Archive for February, 2010

Cougar — Tibbets Creek Trail

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

The Cougar Mountain Wikipedia Page, as well as the map produced by the Issaquah Alps Trail Club do not include the W Tibbets Creek Trail, although it does appear on the official King County Map.  I thought I should go check it out.  I ran up Claypit Road from the Sky Country trailhead, then headed on over through Tibbets Marsh.  The marsh trail itself is charming — remote seeming, with a big log across Tibbets Creek.  The sign announcing Tibbets Creek trail is new, but the trail itself did not look recently constructed.  It hugged the side of the steep-walled creek, descending consistently.  At the junction with the Bear Ridge trail, I looked in vain for a continuation of the trail down the creek bed, but it looked pretty doubtful.  Maybe I missed the junction, but the slope looks really steep.  Maybe I will try finding it from the bottom some time.

Bear Ridge Trail

I continued to the Fantastic Erratic, indeed quite a sight, then turned around and ran back up via a different set of trails.  On the way home I made a side trip to drop off a travel bug at a geocache, and to take a look at the mine shaft.


GPX: Tibbets Creek

Cougar – Blackwater Trail

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

There is an unnofficial trail described in the Cougar Mountain Park Wikipedia Page that  crosses between the junction near Wilderness Peak and East Fork Trail.  I was looking for that trail, and was looking to see where it met the trail from the east side of Claypit Peak.

The Blackwater trail junction is right at the point where the Wilderness Peak Trail meets the turnoff to the peak, and turns into the Wilderness Cliffs Trail.  It takes off to the north, indistinctly at first, but there is no point where the trail is really in doubt.  Clearly this was an established trail at one time, and apparently there is enough traffic or maintenance to keep it in good enough shape to follow.  Just at the point where the trail starts to lose altitude, the Claypit Peak trail joins in (see the waypoint in the GPX file).  The rest of the way, the trail meanders through relatively open, flat ground before joining the East Fork Trail.

Blackwater Pond


GPX: Blackwater Trail

Claypit Peak

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Claypit peak is a prominent ridge on the eastern side of Cougar Mountain park.  There are no official trails in this area, so I just had to explore.

On a gorgeous sunny day, I was again looking for a moderately short run without a whole lot of ups and downs.

I started at Sky Country Trailhead and headed up the road toward the clay pit.  I took a little diversion to run past the mine air shaft.  What a hole — just disappears down into the darkness.  It is awesome to think that the mine entrance is way back on the other side of the park.

At the clay pit, I found a little path leading to the right and up.  I followed it to the east, and eventually found a trail leading into the woods to the south, just beyond a big pile of soil.  I followed this trail, up the hill, expecting it to peter out at any time.  But id did not give out, but continued around the peak.  At one time, this must have been a road.

View From Clay Pit

After a while there was a very pronounced linear depression, reminding me of the Bagley Seam near the Red Town trailhead.  Only this one was running almost N/S, perpendicular to the coal seams.  Maybe this was some kind of exploratory trench made by miners?   The trail either followed the depression, or ran along the berm to one side or the other.  The depression was filled with water in many places.

The trail followed this feature quite a ways, then suddenly veered right and headed directly up the slope to the top.  The trail was still easy to pick out, but obviously rarely traveled, because there was an undisturbed covering of leaves from last fall.  It wandered around, seemingly aimlessly, over the height of the peak before gradually trending down.  I was surprised to suddenly come across the East Fork trail.  The junction had been brushed-in, so that it was not obvious that there was a side trail.

I continued back up toward the clay pit again, and then back down to the trailhead.

I should mention, by the way, that hiking off the trail in this area is not recommended by the park service.  While I did not see any hazards, that does not mean that they were not there.  It did occur to me that if I injured myself, I would not be able to count on anyone coming by to find me.  Next time I venture off the trail, I will carry my emergency beacon.

If I venture this way again, I think I will try to connect up with the Wilderness Peak trail.


GPX: Claypit Peak

Klondike Marsh

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

I have not been running for six months — a longer hiatus than any time since I was 14 years old.  My first few tentative outings were for a mile or less around work, and only served to show me how out of shape I have gotten.  This is my first time returning to run in Cougar Mountain.

I have chosen this route to avoid as many hills as possible, and to make a short loop.

The Sky Country Trailhead is one of the secondary starting points, no even shown as a trailhead on the King County map.  There are always a few people there, but not like Red Town.

I started by going over to the trailhead sign to pick up a map, and ran around the Nike base a little bit before picking up the trail.  The look around Klondike Marsh is relatively flat.  The trail was pretty muddy, so I could not go very fast, which is about right for today.

Length: 2.8 miles

Klondike Loop

GPX: Klondike Marsh