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Hidden Forest Trail

Issaquah Alps

Location

Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain
View map below

Length

7.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2650 ft.
Highest Point: 2340 ft.

Rating

3.67 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

Hike a short, steep little-used trail deep within the Tigers. In winter, descend past ghostly leafless trees. In summer, appreciate areas of exuberant moss and greenery. And, with luck, you might have the trail all to yourself.

The Hidden Forest Trail is one of Tiger Mountain's more remote, internal trails so it offers no trailheads you can drive to. The lower end is along the West Side Road (Road 1000) and the upper end is along the Main Tiger Mountain Road (Road 4000.) These roads generally are gated, open to motor vehicle use only by technicians servicing electronic gear, or by occasional authorized shuttle vans transporting paragliders to the Poo Poo Point launch areas. So your hike on the Hidden Forest Trail needs to be part of a longer loop. One option, perhaps the shortest, is described here. For other possibilities, consult the Green Trails Map for the area.

As with any loop, your hike could be done in either direction. But the Hidden Forest Trail is just over one mile in length with an elevation gain of 960 feet, so it has some very steep sections. Accordingly, you might enjoy this segment of your loop hike more if it is done from north to south, when it's mostly downhill. Also, the views may seem better when hiking in that direction. By whatever route, your loop hike will involve some elevation changes that are significant.

Begin your hike at the paraglider landing field along Issaquah-Hobart Road. Be alert for any paragliders that might be coasting in quietly to land, then walk across the field to the signed beginning of the Chirico Trail to Poo Poo Point. (The odd name is a reference to the sounds of loggers' steam whistles heard here over a century ago.)

Appreciate the picturesque quality of the lower part of the Chirico Trail as it traverses steeply across a hillside on stone steps. Then continue on, with a few switchbacks, to reach the grassy top of Poo Poo Point's South Launch Area. Pause here to catch your breath since you have come up 1,500 feet from the trailhead, and appreciate the view of Mount Rainier to the south, clouds permitting.

To the right of an old signboard, note a forest road turn-around. That road will provide the return route for your loop hike. For now, continue on the trail to the left of the signboard to reach Poo Poo Point's North Launch Area. Pause there to enjoy the views to the northwest that may include the Olympics and Mount Baker, again if clouds permit. If your timing is right you may see a few paragliders launching into the sky.

To continue, hike past the pit toilet and locate the signed Poo Poo Point Trail that arrives here from the vicinity of Issaquah High School. Continue on that trail about a half-mile, first dropping a little then climbing about 200 feet to reach a former railroad grade and a signed trail junction. At the junction, take a right turn onto the One View Trail.

The One View Trail climbs about 300 feet before dropping into lonely Fifteen Mile Gap (a drainage boundary between Fifteen Mile Creek and Gleason Creek.) Beyond the gap, climb a few feet more and reach the main Tiger Mountain Trail, the TMT.

Turn right on the TMT and follow it just 0.1 mile to reach Larry's Crossing where you'll encounter the Hidden Forest Trail. Here, you have a choice. To your left, the Hidden Forest Trail climbs an additional 150 feet and, in about a quarter mile, reaches its upper end at Road 4000. If your ambition is to experience the entire Hidden Forest Trail you will need to hike this short upper segment first, then turn around and return to the TMT before descending the longer, lower segment to reach Road 1000.

If you opt to include the upper part of the Hidden Forest Trail in your hike, go for it. The sign along the TMT indicates it's 0.3 miles up to Road 4000. But, when you get to Road 4000, note the sign there claims it's only 0.2 miles back to the TMT. This is not really a contradiction. Hikers know that distances often are shorter when hiking downhill!

While the Hidden Forest Trail does end at Road 4000 the route actually continues on, but with a different name. Across the road it becomes the Poo Top Trail and leads another 0.7 miles, with 600 feet additional elevation gain, to reach the West Tiger 1 summit. That's a possible extension for your hike, if your time and enthusiasm allow. Otherwise, turn around at Road 4000, descend past the TMT and continue down the Hidden Forest Trail.

About 0.2 miles below the TMT note a junction with an obvious but unsigned trail on your left. It's the Fifteen Mile RR Grade that rejoins the TMT 1.5 miles east, near Custer's Bridge. You might consult your map and keep that little-used, sometimes-overgrown trail in mind for a future exploratory hike.

If you are hiking in winter you may catch occasional glimpses of Mount Rainier though the trees, but once trees leaf out in the spring those views will disappear.

The forest here on the south side of West Tiger Mountain initially is more open than you may have seen elsewhere in the Tigers. And, because the Hidden Forest Trail descends nearly 1,000 feet, there is considerable variation along the way. In winter, some of the leafless deciduous trees have a ghostly quality. As you continue on downward you will encounter a few trees with very mossy trunks. In summer, when all the plants in the understory are leafed out, the growth can be very exuberant.

Lower down on the trail, as you approach Road 1000, the trees become larger and conifers begin to dominate. You will reach the road rather abruptly, next to a small seasonal stream.

To begin your return, hike the graveled Road 1000 west 1.25 miles, gaining about 400 feet before the road levels out. You are unlikely to see many vehicles, perhaps none at all, but mountain bikers are a definite possibility.

Come to an obvious fork in the road where both branches are graveled and show signs of regular use. These lead to the two launch areas at Poo Poo Point. Unless you want to revisit the North Launch Area, take the left fork and soon you will arrive back at the familiar South Launch Area. From there, descend the Chirico Trail back to your trailhead.

 

Hidden Forest Trail

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.5000, -122.0218 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain

Hidden Forest Trail (#TIGER)

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

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Getting There

From I-90 in Issaquah take Exit 17 (Front Street) and head south on Front Street through the old part of town. At the south end of town, Front Street changes names to Issaquah-Hobart Road. At 3.1 miles from I-90 turn into the large graveled parking area on the left adjacent to the paraglider landing field. In 2014, a center turn lane was added making turns much easier.

Portable toilets may be available at the south end of the parking area. There is no regular source of water here. This side of the field is King County land, and it is not necessary to display a Discover Pass. There is no posted time limit.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Hidden Forest Trail

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