Sunset Tiger 1-2-3 Loop

This has been a difficult hiking month. With two weekends left I had only two hikes and a ski trip starting from my house. I needed a good leg stretcher. The forecast was for clear in Seattle but a 40% chance of rain at Tiger Mountain and higher farther east. I left mostly clear skies in the morning to drive to cloudy Issaquah. It was misty when I arrived at the Sunset Way trailhead at 8:10 am. The lot was nearly full. I was ready to go at 8:16 am. Driving in I could only see the very bottom of the mountain. I expected to climb into the clouds very fast. Instead the clouds rose quickly. I climbed up from 100' elevation at the start to the Tradition Plateau. I took the Wetlands Trail to Round Lake then down the road to the start of the Poo Poo Point Trail. The puddles were huge on the flats but it was not too muddy once I started climbing again. I reached the big bridge at 9:20 am. The trail quickly began a steeper ascent. A few hundred feet below the railroad grade the snow began.

So far I had passed a family of four heading up and four runners heading down. It was a bit slick but the bigger nuisance was frozen snow in the trees thawing and raining down on me. At the railroad grade several hikers passed heading town. I continued up on the One View Trail. I was in the clouds now so it was the No View Trail. I stopped to but on microspikes and I instantly had great traction. The temperature dropped below freezing and the raining tree precipitation stopped. I reached the Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT) and turned right. So far I could see a set of tracks heading up. A runner ran down and his tracks were the only recent downhill ones. At the TMT junction a second set of recent tracks added in. I reached the next junction and took the Hidden Forest Trail uphill. This starts our very steep.

As the grade eased the trees were really plastered with fresh snow. It was really beautiful. There was a little wet sleety snow but higher up it turned to bigger snowflakes. It was very winter like now. When I crossed the road it had five or six inches of snow. I started up the Poo Top Trail and the snow was thinner in the trees. This trail also starts out very steep. I had better traction with spikes than I have on bare dirt. The snow was packed down making it easy to follow the trail. I slowed down here as the snow plus many photo stops effected my speed.

Snow laden branches hung low over the trail leading to a few cold snow dumps down my neck. So far the wind was minimal, much better than forecast. I finally popped out of the forest onto the road at the top of Tiger 1. It was 10:58 am. 2:42 was not a fast pace. Not too bad under the conditions with a winter weight pack and taking a lot of photos. I seldom take many photos on Tiger but the snow made it a lot more photogenic. At the summit I had hiked 5.3 miles with  3050' of elevation gain. Since I was in forest the wind was gentle and I took my lunch break here rather than down at the exposed Hikers Hut. Another hiker came up from the other side. He was doing a loop for the first time so I provided a little info on the route over to Tiger 2. I headed down to the Hikers Hut next.

There were some folks in the hut as I passed. The door as ajar and I heard their voices. It is great in the winter but I have not been inside since the pandemic began a year ago. There was some more wind and it felt much colder than the mid upper 20s temperature.There was not much snow considering all we had a week ago. There was 5-6 inches of fresh snow. After more photos and a quick video I headed on down. I passed a couple heading up. Down to the road junction then uphill to Tiger 2. The uphill allowed me to warm up again. There would not be much uphill left after this. I took a quick stop atop Tiger 2 and headed on to Tiger 3. I saw several more groups on this leg. The first time I had seen multiple groups in a short time frame on this trip.

I reached the top of Tiger 3 seeing a German Shepard with a red bandanna.  I called out asking if this was Gracie. Yep, there were Mark and Nancy Higgins. I had not seen them in a long time and I had never met Gracie though I follow her hiking exploits online. It's always fun to run into someone on the trail that you seldom see. I planned to continue right over Tiger 3 but we talked for 15 or more minutes. I had several possible routes down form the summit. Nancy said that cars were parked far down the road and that made up my mind. I wanted more miles and to avoid big crowds. Section line would do one but not the other. Main trail also provided one. I decided to be creative and try for both.

We headed down different ways. I dropped back down the way I came. I left the Cable Line Trail at the junction with the TMT. I headed left around Tiger 2. I followed the TMT down to the junction with the K-3 Trail. This steep but direct route would take be down to the TMT again cutting out quite a few miles. From just below Tiger 3 to the bottom of the K-3 I saw zero people. Good solitude for over an hour. Shortly after crossing the railroad grade the snow thinned quickly. I stopped to take off my jacket, wool hat, and microspikes. At the bottom I turned left on the TMT crossing two big bridges quickly. This route has ups and downs as it heads back towards the main High Point Trailhead. The first half of the way there I saw nobody. Then the crowds started to arrive. I passed 23 people in the next mile or so. I had no problem getting off the trail to pass. I passed about half the people seen in nearly 12 miles in that one mile. Not a bad trade off for a lot of solitude most of the day.

At the end of the TMT. I went over to the Bus Trail. I made good time the rest of the way back on smooth gently graded trails. At the end of the Bus Trail I crossed the pipeline and closed my loop. Back to the Wetlands Trail again. I did follow a newly signed lower part of the Wetlands Trail for a rare first time hiked trail on Tiger Mountain. I arrived at the trailhead at 2:47 pm. I took 6:31 to hike just under 12 miles with 3600' of gain. I was expecting rain showers most of the trip. I started with a little drizzle but only that one part with melting snow raining down on me was wet. With microspikes the snow travel was fine though slower than on dirt. Recent snow highlighted everything. Bushes and branches were totally caked in white. Trees had white stripes up and trunks. The thickly packed trees atop Tiger 1 were completely frosted white. I ran into old friends too. I even managed to avoid most of the huge crowds that hike from the High Point Trailhead. It was a strenuous and great day for a winter hike.

Mossy Walls
Round Lake
New Bridge
Mossy Trees
Still Snow Free
Impaled In The Ground
Mossy Arch
Snowy One View
Snow Caked Branches
Snowy Gate
Snowy Steps
Snowy Road
Steep Poo Top Trail
Looking Up
Nearing Tiger 1
Top Of Tiger 1
Elevation 2948'
Hikers Hut
Snow Plastered Trees
Heading To Tiger 2
Tiger 2 Summit
T2 Elevation 2757'
Mark, Nancy, & Gracie
Cloudy TMT
Clear & Snowy
Crossing RR Grade
Back On TMT
Big Bridge
More Mossy Trees
Good Colors
Ferns On Trees
Bus Trail
Great Mossy Arch
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2021