Cougar Mt. Big Loop

It rained nearly all the past week. We headed out on a rainy mid-week evening and got in a dry headlamp hike. On Saturday the mountain passes were closed most of the evening. I headed out Sunday for a close in hike without much, if any, snow. The year is rapidly coming to a close and I wasted to get in double digit mileage and get home before dark. With $4.00/gallon gas I didn't mind a cheaper trip too. I headed for Cougar Mountain. I pulled into the Red Town Trailhead at about 8:15 am. By 8:20 am I was on my way. I chose to do the loop clockwise. This left the hard packed Indian Trail and Wildside Trails for the end. I figured it was better to have some plantar pain at the end and not at the beginning. I headed up the less used Military Road/Trail heading towards the Sky Country Trailhead. It was 37 degrees at first and never made it over 40 degrees. Gloves were necessary. The lot was half empty starting out and full when I returned.

From the Sky Country Trailhead I followed the Nike Trail to the Cave Hole Road. I passed the old missile site that is now a big green meadow. I reached the AA Peak Trailhead at 9:35 am. It was 3.3 miles to the Million Dollar View. This morning it was the No View viewpoint. I stopped for a few minutes for food and water at the covered picnic building. Then it was up to the top of AA Peak and down the Lost Beagle Trail. This led to the route to the Clay Pit. I saw a few runners along here. Lots of water in Tibbetts Creek. Nearing the Clay Pit I saw some sunshine poking through the clouds. I reached the Clay Pit Road and turned left. I quickly reached the Clay Pit. Unlike my last visit I could see Tiger Mountain this day. I could also see Mt. Si and Mt. Teneriffe. Lots of fresh snow on the peaks.

I headed down the road and turned off on the Mine Shaft Trail quickly reaching the old shaft. The trail climbs to Jerry's Duckpond and becomes the East Fork Trail. This drops down to Fred's Railroad. I followed that past the Quarry Trail and the Shy Bear Trail to Shy Bear Pass. The day before I checked out trip reports and someone mentioned workers building a new trail near Shy Bear Pass. I was afraid the trail might be close. In fact, I saw no signs of any trail work. I headed up the steep trail towards Wilderness Peak. I goes right up the fall line. I have been hiking this trail for nearly 40 years. I tagged the summit and headed right down. Along the way I saw a boardwalk for a new trail that in that spot was very close to the old trail. Farther down I saw a boot path that was the bottom of the new trail. I followed it up to near the summit of Wilderness Peak once again. It is nearly finished and should be opened by spring.

Back down at Shy Bear Pass, I headed on towards Long View Peak. That .4 mile went fast. I took the short trail up to the top of the peak. I dropped down and followed the Deceiver Trail as it dropped down to the creek below. Just across the creek is the shot side trail to the view of Doughy Falls. More water was coming over the falls than usual. Not surprising after a week of steady rain. I continued on the way to Far Country Lookout. I arrived at 12:53 pm. I had covered 10.2 miles. Just two 2 miles to go. The last 2 miles are on the hardest surface and my right heel was beginning to hurt. The first 10 miles were not bad. That is some progress. I was slow the rest of the way. I saw some folks the last mile but it was never crowded. It was good to see the parking lot. Across the lot and one short climb brought me back to my car at 1:41 pm. I took 5:41 to hike 12.2 miles.

This turned out to be a fun hike. I saw folks but never very many. All the ups and downs added up to about 2100' of gain. It was nice to get in a 12 mile trip. Even better to be home several hours before darkness. If the snow keeps falling most of my trips will be at least partly on snow during the winter. This was one last double digit hike on bare ground.

Mossy Arbor
Sky Country  Sign
Big Meadow
Mossy Tree
Water Droplet
Misty Forest
Buck Fifty View
White Berries
Tibbetts Creek
Clay Pit View
Another Arbor
Some Sunshine
Lit Up Droplet
Blue Sky
Wilderness Peak Summit
Lots Of Mushrooms
Is That A New Trail?
Tiny White Mushrooms
New Arbor
End Of Trail
Good Color
Under Mushroom
Doughty Falls
Far Country Lookout
Great Color
Far Country Falls
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2021