Monday, December 7, 2015

Hike to the Tiger Mountain Christmas Tree

An annual tradition for many hikers in the Seattle area is a trip to the Tiger Mountain Christmas Tree. I couldn't find out how it began, but some years ago people started hanging Christmas decorations on a tree deep in the forest on Tiger Mountain.  Since I had heard stories about this secret tree from other hikers, I was very excited to try to go find this magnificent holiday tree.

Border Collies Tim and Hank ready to hike 

Directions to Tiger Mountain 

Tiger Mountain has several trail heads, but for our hike to the Tiger Mountain Christmas Tree we started from the popular High Point trailhead about 30 minutes east of Seattle right off I-90 exit 20.



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 Take I-90 exit 20 and turn south (right if coming eastbound from Seattle or left if traveling I-90 westbound).  Unless you arrive extremely early on a weekday, the cars parked at this very popular trailhead will be visible before you arrive at the exit.  Parking is available all along the dead-end road to the left on SE 79th.  Since this is a Washington State forest, a Discover Pass is required to park.

Directions to the Tiger Mountain Christmas Tree

Tiger Mountain Highpoint Trailhead
After parking, walk back (east) to the corner of SE 79th and 270th Ave SE where there is a gate.  Walk past the gate along the road, past the pond to the end of the road. The trail begins to the right just past the pond.

The Christmas Tree isn't marked on any trail map that I know of and with over 50 miles of trails meandering through the forest on Tiger Mountain it can be a little tricky to find, so I always recommend taking a map.  This waterproof map that includes all of the Issaquah Alps is the one that I use when hiking in the area.



(this is an afilliate link - if you buy something, I may earn a commision)



#Spoiler Alert! - if you want to be surprised when you do the hike and don't want to see a photo of this gorgeous tree, do NOT look at the last photo on this page.

Tim and Hank leashed as we start up Tiger Mountain
The fern lined trail starts in a winding uphill climb under some big leaf maple trees.  With noses to the ground taking in all of the great scents, Tim and Hank are leashed up because this hike requires that dogs be leashed.  We proceeded up the trail with me in great anticipation of the beautifully decorated tree we were seeking.

The trail through large trees on Tiger Mountain
Soon we are out of the maples and into a forest of towering evergreen trees and the trail leveled out somewhat. At the first trail junction, take the Lingering Trail.

Tiger Mountain Intersection of Lingering Trail and  Dwight's Way Trail
At the intersection of Lingering Trail and Dwight's Way Trail, take Dwight's Way toward the Preston Trail.  At every turn we were getting closer to our destination.

Bootleg Trail Sign Tiger Mountain
From Dwight's Way, turn onto the lower Bootleg Trail, then proceed onto the middle Bootleg Trail.

Tiger Mountain Sign at the Junction of Bootleg Trail and Paw Print Connector Trails
Proceed to the Paw Print Connector, turn right and the tree is just off the upper Bootleg Trail about 100 yards up above the Paw Print Connector junction.  I can hardly wait to see this gorgeous tree.  I wanted to be surprised at the grandeur of a secret Christmas Tree hidden in the forest, so I had intentionally not looked at any photos before we hiked up Tiger Mountain to see it.   Remember, don't look at the photo below if you want to be surprised when you get there.

Photo of the Tiger Mountain Christmas Tree



Tim and Hank at the Tiger Mountain Christmas Tree
For those who did not heed the spoiler alert at the beginning, as you can see, the tree itself is a rather scrawny, nondescript specimen.   It is definitely in the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree category.   I think it is a Western Hemlock which is not even a good species to use for a Christmas Tree.. (A Douglas fir or grand fir would have been a better choice.)  We took this photo, added a small bell covered in birdseed, had a snack and headed back to the trailhead.  Any sunny fall day spent hiking in the Issaquah Alps is a good day and it added to the fun to search for and find the Tiger Mountain Christmas Tree.


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