I have two main sightseeing priorities every time I select a hike: waterfalls and panoramic views. Of course, if you’re a regular reader of this website, you already know these are my weaknesses. Prior to hiking, I research possible trails to ensure the one I choose either has a waterfall or a panoramic view – because let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a waterfall or a view? Nobody I know or travel with. Kevin’s and my spontaneous hike up Tiger Mountain, centrally located in Issaquah, Washington, broke our traditional travel pattern.
Warning: if you’re looking for an easy day hike with a massive payoff, Tiger Mountain is not for you. The trek up to the summit is strenuous and the view is not…the absolute best the Seattle area has to offer. (A challenging hike with a rewarding view? Snow Lake, hands down).
Instead, I recommend Tiger Mountain for two different reasons: one, the scenery along the trail is amazing and two, reaching the top is a physical challenge I appreciated. Kevin and I hiked Tiger Mountain late on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon, and we had nearly the whole trail to ourselves.
Quiet and solitude? Yes, please! Especially in a rapidly growing region with a headache-inducing traffic problem.
Dense forests of green trees define the quintessentially Pacific Northwest landscape. Look at this peaceful trail! While hiking, I felt as though I were hours away from civilization, even though the city Tiger Mountain is located in – Issaquah – is home to an IHOP, Costco, Panera, Chipotle, and Target, among others.
Can you believe this is just a one hour drive from downtown Seattle? All you have to do is hop on I-90 East and drive until you reach exit 25 – making this a wonderful day hike from the city for both locals and tourists alike!
Although the climb to the top of Tiger Mountain is strenuous – I recommend packing two bottles of water per hiker; you’ll need to hydrate often on this hike – the sheer joy of reaching the top alone made it all worthwhile. My legs cramping and my stomach growling for some dinner, I sat down on a log at the summit and took in the sliver of the valley visible from the top.
Plan to spend about three to four hours hiking Tiger Mountain; I wouldn’t recommend Tiger Mountain to the casual hiker due to the rather strenuous climb to the top. This is for mountain junkies like myself – you know who you are. I’ve always loved the mountains; growing up in New England, I looked forward to our annual jaunts to New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Unsurprisingly, I love the hiking opportunities in the Seattle area.
In order to hike Tiger Mountain, you’ll need a Discover Pass – depending on the length of your visit and how much hiking you plan on doing, you can opt for either the day pass ($11) or the annual pass ($33). Simply purchase your pass here, print it out, and go!
As I noted above, Tiger Mountain may feel isolated, but it sits on the outskirts of bustling Issaquah, a rapidly growing suburb of Seattle home to any restaurant or type of food one can imagine. Finding sustenance after your hike should be no problem at all. Even so, cell service on Tiger Mountain is spotty, so know your route ahead of time and, if climbing alone, let someone else know of your hiking plans.
Looking for an easy hike in the region instead? My recommendation is Franklin Falls, a relatively flat stroll leading to a spectacular waterfall – this hike is perfect for travelers of all abilities and for young children!