Cougar Mountain

Wilderness Creek Trailhead
Last summer Susan and I took a day off a work each month to explore trails in the Columbia Gorge and around Mt Hood. Normally on the weekends we stick close to home in Forest Park, so we have more time with friends, family and to take care of other weekend obligations. By taking a day off to do a run in the middle of the week we don't have to worry about any of this, plus there is a lot less traffic on the trails and you feel like you have the whole place to yourself.

Ever since noticing the Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series last year in Seattle at The North Face store, I have been wanting to check out the trails on Cougar Mountain. Luckily my sister lives in Seattle and I visit quite a bit, but she is not a trail runner (yet) and I don't want to go visit and take off for a better part of a day to trail run and not spend time with her. I am not sure why it hasn't occurred to before that I should go up a day early, take the day off and go trail running while she is at work. Well luckily it did occur to me before last weekend, because that is exactly what I did.

I wanted to run at least 15 miles, since I hadn't run more than 13 miles by myself and mentally I needed to prove to myself I can do longer distances solo. I based my run on the 13 mile race route for the Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series, but I started out at the Wilderness Creek trailhead which added about a mile on to the run.  I figured I could add another mile on somewhere.

Bridge over Wilderness Creek

The trail climbed from the parking lot past a creek and through a heavily forested area to the highest point on Cougar Mountain. At this point I somehow took a wrong turn and headed down a very steep and unmaintained trail, I really tried to use my downhill running skills I learned in our running class that week, but it wasn't working. The trail eventually dead ended into a maintained trail, but there weren't any signs so I took an educated guess and turned right. I started to climb uphill again, which I was pretty sure I wasn't supposed to do, but I kept going. I also kept thinking to myself, "I better not be climbing up the same effing mountain again". I finally got to the top, and of course it was the highest point on Cougar Mountain, again. Well there is that extra mile plus I needed.  At that point I pulled out my map and was trying to figure out where I went wrong, when I guy I passed in the parking lot came hiking over and pointed me in the right direction.

"Sign in" book at the top of the hill. I should've signed it twice.

Luckily the rest of the run I stayed on course for the most part. The trails are very well marked, and each of them are pretty short, so you know pretty quickly if you are going the wrong direction. There weren't anymore big climbs after the first two, just a bunch of nice rolling hills. It was typical Seattle/NW weather when I ran, so I don't know if there are any views to speak of, but the trails are really nice and the forest is beautiful.

I am looking forward to taking more days off to explore the trails around Seattle, hopefully Susan will get to join me on a few of them.

Cougar Mountain trail map


Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...
This is actually pretty neat, King County Fitness Challenge

I forgot my vegan picnic, or this would've made the perfect place to take a break.

More bridges! 

Trail art or a trail cairn?

Well marked trails. 

Beware of shy bears. 



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