Squak Mountain’s Central Peak
Hike description: Squak Mountain is a gift hikers and other trail users have been enjoying for decades.
The Bullitt family donated 590 acres of the land to the state, and the area was designated a state park in 1972. Additional land was added, making what today is a 1,545-acre forest with 13 miles of trails.
The area is ideal for winter hiking because of the low elevation. Squak’s high point, Central Peak, is 2,024 feet above sea level.
Central Peak is a worthy hike even if the summit is rather unimpressive. On clear days you can get a partial view through the tees from the peak that is topped with the towers of a Bonneville Power Administration’s microwave station. A dirt road — closed to cars — also leads to the summit.
Perhaps the highlight of this walk in the woods can be found just below the summit. A tall stone fireplace is the remnants of the Bullitt family’s old summer home. A picnic table makes this an ideal spot for a break, but fires aren’t permitted. The fireplace is clearly marked on the trail map found on the park website.
Start at the parking lot along May Valley Road and follow the signs to Central Peak. The way is well marked and steep in a couple areas.
Start on the May Valley Loop Trail, then connect to the Bullitt Gorge Trail as you ascend along Bullitt Creek. You’ll pass through forest and patches of ferns. The Central Peak Trail will take you the rest of the way to the summit.
From the top you can return the way you came (3.2 miles back to the car), follow the road (2.4) or use the road and trails on its east side to create loop. Note that the park map shows that a section of trail on the east side of the road is closed. Or you can extend your trip along the maze of trails beyond the highpoint.
Directions: From state Route 18, take the Issaquah Hobart Road exit and drive northwest toward Issaquah. After 4.5 miles, turn left on May Valley Road. Continue another 1.4 miles and find the trailhead on the right.
Difficulty rating: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: 6.4.
Elevation gain: 2,000 feet.
Best time of the year: Year round.
Pass: Discover Pass.
Also: Six of the 13 miles in the park are open to horses. Squak Mountain State Park connects to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest, giving users a multitude of hilly yet lowland trails. There is a restroom at the trailhead. The 0.3-mile self-guided interpretive Pretzel Tree Trail is located near the parking lot. Dogs must be on leashes and cleaned up after. There are several geocaches in the area in, according to geocaching.com.