Holder Ridge at Taylor Mountain Forest
Hike description: Taylor Mountain Forest is a convenient place to wander. Simply grab a map from the trailhead kiosk and get to it.
There are 30 miles of trails and dirt roads packed into the 1,924-acre working forest situated between state Route 18 and the city of Seattle Cedar River Watershed.
The Holder Ridge Trail is a good place to start. It’s near the parking lot and climbs gradually through a young forest of red alders and evergreens. The route is well marked with the exception of an intersection about half a mile up the trail. When you reach it, stay left.
You’ll get a few views of the valley as you climb. After 1.6 miles, you’ll reach an intersection with a sign pointing the way to Holder Knob. Follow the signs to the trail’s high point in less than 1/3 mile.
Holder Knob offers a good resting place. There are hitching posts for horses, a picnic table and a view partially obstructed by trees. On our recent visit, we had Holder Knob to ourselves and found the view was best from the top of the picnic table. We heard that on clearer days you can see Mount Rainier.
From here, if you finish the Holder Knob loop and descend the Holder Ridge Trail, the round trip would cover 4.3 miles. But you can easily tack on miles by using the Whiskey Still Trail or the roads.
We attempted to make a 5.5-mile loop by linking roads A and K and the Holder Creek Trail. Our plans were thwarted when we met a hiker who warned us that we’d have to cross the creek “and it’s not fun.”
The Holder Creek Trail is closed Oct. 15-April 15. We settled for exploring a few unmarked side trails and struggling to get a decent photo of a large pond. We covered 7.5 miles before heading back to avoid approaching rain.
Directions: From state Route 18 take the Issaquah-Hobart Road exit and head south on 276 Avenue Southeast. The parking lot is in a quarter mile, on the left side of the road.
Difficulty rating: 2 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: 4.3.
Elevation gain: 550 feet.
Best time of the year: Year-round.
Map: Available at the trail kiosk and the King County Parks website.
Also: Taylor Mountain was acquired by King County in 1997. The trails are also open to horses and mountain bikes. Signs remind visitors that mountain bikers should yield to all trail users and all users should yield to horses. There are black bear, cougars and other wildlife in the forest. Dogs on leashes are permitted. There are several geocaches hidden along this route, according to geocaching.com.