trail headed upward in earnest and snow appeared on the sides of the road.   The walking surface itself  got that crunchy permafrost feel, slick in spots. I motored through the cold on that north side stretch, trying getting the blood flowing.   Jackie was a trooper as usual.

A fantastic nurse log along the path.

A fantastic nurse log along the path.

It was a gorgeous day for a walk

It was a gorgeous day for a walk

I arrived on top in about an hour and a half.  The summit  was not exactly wilderness, with the cell and radio towers, but there were still nice views, and blue sky above felt like a treat for a November day in the Cascades.  Jackie sniffed about a bit but was mellow while I took photos.  Then the other dog arrived and the romping began, Jackie trying to engage the other dog in a serious game of tag.   He’s a funny little pup.

Most of Mount Rainier.  I love to blue gray hues in the foothill ranks

Part of Mount Rainier. I love the blue gray hues in the foothill ranks

The sunlight on top warmed us up, but I still wore my beanie and gloves.  Once I headed down the shadowy road, I felt quite chilly, but
I ignored it, although I kept remembering Marine Corps boot camp and how we didn’t put our hand in our pockets.  That would be using “Army gloves”.


I wore my gloves now, no problem.  As I descended the first section, I passed a group of older folks decked out in serious gear, all gaitered and wearing heavier boots, while I wore trail runners. The snow never really stuck to the path, so I had no problems, although the cold did make it a bit more of an adventure.

Nice forested slope  below

Nice forested slope below the road near the bottom

East Tiger Mountain is a nice area, and I’d recommend it for an easy walk any time of year, although visitors should know that the single track trails were closed to prevent damage to the trail, so mountain bikes may be on the road.  It is surprisingly close to Federal Way, too.  I got back to the hotel in less than forty minutes.

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on November 26, 2013, in Adventure, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Mountains, Outdoors, Winter hiking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I had family in that area for years as well. Very nice hike!

  2. I’m glad that you didn’t go on Tiger Mountain trail #3. Another name for it would be a freeway. *EVERYBODY* and their brother goes on it, and it’s just too crowded for my taste. The East Tiger Mountain trail is pretty decent. It’s not too crowded, and it actually goes a long ways (about 15 miles IIRC).
    Myself, I use Tiger Mountain mostly for training. The Cable Line and the School Line are pretty much deserted because they are really steep (about like Mailbox Peak). You don’t get a pretty vista, but you definitely get a workout.

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