Squak Mountain hiking is a wonderful way to experience gorgeous forested trails near Seattle without the big crowds that many of the other nearby trails have. It’s also a perfect year round destination. It’s shady on hot summer days and shows off beautiful lush green forest on rainy days.
Squak Mountain doesn’t have any big views, which might explain why it’s less busy, but the forest is absolutely gorgeous. Here you can focus on the trees, the ferns, the berry bushes and the land itself while feeling a world away from the city. Margaret’s Way has a nice view of Tahoma (Mt Rainier) at the end, which is probably why it’s the busiest of these trails.
Parking Pass: Washington State Discover Pass at the May Valley Trailhead, None required at the Margaret’s Way Trailhead or the Bullit Fireplace Trailhead.
Dog Friendly: yes, on leash
Cell phone coverage: Good. There are a few dead spots but most Squak Mountain hiking has service
Restrooms: The May Valley Trailhead and Margaret’s Way trailhead have pit toilets. The Bullit Fireplace Trail does not have restrooms
Accessibility and Mobility: All of these trails have steep sections, but are well maintained. There are some roots to navigate (particularly on the Bullit Gorge Trail) but overall not too many obstacles. Be ready for mud in places. The Margaret’s Way Trailhead and the May Valley Trailhead have stops on the Trailhead Direct Bus.
Squak Mountain is located between Cougar Mountain and Tiger Mountain in Issaquah. The May Valley Trailhead is on the south side, the Margaret’s Way trail is located on the west side and the Bullit Fireplace trail is located on the north side.
When is the best time of year for Squak Mountain Hiking?
Squak Mountain hiking is perfect all year long. These hikes are all shady on hot days and are enjoyable on rainy days too. The lush green forest is there every day, all year, no matter the weather. In spring, the green colors are particularly eye popping!
Best Options for Squak Mountain Hiking
One of the fantastic things about Squak Mountain hiking is that there are lots of trails and lots of opportunity to make your own loops and route. Just make sure that you get back to the same trailhead where your car is or where your bus stop is. You can also do several different through hikes if you can get a ride or you have two cars with your group. Here are my four favorite routes for Squak Mountain hiking.
Highlights: A big selling point for Margaret’s Way is that it has a view at the end! You can also take the bus here. This is a beautiful forest trail and a good workout.
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Trailhead, Parking and Transit: The Margaret’s Way Trailhead is on State Route 900 between Renton and Issaquah. Google Maps will take you there. It is also served by the Trailhead Direct Bus on weekends during the summer.
May Valley Loop
Highlights: The May Valley Loop features a beautiful forest, lots of salmonberries in mid summer. A beautiful loop so you don’t repeat the same trail. This is also the least steep trail of the ones on this list
Distance: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
Trailhead, Parking and Transit: The trailhead is on May Valley Road between Issaquah and Renton. You need a Washington Discover Pass to park here. It is also served by the Trailhead Direct Bus on weekends in the summer.
Bullit Fireplace and Central Peak via the Bullit Fireplace Trail
Highlights: This is the quietest trail in my experience of all the Squak Mountain hiking I’ve done. It has a challenging climb to a radio tower tree covered summit. The Bullit Fireplace is all that remains of a home that was here, and it’s interesting to check out. There’s also a picnic table at the fireplace (fires are not allowed though). The trail is well marked, keep following the Bullit Fireplace trail at all intersections. To continue to Central Peak, keep going beyond the fireplace and follow the markers for Central Peak, then return the way you came.
Distance: 4.5 miles round trip (including going up to Central Peak past the fireplace)
Elevation Gain: 1300 feet (including going to Central Peak)
Trailhead, Parking and Transit: The trailhead is on a hairpin turn on a road in a residential neighborhood. From Front Street in Issaquah, turn right on Mountain Park Boulevard. Follow it as it steeply climbs through a neighborhood and then veer left on Mountainside Drive. You’ll see the trailhead at the first hairpin curve you come to on Mountainside Drive. Park well clear of the road on the shoulder. There is not transit access here.
Bullit Fireplace via the Bullit Gorge Trail
Highlights: You’ll get all the fun of the May Valley Loop and the Bullit Fireplace on this trail. You can also combine it with the May Valley Loop for a longer and even more challenging adventure. The Bullit Gorge Trail is steep and has a lot of roots. For this route, start on the May Valley Loop. When you reach the wooden fence that blocks horses from continuing up (May Valley Loop turns right here), you continue up! This is the Bullit Gorge Trail and will take you to up to the fireplace. You’ll be coming at it from the opposite side as the other trail described above.
Distance: 6 miles to the Bullit Fireplace and back (more if you add Central Peak or the rest of the May Valley Loop)
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet from May Valley Trailhead to Bullit Fireplace and back.
Trailhead, Parking and Transit:
The trailhead is on May Valley Road between Issaquah and Renton. You need a Washington Discover Pass to park here. It is also served by the Trailhead Direct Bus on weekends in the summer.
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!
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