Cougar Mountain

It’s weird to keep hearing about the “dangerous and crippling Snowmageddon blizzard” headed to Northeastern US when it’s been sunny and in the 60’s here in Seattle. Wanting to take advantage of the ridiculously nice winter weather, Nick and I went for a hike on Cougar Mountain on Sunday.

Cougar Mountain - Coal Creek Falls

Coal Creek Falls

Our* Cougar Mountain hike statistics:

  • Roundtrip: 5.96 miles
  • Elevation gain: 759 feet
  • Highest point: 1503 feet

* I specifically said our hike because Cougar Mountain has a lot of different trails, so you can decide how long/difficult you want your hike to be.

Although it’s only half an hour away, neither of us had been to Cougar Mountain before. It used to be a busy spot for coal mining from 1863 to 1963, so there are cave holes alongside the trails.


We got to Red Town Trailhead at about 11am and the parking lot was already a chaotic mess. There was nowhere to park and a line of cars waiting for a spot. Street parking wasn’t even an option because there were ditches on the sides of the road. How frustrating!

Thankfully, Cougar Mountain has other trailheads, so we headed to Sky Country Trailhead instead. The parking lot there was divided into a section for cars and a section for horse trailers. The car parking was full, but we found a spot by the horse trailer parking.

Finding a place to park is such a headache when hiking in the Seattle area. Uff da!

The Hike

Our original plan was to do the Coal Creek Falls hike (2.5 miles), but since we changed trailheads, we decided we’d just wing it and do our own thing and head back to the car when we got tired. That turned into a fun 6 mile hike for us!

I had printed a map of Cougar Mountain before we left and between that and the helpful signs at every junction, we had no problem finding our way around.

We started by heading to Coal Creek Falls, which was a quick and easy hike from our trailhead. The falls are only 28 feet high, so more like Cherry Creek Falls than Wallace Falls. I read that the falls even dry up in the summer, so this is the best time of year to see them.

Cougar Mountain - Coal Creek Falls

Coal Creek Falls

Along the trail, we saw a few places were there were TONS of spiderwebs in the branches. I HATE spiders, but even I have to admit they looked neat covered in dew and lit up by the sun.

Cougar Mountain - Spiderweb


Cougar Mountain - Spiderwebs

Lots of spiderwebs

Another point of interest we saw was a grate-covered mine shaft. It was hard to get a good picture of it, though. A little further down the trail, we came to a large, open clay pit, which had a decent view. After that, we took a slightly indirect route back to the parking lot and headed home.

Cougar Mountain - Mine shaft

Mine shaft

Cougar Mountain - Clay pit

Clay pit

Overall, we really liked our Cougar Mountain hike and especially how close it is. We mostly stuck to the central trails, so we still have the northern and southern trails to explore. The trails were well marked and maintained, but they were pretty muddy in some spots. It wasn’t terribly difficult hiking, but it’s definitely a place we’ll come back to!

Categories: Hiking, Outing, Park | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.