Squak Medium Loop

Kim was free for a hike. I suggested a trip we did two years ago on Squak Mountain. Seven miles with 1800' would be a good workout with a short drive. The 520 bridge was closed for the weekend so we met at 7:30 to get an early start on I-90. It looked like we would have rain after noon but that was better than all day rain in many places. We arrived at the Squak Mountain State Park lot at 8:20 am. The lot was about 1/3 full. We were on our way at 8:30 am. We took the trail over to the gravel road up Central Peak and crossed to get on the Pretzel Tree Loop. This adds a little extra mileage and a view of the Pretzel Tree. We managed to go past the tree before realizing our error. We backtracked for a view of the Pretzel Tree. At the end of the loop we went back on the road for a minute and then onto the main trail. This trail climbs steadily at a moderate grade. It is smooth and easy to hike. We were out of season for wildflowers, mushrooms, and fall colors. Instead, we just had a very green forest. There is a lot of moss on trees. At about .50 miles we reached a junction. We went left and our big loop would bring us back to the right hand trail later in the day.

At this elevation we saw flowering trees. I think Kim mentioned flowering plum. We saw a group with dogs coming down. Then a guy with a dog passed us going up. All day long we saw almost as many dogs as people. Maybe more dogs per person than ever before. This continued all the way around our loop. The mossy trees were objects of photo stops much of the day, especially on the way up. We passed the trail to Debbie's View and entered the clouds. It was misty until we descended below this elevation. The upper end of the Bullitt Gorge Trail reached the road that goes up to the Bullitt Fireplace. We turned right and ascended the road. We reached the fireplace at 10:55 am. It was very moist in the cloud but so far we had no rain. It was time for a brunch break. A couple arrived with several dogs. One was a foster dog. On this same trip two years ago, we met a couple at the fireplace with a foster dog. That is a strange coincidence. Two other hikers soon arrived. These guys came up our route. One guy had some soreness in his leg and we talked about the easiest route back to the trailhead. They decided to follow us over to Central Peak and go down the gravel road.

We took the ridge route over to Central Peak. The old boot path is getting to be a nice wide trail. There were some signs of recent trail work. At the other end of the trail we turned right and went up to the top of Central Peak. This is the highest point on Squak Mountain. After more talk, they guys headed down and we dropped down the road to the Old Griz Trail. This is one of our favorite trails on Squak Mountain. It descends through a beautiful forest to Phil's Creek Trail. Along the way we dropped out of the clouds. The overcast brought out some great colors along the way. There are also some big trees here. At the Phil's Creek Trail junction, we turned right. The trail is mostly flat with some easy ups and downs. Kim noticed a huge display of fruiting frogs pelt fungus. It went right up the hillside. There was also a metal box on a tree that might have been a critter cam or a trail counter. We saw another one lower down. On the way down we would see someone every 15-25 minutes. Otherwise, it was very quiet on the trail. These trails are much less used than the trail we ascended.

We passed the short and very steep summit trail and the East Ridge Trail I often ascend from Sunrise Place. The trail moves more out of the forest up above Phil's Creek. There was some very colorful moss here. Eventually, the trail turns sharply left and crosses the creek on a big bridge. The brush is so thick that you can only see the creek when all the leaves are off. Today I could see it. The grade continues gently downhill in forest. This is more lonesome hiking. We passed the bench at a switchback and dropped down in a series of switchbacks. After the trail levels off there is another junction. I have always gone left on the May Valley Loop. The right trail is a short cut that meets the other trail in .20 miles, cutting off .20 miles. When they rejoin, it is not far to the bridge crossing Phil's Creek. At the bridge we met a group training some dogs. We passed by and climbed our of the creek drainage. The trail continues to the main road and crosses it. We were now not far from completing our loop. We did so with about .50 miles to go.

The last part went by quickly. Rather than the expected afternoon rain it was beginning to lighten up a little. We carried rain gear and umbrellas and never needed them. We arrived back at the trailhead at 2:28 pm. The lot was almost filled though there were still open spots on grass near the entrance. Though the 520 bridge was closed all weekend, we had not trouble getting back into Seattle. I took the tunnel to avoid a slowdown getting onto I-5.

This turned out to be a great choice for a hike this day. We avoided the rain that fell all around us. We saw people and especially dogs off and on all day but it was never crowded. The moss was really colorful. Hiking with Kim meant we saw a lot of smaller things like frog pelt fungus and turkey tail fungus. Our pace was slow but the drive was short and we still were home by mid afternoon. This route has a lot to offer in certain seasons but is still very worthwhile even in winter.

Kim & Mossy Arch
Pretzel Tree
Mossy Rock
Mossy Trees
Framed Kim
Really Mossy Green
Nice Colors
Brown Trail & Green
Turkey Tail Fungus
More Arches
Plastered Leaves
Into The Clouds
Leaves & Drops
Bullitt Fireplace
Rotting Tree
Frog Pelt Fungus
Phil's Creek Trail
Lots Of Green
More Turkey Tails
Licorice Ferns
A Very Green Rock
Twin Cedars
More Licorice Ferns
More Moss
Log & Arch
One Tree Flower
Another Tree Flower
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2024