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A Victory for Native Plants (Echo/Cedar Mountain) — May 2000

You can call it Echo Mountain as the Issaquah Alps Trails Club does or Cedar Mountain as some maps do. Either way, the rocky bald at the top is a haven for a remarkable assemblage of native plants. I've been working with local residents and King County for several years to put in place a trail that allows pedestrian access on an appropriate route while prohibiting bikers, horses and pets. The soils are thin and the mosses are lightly attached to the steep rock surfaces. As a result, the habitats can only tolerate limited traffic on designated routes.

In March 2000 the Washington Trails Association constructed a new, low-impact trail to the summit. What a dedicated and competent group they are! Signs are in place to limit the trail to hikers only and a full paragraph metal sign complete with chocolate lily graphic explains the importance of the habitat to native plants. County parks personnel who persisted until we got it right include Deb Snyder, current WNPS Plant Steward); Don Harig, in charge of park maintenance; and Bobbi Wallace, maintenance manager for King County Parks. We appreciate their understanding and their work.

In late April a fine assortment of plants should be in bloom. Chocolate lilies (Fritillaria affinis), deer's tongue (Erythronium oregonum), two species of wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca and virginiana), native self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) underneath a blanket of serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia); and growing on the steep, seepy, mossy rock faces two species of monkey flower (Mimulus guttatus and alsinoides), goldback fern (Pentagramma triangularis), maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), and Wallace's selaginella (Selaginella wallacei). Later in May the mountaintop turns pink with sea blush (Plectritis congesta) and in June a big bloom of fool's onion (Triteleia hyacinthina). On the 1 mile trail to the summit look for slender toothwort (Cardamine nuttallii) and sweet cicely (Osmorhiza chilensis), along with a full complement of our lowland forest species. On the return you can take a trailless route to a nice bog/fen complex with Sphagnum spp., bog laurel (Kalmia occidentalis), Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum), wild cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos), and of course some fine Carices.

The area is an undeveloped King County Park called Spring Lake/Lake Desire Park (Spring Lake is called Otter Lake on some maps). It is just south of the Cedar River in the Renton/Kent area. Take the Maple Valley Highway to 196th Avenue. Turn right (i.e., south) and travel about a mile. Turn right on SE 183nd and follow the road counter-clockwise around Spring Lake. Park at the road end. Follow the obvious trail that angles to the right and up; turn right (uphill) when the trail intersects the maintenance access road. Take the Peak Trail to the summit at about 800 feet above sea level.



Updated: July 3, 2016
Copyright 2000-2017 Washington Native Plant Society. All rights reserved.

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