If you haven’t been to Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, trust me, it is a beautiful place. With lots of hiking trails for every skill level, this is a great spot to get outside and away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
One of the special trails at Tiger Mountain is the Swamp Trail, designed just for kids and families. The special part about the trail is the story of Zoe and the Swamp Monster, which is told on storyboards along the way.
This trail is an easy trail to hike. It is mostly flat with only a few slight hills. It is a bark and dirt path that goes in a fairly straight line, through dense forest trees and fauna. You can look at tree stumps, moss on the sides of trees, ferns, caterpillars, and more as you walk through this natural wonderland. At first you can hear the freeway noise, but eventually you hear just the forest sounds, which is great.
The storyboards tell the tale of Zoe the raccoon as she ventures through the forest and meets other creatures. Zoe is convinced there is a swamp monster somewhere in the forest (spoiler alert: there is no swamp monster). The story was written as a class project by middle school students, and there are seven boards along the trail. The boards are easy to spot on the side of the trail, although it takes a little time to get to the first one. My daughter enjoyed following the path, searching for the next board.
A few things to note about the trail:
- Use the bathroom ahead of time if you can. There are vault toilets available, but they are not exactly pleasant to use.
- Most of the trail is in flat areas, but a few spots have slight drop-offs on one side. If a kid fell down the side, it would not cause serious damage, just some scratches and bruises, but it would be a little annoying climbing through the brush to retrieve your child. So if you have a less observant child, just be aware of this.
- Give yourself about 45 minutes to an hour for the actual hike. It is not a loop, so you get to the end and then need to backtrack. You can connect to another trail and go back, but with small children, this might turn the adventure into an ordeal.
- If the weather has been hot, don’t plan on seeing an actual swamp. In cooler weather, there should be some swamp.
- This hike is good in most weather, except maybe pouring rain.
- Not stroller or wheelchair friendly.
How to get there:
Heading east on I-90 from 405, take I-90 exit 20. At the end of the exit ramp, turn right, then right again onto the access road to Tiger Mountain.
Heading west on I-90, take exit 20 and turn left at the end of the ramp, go under the freeway, then turn right onto the access road to Tiger Mountain.
As you first come up the access road, you will see cars parked on the side of the road in the overflow parking area. DON’T park here. Keep driving up the gravel road until you get to a parking area.
Finding the trail:
Look for the sign where the gravel road to the parking area splits (to the left is the parking area). Take the road on the right and on your right will be a sign leading you to the Swamp Trail.
Swamp Trail at Tiger Mountain
More information: Swamp Trail on Tiger Mountain in the Seattle Times