Poo Poo Point is a popular trail for regional hikers looking for views

September 3, 2009

By Christopher Huber

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By Christopher Huber
Even on an overcast day, the views from Poo Poo Point are magnificent.
Although it sits at less than 2,000 feet above sea level, the popular hang-gliding and parasailing launching point offers sweeping views of Issaquah, Maple Valley, Lake Sammamish, Mount Rainier and even Mount Baker.
Located at the western end of Tiger Mountain, the trail itself is much nicer than the destination’s name implies — Poo Poo Point is named after the sounds trains made while traveling along nearby railroads, according to Summit Post.org.
The trail is known for it’s easy access, relatively steep grades and popularity among parasailers. But anyone in decent physical condition with two to four hours on his or her hands should consider taking a jaunt on this trail, which ends at the north launch site.
The distance to the hang-glider take-off varies depending on where you start, but the seemingly better-used part — the three-mile round-trip Chirico Trail — starts at the landing field, off Issaquah-Hobart Road. Eager hikers with a full day should try the approximately seven-and-a-half-mile trail from Issaquah High School.
The Chirico Trail is well maintained and accessible virtually year-round. Hikers will get a good workout traversing a handful of steep switchbacks and a few fallen trees along the way. Elevation gain is about 1,500 feet in the one-and-a-half-mile (one way) trip.
Although you won’t get the breathtaking views until the top, enjoy the lush greenery of the abundant forest bed flora, as well as the giant cedar trees.
It will take a while for the hum of cars on the highway to fade away, but after about 25 minutes at a leisurely pace, you’ll really begin to sense the calm of nature around you.
On any given summer day, however, you will likely cross paths with numerous hikers.
Other than the views from the top, a highlight for many might be the nine-foot diameter cedar tree, located across the trail from the termite hill. That’s a good spot to rest before you hit the switchbacks and steeper part of the trail. The trail widens a bit and offers a peek-a-boo view of surrounding forests and hills.
Near the top, the trail splits into two separate routes. Don’t be confused, they both lead to the same place. Stay straight on the trail for a shorter, steeper, less-defined climb; go left if you want the less-steep, more-defined route that takes a couple of minutes longer.
You’re not done yet when you get to the first meadow. Stay to the left and it’s just another 10 minutes or less at a somewhat slow pace and you’ll be at the top. There, you can take in the 180-degree views, have some lunch, smell the vibrant wild foxglove and fireweed, and sometimes watch the parasailers and hang-glider pilots catch the thermal updrafts.
You may get sweaty, but consider a light jacket, because it gets breezy and cool at the top, even on a 70-degree day.

Even on an overcast day, the views from Poo Poo Point are magnificent.

Although it sits at less than 2,000 feet above sea level, the popular hang-gliding and parasailing launching point offers sweeping views of Issaquah, Maple Valley, Lake Sammamish, Mount Rainier and even Mount Baker.

Downtown Issaquah and Lake Sammamish are easily visible in the valley behind a foxglove flower, from near the top of the Chirico Trail hike to Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain. By Christopher Huber

Downtown Issaquah and Lake Sammamish are easily visible in the valley behind a foxglove flower, from near the top of the Chirico Trail hike to Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain. By Christopher Huber

Located at the western end of Tiger Mountain, the trail itself is much nicer than the destination’s name implies — Poo Poo Point is named after the sounds trains made while traveling along nearby railroads, according to Summit Post.org.

The trail is known for it’s easy access, relatively steep grades and popularity among parasailers. But anyone in decent physical condition with two to four hours on his or her hands should consider taking a jaunt on this trail, which ends at the north launch site.

The distance to the hang-glider take-off varies depending on where you start, but the seemingly better-used part — the three-mile round-trip Chirico Trail — starts at the landing field, off Issaquah-Hobart Road. Eager hikers with a full day should try the approximately seven-and-a-half-mile trail from Issaquah High School.

The Chirico Trail is well maintained and accessible virtually year-round. Hikers will get a good workout traversing a handful of steep switchbacks and a few fallen trees along the way. Elevation gain is about 1,500 feet in the one-and-a-half-mile (one way) trip.

Although you won’t get the breathtaking views until the top, enjoy the lush greenery of the abundant forest bed flora, as well as the giant cedar trees.

It will take a while for the hum of cars on the highway to fade away, but after about 25 minutes at a leisurely pace, you’ll really begin to sense the calm of nature around you.

On any given summer day, however, you will likely cross paths with numerous hikers.

Other than the views from the top, a highlight for many might be the nine-foot diameter cedar tree, located across the trail from the termite hill. That’s a good spot to rest before you hit the switchbacks and steeper part of the trail. The trail widens a bit and offers a peek-a-boo view of surrounding forests and hills.

Near the top, the trail splits into two separate routes. Don’t be confused, they both lead to the same place. Stay straight on the trail for a shorter, steeper, less-defined climb; go left if you want the less-steep, more-defined route that takes a couple of minutes longer.

You’re not done yet when you get to the first meadow. Stay to the left and it’s just another 10 minutes or less at a somewhat slow pace and you’ll be at the top. There, you can take in the 180-degree views, have some lunch, smell the vibrant wild foxglove and fireweed, and sometimes watch the parasailers and hang-glider pilots catch the thermal updrafts.

You may get sweaty, but consider a light jacket, because it gets breezy and cool at the top, even on a 70-degree day.

Getting there

  • Landing Field/Chirico trailhead — from Interstate 90, take the Front Street exit (No. 17). Drive south on Front Street. Follow Front Street until it turns into Issaquah-Hobart Road. The trailhead and parking lot is on the left side of the road, across from the blue Squak Mountain-Tiger Mountain Corridor sign.
  • Issaquah High trailhead — from Interstate 90, take the Front Street exit. Drive south on Front Street to Sunset Way and turn left. Then, turn right onto Second Avenue. The trailhead is located on the right, after you pass Issaquah High School, just shy of Second Avenue’s junction with Front Street. The small lot has room for about four cars.
  • Learn more about hang-gliding and parasailing opportunities at Poo Poo Point at http://www.nwparagliding.com.
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Comments

One Response to “Poo Poo Point is a popular trail for regional hikers looking for views”

  1. Dana Sullivan on September 25th, 2009 6:18 pm

    thanks for this article! Although we have lived in Newcastle for 14 years, my wife and I have never hiked Poo Poo Point. Your story prompted us to hike it last weekend and we enjoyed it very much. The Chirico trais is indeed well maintained and is beautiful. I suspect your story introduced a lot of others to this trail, judging by the amount of folks on the trail who said it was also their first time. thanks again.

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