Tiger Mountain Trail – West Tiger Railroad Grade – West Tiger #3 Loop
1960 feet elevation gain
Tiger Mountain is one of my go-to hiking destinations near the Seattle area when I don’t want to drive very far. Thirty minutes from downtown Seattle, it’s a short drive but miles away from city life. The mountain can draw quite the crowd on a sunny weekend, but I’ve found that most folks tend to congregate on the West Tiger #3 and Poo Poo Point Trails.
The mountain is criss-crossed with numerous other less-traveled trails, which makes it easy to shorten or lengthen your hike on the fly if you so desire. Just be sure to bring a map (paper or digital) so it’s easy find your way around on the less well-marked trails.
My favorite trail in the area is the Tiger Mountain Trail – the TMT is a 16-mile trail spanning the length of Tiger Mountain. I first hiked the TMT just over a year ago, which I chronicled in this blog post: Tiger Mountain Trail-Poo Poo Point Trail Loop. More recently, I hiked a portion of the TMT back in January with my friends Halfway and Garnet Turtle, and hiked a similar route again yesterday.
The route starts at the High Point Trailhead, which was packed with cars due to the sunny weekend weather. I started on the route towards West Tiger #3, but then quickly split off onto the Tiger Mountain Trail shortly after the hike began.
Hiking in the spring is such a joy. Everything is so much greener as compared to when I last hiked through here. Young fern shoots unfurled towards sky along the side of the trail. Wildflowers bloomed here and there, poking out amid the greenery. Green leaves sprang from branches that were formerly bare.
When we hiked the trail in January, it was a rainy day that turned to snow as we gained in elevation. At first snow dusted the ground, but we were trudging through several inches of snow by the time we reached the West Tiger #2 summit.
I also noticed more wildlife this time around. I’m not sure if that’s because I was warmer and in less of a hurry, but I almost stepped on a snail that was slowly ambling along the trail. I also saw lots of birds, slugs, and a centipede today.
Two and a half miles from the trailhead I reached Murat’s Bridge, which is a nice there-and-back hike in it’s own right. This is one of my favorite landmarks on the trail and I always stop here for a snack break. Dedicated to Murat Danishek who passed away in 2013, the bridge is a memorial by his family. What a cool way to honor the legacy of a loved one.
After passing the bridge, I followed the trail up to Fred’s Corner where it meets the West Tiger Railroad Grade Trail. The trail flattens out for a bit as it follows an old railroad, with a bit of a detour over a new bridge crossing High Point Creek as the old bridge was washed out some time ago.
Back in January, we hiked on to Tom’s Corner and then to the West Tiger #2 Summit. It was too cloudy to see a view, but it was cool to see the radio tower all covered in snow. We were all shivering from the wet and cold as none of us had really expected that much snow. We stopped for a short lunch break but had to keep moving to stay warm. We took the West Tiger #3 trail back to the trailhead and only passed a few other people.
This time around, I decided to take a shorter route as I only planned to spend half my day hiking. Upon reaching the intersection of the TMT trail with the K-3 Trail, I took the West Tiger Railroad Grade connector trail downhill until it reached the West Tiger #3 Trail.
Here’s where I really met the crowds. I passed scores of dayhikers ascending and descending the mountain. The West Tiger #3 Trail is rocky and steep and wide enough for several people to walk abreast. I was reminded of why I typically avoid the trail, but it was the fastest route back to my car.
All in all another lovely hike on the TMT trail and I’m sure it won’t be my last.