9+ miles / 1800′ elevation gain
Like the past several weekends in the Pacific Northwest, the weather forecasted for clear blue skies on the last day of February. A friend of mine suggested we hike to Poo Poo Point, and I was happy to explore West Tiger Mountain once again. My husband and I hiked to Poo Poo Point last winter, but our day turned from rain at the bottom of the Chirico Trail to snow at the higher elevations with zero visibility. Last December we volunteered with the Washington Trails Association making trail repairs on the Section Line Trail. We were excited to finally hike up to Poo Poo Point and see the hang gliding and paragliding that make this trail so popular. We arrived at the trailhead parking in Issaquah meeting two friends for a day of hiking around 10:30 am.
Our hike began on the Rainier Trail starting at the parking area off East Sunset Way. As soon the hike begins it briefly climbs up following the roadway to its’ left before you turn right onto a flatter part of the trail. The Rainier Trail makes its way behind an Issaquah neighborhood and eventually the Issaquah High School. As we hiked along this section of the trail it was easy to notice the close proximity of the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club with the sounds of frequent gun shots nearby. Just as the trail nears the edge of the school property, we made a left onto the High School Trail. This is where the trail starts to climb with a gradual ascent making its way upwards towards Poo Poo Point. The West Tiger Mountains trails were full of hikers enjoying another beautiful day in Washington. Once the trail connects to the Section Line Trail the climbing becomes steeper and constant. We stopped several times to catch our breath and hydrate from the exhaustion of the climb. As we made our way along the trail it was fun to walk along the ditches and trail dips I helped dig only a few months before. It made me appreciate the volunteer work the WTA provides even more thinking about the manual labor it takes to maintain the trails throughout the state. The trail begins to switch back and forth more frequently as it makes its’ way up. Once the trail finally reaches the top, with only one half mile to go, it then begins to slowly descend back down the side of Tiger Mountain towards Poo Poo Point. We arrived at our destination with excitement as the view of crowds including picnicking hikers looking on to several paragliders and hang gliders preparing to take off.
We found a spot among the small crowd to join in the fun of viewing the paragliders at Poo Poo Point. The horizon was speckled with adventurers floating along the wind currents in the sky. The paragliders took turns one by one jogging right off the point and pulling their legs into a sitting position once their parachute takes control. We spent the afternoon with a panoramic view of the Puget Sound while refueling and enjoying conversation with friends. I loved the vast array of colors the parachutes displayed as they slowly glided their way down towards the valley floor. After a while, several hang gliders were ready to make their departure from the point as well.
Even though the sun was shining, the cooler temperatures had us wanting to start hiking to warm ourselves up once more. After a short uphill hike that helped us warm up more quickly, the long, winding trek towards the bottom of West Tiger Mountain began. I always enjoy the downhills as they allow for good conversation as you hike. Time passed quickly as we retraced our steps towards the parking lot enjoying the company of hiking friends. Many hikers we still pouring up the trail towards Poo Poo Point as we were rapidly approaching the end of our journey. Once we reached our final destination we said goodbye to our friends and drove away from Tiger Mountain. I knew it would not be the last time my boots would hike those trails.