This 8 mile loop begins and ends in the heart of Issaquah. In the language of the native tribes, Ishquowh means "sound of water birds." The raspy name of this mountain comes from the calls of the herons that migrate through this area in the spring and fall.
From the parking area at the Issaquah Trail Center, head east on Bush Street to the junction with Front Street. Cross at the light and turn south onto Newport Way. Follow Newport Way as it crosses Issaquah Creek, then continue south on Wildwood Boulevard as it climbs out of town, turning to gravel (on the left) as it follows the creek up a gentle slope. When you reach the old Issaquah Creek Dam, you'll find a paved trail winding past some apartments and condominiums. Hiking quickly, you will get past these buildings in just a few minutes and soon reach the Squak Mountain Access trailhead on the left side of the street, about 1 mile from your starting point. There is very limited parking here, for those that can't or won't make the hike through town.
The Access trail is a few yards down the street from the condo trail. Once on the trail, you are instantly in woods. First, you hike about a mile, crossing two creeks, until you reach the first junction at 600 feet elevation.
At this first junction, take the right hand trail, the East Ridge Trail, heading up toward Central Peak. This is a good hard pull up to the peak, fairly steep with a lot of switchbacks. After a mile and a half on this trail, at about 1400 feet, you will reach a junction with the East Side Trail to your right going fairly level or the continuation of the East Ridge Trail to your left and up. For a loop, you can choose either one and take the other coming down.
If you keep going up the ridge, hike along to the next junction with Phil's Creek, at about half a mile. Stay right on what is now briefly part of Phil's Creek trail, and after a very short time (.1 mile or so) you will reach another junction with Phil's Creek to your right, and Summit Trail to your left.
To go straight up to the summit, take the left. This is a steep trail, but a lovely one. Come out onto paved road, the South Access Road, which is closed to the public for driving, but hikers often use it. Uphill and to your right a very short distance up the road is the Central Peak, as one hiker says, "Well, it is certainly towerful". There are tiny peekaboo views between trees along the road and at the peak.
Stay to the left of the towers and the Central Peak Trail heads down and to the west through a gate meant to bar horses and bikes, on a fairly gentle grade. Almost immediately you come to a junction with the Old Griz Trail. You can make the small or medium size loops by taking this down to either the Phil's Creek Trail for the small loop, 8.5 mi roundtrip. Or take the East Side trail for the medium loop, a little over 9 mi round trip.
For a longer loop, about 10 miles round trip, continue down Central Peak, staying right at the junction with the Bullitt Fireplace Trail, then about a half mile to the next junction with the Fireplace trail as that bends to meet you. Turn right, then right again after .2 mi at the junction with the East Side Trail, which runs mostly level. Stay on this trail past the junction with Old Griz at about .8 miles, then take the left-most trail at the junction with the East Ridge trail after another mile. You can also make a loop by taking the Bullitt fireplace trail. Be sure and bring a map - all those junctions can be confusing!
In all cases, you will return the last 2.5 miles down the East Ridge and out the Access trail, passing the condos the same way you came in. If you park at the Sunrise Place by the Access Trail entrance, all mileage counts will be less by about 2 miles.
Squak Mountain's East Side Loop
- 8.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 1700 feet
- Highest Point
- 2025 feet
Hiking Squak Mountain's East Side Loop
Squak Mountain's East Side Loop
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.5284, -122.0363 Open in Google Maps