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Phil's Creek Trail - Squak Mountain, Issaquah — March 2011

By Brenda Senturia

The Phil's Creek Trail is one of a number of trails recently opened in Squak Mountain State Park from a new trailhead. As of this writing, this is a place you can find solitude, in contrast to many of the trails on Tiger Mountain nearby.

Begin by taking the signed hiking trail from the parking lot for about 100 yards. It comes to a gravel road, which can be walked all the way up to Central Peak. However, for hiking, take this road uphill for about 1/2 mile to the Equestrian Loop Trail (S4). Make a loop (1.4 miles) on this trail, keeping right at intersections, except where there is a private property boundary or a 'closed' trail. The dominant conifer is Western Hemlock with scattered Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir with a lush understory of Sword Fern, Red Elderberry, Salal and Oregon Grape.

The trail crosses a footbridge where Maidenhair and Wood Ferns can be found. The trail ascends and meanders through second growth (mixed deciduous and coniferous). When you reach the outermost section of the loop, stop by a house for a rare view of the surrounding mountains. Continue around the loop, crossing a stream (no bridge, but easy) and heading uphill through a section of trail damaged by erosion, eventually reaching the junction of Phil's Creek Trail (S3). Youth-on-age and Dewberry are dominant plants in the understory. Yes, horses are allowed on the Equestrian Trail, but, as of this writing, the condition wasn't horrendous, as it is when hiking on some equestrian trails.

At the junction with the Phil's Creek Trail, there is a signed cutoff back to the gravel road. To continue, take Phil's Creek trail which begins in rather muddy fashion, but quickly improves. The canopy becomes more open - dominated by deciduous trees - and follows a valley toward a divide. To reach the trailhead, take I-90 east to Exit 15 (Route 900, Issaquah). Stay right after exiting and head south through Issaquah along the Renton-Issaquah Rd. for about 4 miles to SE May Valley Road. Turn left on SE May Valley Road. for about 2.4 miles, watching for signs indicating a left turn into the parking area.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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