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Hiking Cougar Mountain

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is the gem of King County’s park system. Close to Bellevue, Renton, Newcastle and Issaquah, Cougar Mountain Park provides a variety of trails and experiences. Located in the “Issaquah Alps,” Cougar Mountain Park preserves important wildlife habitat while offering ample opportunities for recreation. The park covers 3,100 acres and features diverse habitats, including mature second growth forests; streams and wetlands; and cliffs, talus and caves. Included in the park are former Nike missile sites that were active in the 1950s and early 1960s to protect the region from potential air attacks. More information on the park, including directions to trailheads, can be found at kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/inventory/cougar.aspx.

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Photo by Lisa Dunham

A pond along the trail provides a good spot to rest and enjoy the wildlife, including ducks. Cougar Mountain Park also has several marshes, creeks and waterfalls along its trails.

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Photo by Lisa Dunham

Hikers pick their way across a not-quite-dry clay pit. The road, which used to provide access to the clay pits for brick makers, is now used as an easy hike or for horse riders headed to Radar Park, the old location of the missile sites.

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Photo by Lisa Dunham

A trip on Clay Pit Road is an easy starting hike in the season. The trails are well kept and there is a preservation society maintaining signs.

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Photo by Lisa Dunham

Mudstone, which fragments into tiles, can be found near the clay pits. The pits once supplied clay for bricks made in nearby Newcastle.

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Photo by Lisa Dunham

It’s impossible to find north using this old log, which has moss on every side.

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Photo by Lisa Dunham

The signs of spring are sprouting along the trail in April, with salmonberry flowers in bloom.

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