Savvy Tips and tricks learned along the way...
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Sky Country Trailhead
Bring a copy of the Cougar Mountain trail map!This is my third hike around Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. I parked at the Sky Country Trailhead parking lot. Last time (Big Tree Ridge Trail), I got pretty lost on Cougar Mountain because of all the twisting turning network of trails that run through the park. Fool me once! This time I came prepared with a Cougar Mountain Trail map put out by King County Parks, which I downloaded online. I had a general game plan for my hike today. But the most important thing was to keep my bearings, constantly review my map, and pay close attention to the trail signs.
I would say I had great sucess today in navigating myself around Cougar Mountain. I went around as far as I wanted to and looped back when I was ready to. Not too many surprises or worrying about getting lost. This is the beauty of Cougar Mountain. You can hike as long as you want, and you can loop around instead of just taking the same trail back. It makes it a lot more interesting than other hikes that are just one way out and one way back.
The Sky Country Trailhead is located near a residential area. So I'm sure a lot of "locals" hike there all the time. They must have the trails mapped out in their heads. But there were a few people I saw who also came prepared with their trail maps and stopped to read each trail sign carefully. We are the Cougar Mountain rookies. Having access to this beautifully wooded hiking area, I am determined to get to know these trails better. I think I could really enjoy creating my own hiking loops based on my alotted time. Long hikes that are far away and take all day are harder for me, being a mother of two young children.
This trail, as with most of Cougar Mountain, is lightly trafficked. There were mostly couples and quite a few dog walkers. Our little springer enjoyed meeting and greating all the different sorts of doggie friends on the trail.
Enjoy a little history of the areaNever having been much of a history buff in the past, I have come to appreciate it my "older" years. There were some interesting historical points in the trail. The first part of the trail was covered in cement. That must've been the launching pad of the Army's Nike missle site on Cougar Mountain from back in the 50's. Weird to think that there was a missle launching site just next door.
There was also Red Town Dam, and some facts about it posted nearby. One of the trails that I took along the way is called Military Road Trail. There is post with historical facts about Military Road, which was the one of the first roads in King County, dating back to the days of the European settlers.
Kids and their KedsDuring my hike, I was also taking note of the trail grade and conditions. Our daughter sometimes joins me for hikes. But since she no longer has hiking boots or shoes with any tread on them, I am on the lookout for trails that are Keds-friendly. This loop that I hiked today was borderline Ked-friendly. The elevation change wasn't too severe and lots of the trail was relatively flat.
So I would say it is do-able with Keds. Most people I came across on the trail were wearing running shoes, which have more tread than Keds, which have none whatsoever. If someday she decides to hike more often, I'll get her some decent shoes for the task. Right now, she doesn't get more than a couple of hikes in until she grows out of her shoes.
Be Adventurous!On Cougar Mountain every hike can be different from the last. Even if you park at the same trailhead every time, you take different trails, creating your own loops and going out as far or as little as you like. I decided I would find a system of trails that created a loop back to the parking lot. But, as a spur of the moment thing, and because I still had lots of time and energy, I did take a little detour down to Coal Creek Falls, which was totally dried out this time of year, with almost no rain this summer. That made the trip a little longer, but it was worth it. It is a nice, though a little more challenging, hike to and back from the falls. I worked up a sweat and got my heart rate up, which was awesome.
The whole hike took me about 2 hours from start to finish. It might be a bit much for our 7yo daughter. Perhaps if I bring her next time, I can design a shorter trail loop that she can do without too much fatigue.
To get there, I just entered Sky Country Trailhead into Google Maps, and it navigated me right there. There is a large parking lot for many visitors. But, at least for now, the parking lot is far from being full. Even for a weekend, especially compared to other popular hiking places along I-90, this trailhead doesn't get much traffic. Which is another reason to love Cougar Mountain. Maybe it is mostly just "locals" that hike that park. But for a quiet peaceful setting that is not too far away, it is a great place to hike.
Slideshow of my hike from Sky Country Trailhead
Hiking Haute CoutureFor the hike today, I was so excited to wear my new workout leggings with pockets that my husband got for me online. They were perfect for the hike. The day started out a bit chilly, so it was nice to have long pants on. These pants have pockets on each side that can fit my Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge. It is so nice to have these large pockets while I'm hiking. On one side, the pocket held my cell phone, which I used frequently to take pictures during the hike. The other pocket held my trail map, which I used frequently as well.
Long ago, I used to wear big baggy cargo-type pants made out of parachute-type material with the zipper at the knee to covert the pants to shorts. I still have some, but I feel a little dorky wearing those now. Did that style go out a long time ago? I don't see people wearing that hiking anymore. I mostly just see ladies wearing workout leggings these days.
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