Forum Index > Trip Reports > Squak Mountain East Peak
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
whitebark
Member
Member


Joined: 08 Jul 2005
Posts: 1815 | TRs
Location: Seattle
whitebark
  Top

Member
PostWed Jan 03, 2018 8:36 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Squak Mountain is my go-to spot for hiking when I don't feel like a long drive. This small but rugged mountain has a vast network of trails and all sorts of interesting corners. I had heard that there were  large old growth trees on Squak's East Peak, and today's dry and sunny weather was perfect for doing a little exploration and see those trees.  Here's a map of my route:


Squak
Squak

After parking at the May Valley Trailhead (Discover pass required) I walked the short spur trail to the Squak Mountain road (point 1 on the map) then continued along the May Valley Trail as it climbed through pleasant forest. At the next junction (point 2) I went right on the short spur trail to get back to the road at point 3, which I followed for the sake of efficiency - the  service road is more direct then the trail. At point 4, I veered off the road onto the Phil's Creek Trail, which made a gentle ascent along Phil's Creek's tranquil valley.

At length the trail topped out at Thrush Gap, which separates the East Peak from the main mass of Squak Mountain. At Point 6, I turned right onto the East Ridge Trail which dipped into the lowest point of the gap before climbing a bit to the top of the ridge. Right at the high point of the trail I spotted an unsigned but obvious path heading south - the East Peak Trail.

This trail is unofficial but seems to get some use and a bit of maintenance. It made a gradual climb along the ridge top toward the northern summit of the East Peak. The forest along the path was beautiful with many large trees three feet or so in diameter - not ancient forest but pretty nice all the same. Beyond the northern summit the trail became fainter as it descended into a saddle, where I saw one massive old douglas fir leaning precariously. The trail then ascended to the south summit of the ridge (Southeast Peak on the map).

After resting here a bit, I continued following the trail, which began a sustained descent. With less signs of use, the trail became a bit hard to follow as it plunged through the thickets of old growth sallal.  Despite this, it was clear that someone had put quite a bit of work on the path a long time ago. Large logs were chainsawed and switchbacks laid out to moderate the grade. After descending a few hundred feet, the trail leveled out in a basin, then climbed a bit to reach a base of a massive ancient tree.  Not long past this point, near a ravine with a cliff rising beyond, I lost the trail for good as it faded out on a slope covered with ferns (point 8).

Seeing on my GPS unit that I was not far from a newly built section of the May Valley Loop Trail, I commenced a traverse toward that trail, using a cross country route made unpleasant by thickets of sallal and fallen logs.  It was a happy sight when I finally reached the broad tread of the MVL trail around point 9.  A better way to reach the MVL Trail may be to ascend over the top of the cliff from point 8, then drop down on the other side.

The final walk back to the trailhead along the MVL trail was easy and pleasant (points 10, 11, 12). I tooked the shorter old trail between 10 and 11, not the longer official route. The  MVL trail crossed Phil's Creek on a massive bridge supported by steel girders, then climbed a bit to reach the Squak Mtn. service road, which I followed to the trailhead.

A nice day all in all. The summit ridge of the East Peak is a beautiful spot and deserves a few more visitors. Maybe someone can figure out where the old trail went past the spot where I lost it.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 13875 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
  Top

Member
PostWed Jan 03, 2018 9:37 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Bill Longwell in the 70's built a number of trails in the area according to Harvey Manning. One of these went from near the junction of May Valley and Issaquah Hobart roads to the prominent cliff visible to the road and then to the Southeast peak there were switchbacks much of the way. Two years ago I followed a well blazed trail from the peak down to the power line on the East Side of Squak Mountain ending up across the street from the Chirco trailhead. I think this trail may have been a part of a greenway extension. The Squak Ranger told me that horse people had blazed a trail from Phils Creek to the Southwest Peak but I never found it. It is an interesting area and GPS readings can get sketchy there.

--------------
"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
whitebark
Member
Member


Joined: 08 Jul 2005
Posts: 1815 | TRs
Location: Seattle
whitebark
  Top

Member
PostThu Jan 04, 2018 11:11 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
That is some interesting info, MC. I didn't see the trail descending from E. Squak towards the Chirico trail - I'll have to look for it next time I am up there.

One old Manning/ Longwell era trail that survives is the short cut path from Thrush Gap to the East Side trail. It passes below a rock bluff called "Manning's Pulpit", a joking reference, no doubt, to Harvey's preachy tendencies. Some other of the old trails were upgraded to official routes, notably the Perimeter Trail, so named because it was part of a route circling Squak Mountain. The old Thrush Gap trail was part of the Perimeter Trail system.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 13875 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
  Top

Member
PostThu Jan 04, 2018 8:38 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
The thrush gap to East Side shortcut was rebuilt by one of my neighbors a few years ago. It passes above the Squak Caves area. I believe the Perimiter trail was originally proposed by horse people to loop around the summit. There are several other abandoned trails and a couple cabins on the mountain.

--------------
"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
nordique
Member
Member


Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 889 | TRs

nordique
  Top

Member
PostFri Jan 05, 2018 7:09 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Supposedly, that cliff area is full of poison oak--which ended trail development.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 13875 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
  Top

Member
PostFri Jan 05, 2018 7:45 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I can affirm poison oak is in the area. Long ago we checked it out for climbing but the rock is not suitable. Low grade crumbling andesite.

--------------
"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
nordique
Member
Member


Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 889 | TRs

nordique
  Top

Member
PostFri Jan 05, 2018 9:50 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Speaking of old cabins, I always look for Bill Longwell's old cabin when going up the centrail summit trail on Squak.  Here is his old cabin as of yesterday:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/27731186269/

I also noticed the fine-looking trail going up to the east peak of Squak, from the east ridge trail--and hope to see what shape the rest of that trail is in sometime this winter.  It also looks as if it would be easy to link Debbie's View with the Bullitt Gorge trail, making a loop with the Perimeter Trail.  I remember when Debbie's View was Joe's View, after Joy Toynbee, who did a lot of trail building on Squak with Bill Longwell.   Nice to see that Joe is still among us!  The first time I did the Perimeter Trail was with Joe.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 13875 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
  Top

Member
PostSat Jan 06, 2018 8:10 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Too bad about the holes in the roof I assume it is not long for the world. I see it a lot but have not been inside for years. It was intact last time I was there, when it was built you could still drive up Phils Creek.

--------------
"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
nordique
Member
Member


Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 889 | TRs

nordique
  Top

Member
PostSun Jan 07, 2018 1:37 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wow, never knew that Phil's Creek was driven in the old days!  How far back was that?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 13875 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
  Top

Member
PostSun Jan 07, 2018 3:43 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
In the 70's the cabin was built just past the stringer bridge over Crystal Creek. It originally went all the way to the the mill where the Old Griz trail intersects. They ran old Model T logging rigs up there. There is a picture of the mill in the Squak Mountain book the IATC put out. Some logging relics at thrush gap and around the SW peak. Most of the trails were old logging roads. We saw one of the last keeps on the Central PeakTrail née road in the mid 80's.

--------------
"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
nordique
Member
Member


Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 889 | TRs

nordique
  Top

Member
PostSun Jan 07, 2018 6:38 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks!  I need to pick up some of those IATC books while they are still available!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Squak Mountain East Peak
  Happy Birthday Gabigabs, alpine964!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy