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Squak \ Central Mountain

Posted by joeabbott on February 14, 2009

This trip started out as Hike 6 in Dan Nelson’s Day Hiking Snoqualmie Region book: Squak Mountain’s East Side Loop. Due to my lack of familiarity in the specifics, I overshot the trailhead. When I stopped and added the trailhead data for Hike 6 into my GPS, I ended up at a different trailhead. The details of that (the error in the book) are outlined here.

Anyhow, I was happy enough to be at the start to Hike 7: Phils Trail – Thrush Gap Loop, if a bit confused. Again, as detailed here, there are some problems with the start of this hike, too. And it doesn’t stop just getting to the trailhead.

The book says:

The trail leaves the parking area, heading west on the May Valley Trail and climbing quickly through mature second-growth forests of fir and hemlock.

Well, it could have been due to the trail maintenance taking place that weekend but I saw no specific signs or details on the May Valley Trail. I ended up doing a short loop on fairly flat ground that appeared to be both the target of the trail maintenance as well as a familykids nature hike. Lovely but distracting.

I ended up on the South Access maintenance road that, I’m assuming, is used to service the microwave station at the summit. I didn’t know what it was for at the time I headed up but it was clearly a heavy industries road I was on and not a trail at all. Resigned to not really knowing where I was but fairly sure I couldn’t go wrong staying on the maintenance road, I headed up.

The route up wasn’t terribly steep, significantly long, or challenging in any way and yet I found plenty of opportunity to sweat. I stripped off my Gore-Tex and just had a poly t-shirt and fleece vest on (along with nylon pants and my boots) and was chilled just enough. A couple places I saw a trail intersect the maintenance road but, without a proper map, I was never sure of the exact details and so I stayed on the road.

Within a couple miles I topped out and was greeted with no views at all except a microwave station. I took a couple snaps of it, enjoyed some water and nibbled something, and then headed down.

On the way off the top I chose to take one of the intersecting trails to the east. I believe it was Phils Connector Trail. Following that I took a short loop of about a mile through the trees before opting to strike back to the maintenance road and head back to the trailhead. Other trails abound here but I never had the confidence (without a map) to try them out. While my GPS would get me back to the lot, I didn’t have spare batteries and also wanted to be home early.


Nice place to visit and I dropped by REI to get the Green Trails map of the area (Issaquah Alps Series, Map 203S) so I could enjoy it more the next time I return. While I paid $9 for my copy, I see someone’s posted a low-res version online for free. If you plan on hiking, do yourself a favor and support the businesses that took the time and effort to create the map … buy a new one.


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