Margaret's Way Trail

Many trailheads near Seattle have been closed for several weeks. Lowland snow filled up the parking lots. The trailheads for Little Si and Snoqualmie Point on Rattlesnake did open late this week. I could find no information on Squak Mountain Trailheads. On my way home from Saturday's hike on Grand Ridge I detoured around Squak and found the state park trailhead at the south end was open. It had been plowed and the snow was piled up on the edges. Margaret's Way trailhead was also plowed. There was a ten foot tall pile of snow off to the side. Tiger Mountain has been very crowded as most of those trailheads are open. I decided to head up Margaret's Way Trail. The lot is not that big. It would not be as crowded as Tiger Mountain. Sunday morning I left I-90 at Highway 900 and drove 3.2 miles to the Margaret's Way parking lot. There were 4 or 5 cars in the lot when I arrived at 8:10 am. By 8:18 am I was packed up and on my way.

Snow started almost immediately. Just an inch or so on the road. I quickly left the road and headed up the trail. It was partly bare and partly slick slushy snow. Up to the road and it too was mostly snowy but with some bare spots. The route goes through the old campgrounds. The trail leaves the road with a switchback. There is a tree down near the sign. It did not block the sign but I went around the tree on the right and the sign is on the left. The road kept going. Soon it did not seem quite right. I have only done this trail three times previously and never on snow. Still it did not seem right. I checked my gps and it showed the trail about 100' right above me. Oops! At that point a spur road went steeply uphill. I hoped it would go up to the trail without any bushwhacking. To my surprise it did.

I intersected another road that is the trail at that point. A short way farther the route goes off on trail with a well marked sign. The snow was still thin and slick but with poles I was fine. The grade is never very steep on this trail so I would likely have been fine without poles along here. At a switchback there is a viewpoint. There was little blue sky. No long views but pretty good shorter ones. The trail continues up and when I came to a sign for another viewpoint I took that trail. About one tenth of a mile along I reached the viewpoint. Better views than the first one. When I backtracked to the main trail I saw three folks who had passed me. They were hiking my speed so I stayed a ways behind them. The recent storms have knocked a lot of big branches down. I did my best to pull as many as possible off the trail. By the end of the day I removed about a dozen big branches and small logs. The longest were about 15'.

I caught up with the other group when they reached a spot where a tree was down. I saw the trail going straight and pushed branches aside to get through. The other group soon followed and I could see or hear them much of the way up to the top of Margaret's Way Trail. All the recent snow had flocked the trees and the higher I went the better they looked. In the forest the snow was never very deep. Well up the switchbacks I met two women coming down. Those five people seen were the only ones I saw for the first 5.5 miles. Solitude in Issaquah. The last .75 miles to the top was on hard packed snow. It was slick. I did okay with poles but knew I'd use microspikes coming down. I reached the top of the trail at the Chybinski Loop Trail. I arrived at about 10:00 am. I went right to the junction with the Perimeter Trail and the West Peak Trail. The Perimeter goes to Debby's View and had a nice trench in place. I took the West Peak Trail. It had two sets of post holing boot prints. The steps were about four sizes smaller than my boot size. They were also very crusty. I had a heck of a time stepping in them.

Whoever made them knew where the real trail was. The snow depth hid it otherwise. I very slowly crunched my way uphill. It is 230' of elevation gain to the top of West Peak. It took a while. I topped out then dropped a bit and climbed to the next bump. From there the route drops steeply and climbs steeply to the final bump. it then drops down to another junction. The main trail from the state park lot comes up here. Fifty feet to the left is the road that leads up to the Bullitt Fireplace. That was my next goal. It is not far away and I soon reached the fireplace. The picnic table there was three quarters buried with snow. The snow was deeper but I had a trench to walk in. I heard but did not see two hikers as I left. I headed on towards Central Peak. There was fresh snow in the trench but no footprints. I was the first here since the new snow.

A few steps headed off on the ridge top short cut to Central Peak. After the crappy frozen steps over West Peak I chose the longer route in the packed trench. I quickly came to a snowy tree across the trail. No way to get over it and I would  have to crawl under it. There was room to climb up to the right and get around. I kept dropping to the junction with the trail down to the north trailhead. I turned right and began the climb to Central Peak. The trees were really plastered along here. I stopped for many photos. Up by the peak there is a metal gate to go through at the start of this trail. It was mostly buried. At Central peak I took a short break. It was 11:09 am. The gap in the trees provided a nice view of downtown Seattle. Still pretty clear out.

I quickly headed down then back up to the Bullitt Fireplace. Down again to the junction with the trail down to the state park and the one over West Peak. On my first three visits I dropped down the south side to the Perimeter Trail and followed that around West Peak to Debby's View. With trails closed recently I did not know if the Perimeter Trail would be packed down. Instead of that plan I chose to drop down the road from the fireplace and then climb back up the Chybinski Loop Trail to the junction I reached before climbing over West Peak. From there is is not far to Debby's View on the end of the Perimeter Trail. That part to Debby's View would be packed down. The route went fine. A steep drop and a steep climb. The Chybinski Trail was packed down and easy walking. I was soon at Debby's View.

On my three previous visits I had minimal views from Debby's View. I have seen photos of Mt. Rainier from there but never seen it. This day was similar. Maybe even worse. As I arrived it began to snow. Much poorer views than from the lower viewpoint earlier. Oh well, I'll just have to come back again. Two hikers did arrive while I was at the viewpoint. Only the third group I had seen all day. I arrived at 12:03 pm. I saw those three parties over 3:45. Not exactly crowded for a hike that is right by Issaquah. Heading back I started to see other folks. Two parties on the way back to Margaret's Way Trail. Half a dozen other groups on the rest of the way down. I put on microspikes for the descent. I had great traction on the hard snow. I was half way down when the bare patches were long enough for me to take off the spikes.

I made one last detour to the lower viewpoint. Poorer views now and some snowfall but the clouds looked interesting. I made it back to the trailhead at 2:03 pm. Still pretty early in the day. I did see where I went wrong on the way up. I should have left the road on a trail section but went straight ahead on the road. A tree fell part way across the road. I went around it on the right. The trail sign was visible but I missed it going around the tree. The trail was definitely barer down low. Boots and above freezing temperatures did some melting.

I had a great time. Some views early in the day. Not many other folks for most of the day. The snow plastered trees were very scenic. I enjoyed the falling snow too. It was cool but not especially cold. The crusty frozen boot path over West Peak was the least enjoyable part but it was not that long. Soon the other close in trailheads should be reopened. It is very unusual for snow to hang around for over a week near sea level along Puget Sound. It has made it easy to get in snow hikes. In a few months the wildflowers will be out and I may return on a sunny day to finally see Debby's View.

Snow At Trailhead
Bare & Snowy
First Viewpoint
Narrow Trail
Middle Viewpoint
Blue Sky
More Snow Now
Smooth Trail
Crusty Post Holed Steps
West Peak
Steep Climb
Trail Sign
Road To Fireplace
Snowy Fireplace
Fresh Snow On Trail
Plastered Trees
Snow Weighted Trees
Junction Near Peak
Central Peak Towers
Snowy Gate
Downtown Seattle
Starting Down
One Side Plastered
Limbo Or Hurdle?
Packed Trench
Scenic Forest
Rounding West Peak
Debby's View Bench
What View?
Falling Snow
Log Trail Border
Back To Bare Trail
From White To Green
Nice Color
Turkey Tail Fungus
Tree Across Trail
More Moss
Back At Viewpoint
Bare Trail
Really Nice
Hanging Ferns
Snowy Road
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019