De Leo Wall - Coal Creek Falls Loop
Hike of the Week:
April 14, 2008
Location: Cougar Mountain Regional Park
Distance: about 5 miles r.t.
Elevation: 1000' or so up & down
Maps: Green Trails Cougar Mtn #203S or King County DNR map at trailhead
At more than 3000 acres, Cougar Mountain Regional Park is the largest in King County's Issaquah Alps system - and it is among the wildest. It also offers more than 36 miles of trails, which makes it a great destination for hikers in the Seattle area who want to get out for a quick hike.
In addition, Cougar Mountain Park is awash in history - the Duwamish Indians traveled through this area for years. Coal, discovered in 1863, was mined until 1926; on occasion, you can still spot chunks along Coal Creek. And Anti-Aircraft Peak was not named by a Boeing engineer, but was in fact a manned military post from World War II through the Cold War.
You can literally do dozens of loop hikes within Cougar Mountain Park. The trails are well marked, but there are so many of them that you will want to bring along a map. Usually, there are copies available at the trailhead, but you can also print out your own from home at King County Park's website.
This particular loop is featured in WTA magazine editor Andrew Engelson's Trip Report for April 13, 2008. He recommends starting at the Red Town Trailhead and going up the Wildside (W1) trail until it reaches the De Leo Trail (W9). This takes you up a ridge to a viewpoint of the suburbs with wonderful madrona trees hanging over you. Backtracking, you branch off at the Indian Trail (W7) and connect up to the Quarry Trail (C6). Then you hang a left to Coal Creek Falls on C4 and return to the trailhead via C3 and N2.
Sounds complicated, but between the map and the excellent signage in the park, it isn't too confusing. And if you miss a turn off, you can try any number of other loops to get you back home.
The rewards for this trail are many: walking along babbling Coal Creek; admiring spring wildflowers (trillium, violet, red currant, and the bleeding hearts soon); absorbing local history; and viewing a popular waterfall nearing its spring peak.
For More Information:
King County DNR (206.296.8687) has excellent printable maps of Cougar Mountain Regional Park. Print one out before you go and plot out your route. A comprehensive guide and map to Cougar Mountain is also published by the Issaquah Alps Trails Club. The two main parts of this loop are also written up in Day Hiking Snoqualmie Pass by Dan Nelson & Alan Bauer (Mountaineers Books). Also, check WTA's Hiking Guide and Trip Reports.
To reach the Red Town Trailhead from I-90, take exit 13, drive south uphill on Lakemont Boulevard SE for 3.1 miles. The Red Town Trailhead will be on the left side.
From I-405, take exit 10 and follow Coal Creek Parkway SE 2.4 miles to the shopping center. Turn left at the light onto SE 72nd Place and then left again at Newcastle-Coal Creek Road. Follow Newcastle-Coal Creek Road for 1.9 miles. The Red Town Trailhead will be on the right side of the road.
You can also bus or bike to the trailhead! Read about the experience and details on Andrew's Signpost Blog.