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Squak Mountain—The C3 Valley Connector Trail — June 2008

By Erin Meier

It is easy to get confused as to your exact location on Squak Mountain, but on a sunny spring day, well worth laying aside such pretensions, and simply enjoying the mountain. I especially enjoyed this walk for the many fine examples of native shrubs in the moist, boggy woodland which these trails move through. For those of you interested in reaching a specific destination, I found an excellent map of the park online at www.switchbacks.com, created by Mr. Jon F. Stanley.

My friends and I started out at the main trailhead parking lot and immediately ran into a short children’s trail with charming story signs. We veered to the right and stumbled upon the S4 Equestrian Loop Trail. Beginning this trail I believe the best view is straight above you. Maples crouch below the Douglas fir trees, and you must look up to appreciate the sky and the sunlight as it gleams through the mosses draping them. Look down and you will see a wonderful collection of familiar woodland species such as Mahonia nervosa, Gaultheria shallon and Polystichum munitum.

At the first Y in the trail we went left and started up the C3 Valley Connector trail. Typical of the Pacific Northwest this forest has a lush growth pattern. Growing near a nurse log, I found one of my favorite native shrubs in flower, the Ribes lacustre. With its prickly stems, gleaming maple-shaped leaves, and drooping clusters of miniature maroon-colored flowers it is well worth close observation.

If you are fond of wildflowers you will appreciate the presence of Dicentra formosa in abundance, as well as the few Trillium ovatum and Viola glabella which grow beside this trail. At one bridge we even found a large stand of Rubus spectabalis in bloom. As we climbed higher and the lush growth fell away, we were thrilled to find a small bog just to the right of the trail. There were quite a few Lysichiton americanum perfuming the air with their distinct odor. We turned back near the West Peak Trail, but if you wished to continue there are many more fine trails in this park.

Driving Directions: From I-90 take Exit 17, toward E Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE. Take the Front Street ramp toward the City Center. Turn a slight right onto Front Street, which eventually becomes Issaquah Hobart Rd SE. Turn right on SE May Valley Rd. A little way beyond 218th you will see the sign for the parking lot on your right.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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