Cougar Mountain – Overview
In mid-May, Ryan and I attended a wedding in beautiful Washington state. We took a few extra days and had a mini vacation in the Bellevue area before the baby arrives.
Our first full day in Washington state was a lovely sunny day that definitely warranted a hike. Since we weren’t too familiar with the area, I did some web searches and uncovered an excellent blog to help our cause. Weekend Hike covers “Great hikes around the Pacific Northwest and the San Francisco Bay Area.” The blog highlighted a number hikes in the nearby 3000 acre Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. With 36 miles of hiking trails, Cougar Mountain had a lot of choose from. I perused a number of Weekend Hike’s posts and Ryan and I decided to try the Licorice Fern Trail -> Indian Trail to see the Far Country Falls. We figured we would also do a diversion up the Far Country Trail to see a view. Once we finished those two destinations, however, we were up for more hiking!
Spying the word “Wall” in the “De Leo Wall Trail” and knowing how beautiful Southwest Virginia’s Barney’s Wall is, we continued down the Indian Trail and took the De Leo Wall Trail. It did not disappoint and offered some of the best views of the day! After De Leo Wall, we headed down the Cross Town Trail to the Terrace Trail. We saw a neighborhood terrace and then quaint little Boulder Grove before turning around and heading back home.
Although it had the word “Lookout” in its name, the Far Country Lookout was far from my favorite. I did, however, absolutely adore the moss and fern embellished Far Country Falls. The view from a New Castle neighborhood off the Terrace Trail was a change of pace. It was the views of the De Leo Wall Trail that were the real gem of the day. From there, you could even see larger, snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Flora – General
In September 2007, I had the privilege of another hike in Washington State – Twin Falls. Just like the hike four years ago, I was smitten with the prevalence of my favorite color. The trees, dead or alive, sported ferns and moss along their bark. We were in an Emerald Wonderland! So much did I enjoy being enveloped in green, I decided the Licorice Fern Trail was my favorite portion of the day even though it lacks flashy views or waterfalls. It was just plain beautiful.
Flora – Wildflowers
We were hiking at an excellent time and got to see a number of blooming wildflowers. Most of them I didn’t recognize. But we saw a couple we were familiar with from the east coast, namely trillium…. and dandelion. : )
When Ryan and I started our hike, the day was still young and misty. We didn’t see any birds or mammals, but we did see plenty of mollusks! We spied a snail, black slugs (Arion ater) and what I believe to be an impressive variety of Pacific banana slugs (Ariolimax columbianus).
As the day warmed up, the moisture in the forest disappeared and so did all the slugs and snails. It was then we started to notice the mammals and the birds. We ran across a squirrel, birds and a number of deer who seemed as fond of the trails as we were.
The fauna highlight of the day was seeing not one but TWO green hummingbirds out in the wild (One off the Cross Town Trail and one off the Licorice Fern Trail). Alas, those little buggers were so fleeting and fast, we had no hope of pictures. Nonetheless, those surprise sightings will stick with us. Both of the hummingbirds we saw were green… so perhaps they were female Anna’s Hummingbirds (Calypte anna)?
All in all, we were hiking for five gorgeous, invigorating hours. It looks tedious to add up the mileage from the Trail Map. I typically hike 2 miles an hour, so I suspect our total outing was between 8-10 miles. Not too bad for 27 weeks. : )
|Cougar Mountain Via the Licorice Fern TrailheadTrail Map
Length: Varied – 36 miles of trail to choose from!
Elevation Gain: Varied
Directions from Bellevue, Washington
From I-405 S, Take Exit 10 on Coal Creek Parkway toward Factoria
Turn left on SE May Valley Road
Turn left to stay on SE May Valley Road
Take the first left onto SE 112th Street
Licorice Fern Trailhead will be on the right after a sharp bend left.
Parking is along the street.