TRAIL OF THE WEEK: Our seasonally accessible trail information and trip report. Found online or delivered to your in box every Sunday night.

Cougar Mountain Park

Embark on a journey in the Issaquah Alps, and learn a bit about the history that made this area boom in the early 1800s. This unique hike provides you with 36 miles of trails that allow you to view relics from the mining days. On the trail you’ll find remains of carts, railroads, dams, and cables abandoned after 100 years of coal mining. Peer into the dark mouths of abandoned mine shafts as you make your way through the mountain park, passing numerous ponds and lakes that mark exploded shafts, testaments to the numerous tunnels that once existed beneath the earth.


Because of its proximity to the Eastside and its unique historical experience, Cougar Mountain Park is a hit for hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. A winter weekday is a great time to hike this popular park.


Set off into the deciduous forest of maple and alder, following the signs towards the Wildside Trail. At the trail turnoff, you have the option to view the Ford Slope coalmining exhibit, which features a sealed off mine shaft, a coal cart, and information about Cougar Mountain’s mining history. Follow the twists and turns of the mossy Wildside Trail and turn right onto the Indian Trail. Turn left onto the Far Country Trail where you will face a gentle climb to the Shy Bear Trail. On clear winter days, the Far Country Lookout provides scenic views of Lake Washington. Following the Shy Bear Trail, take a right onto the Deceiver Trail, making sure to take a brief stop at the wide-mouthed Doughty Falls. After a brief stint on the Long View Peak Trail, take a left onto the Shy Bear Trail and follow it to Fred’s Railroad Trail. Here you have an option to take the Quarry Trail, which leads to the stunning Coal Creek Falls, or continue on Fred’s Railroad Trail and turn onto the East Fork Trail, which will take you to a grate-covered mine shaft. Whichever path you decide to take, you can count on the Cave Hole Trail to take you back to Red Town Trailhead, and provide you with spooky views of collapsed and flooded mine shafts.



Length: 4-5 miles

Variety: loop

Difficulty: my grandmother could do it

Season: winter

Open to: hikers, horseback riders, dogs

Maps: Green Trails No. 203S,


How to get there:
From I-90 take Exit 13. Drive south on Lakemont Blvd SE for 3.1 miles. The entrance to Red Town Trailhead will be on your left following a pedestrian crossing sign.


From I-405 take Exit 10. Follow Coal Creek Parkway SE for 2.4 miles. Turn left at the stoplight, onto SE 72nd Pl. Turn left at the stop sign onto Newcastle Golf Club Road and follow the road for 1.9 miles. The Red Town Trailhead entrance will be on your right.

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