Established in 1983 as a public land preserve in the Issaquah Alps region near Seattle, Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park consists of 3,115 acres of land (translating to more than 12 square kilometers and 4.5 miles). Together with two other wilderness areas – Squak Mountain State Park and Cougar-Squak Corridor Park – there is a total of more than 5,000 acres of protected land here, much of which is accessible to the public.
There are four trailheads at Cougar Mountain, offering spacious parking and connections to a total of 56 trails of varying length and difficulty. These range from family-friendly, perfect for a day out with the kids and grandparents, to challenging paths with elevation, ideal for backpackers and long-distance hikers who are training. Trailheads include:
NOTE: The last trailhead is the only one with no equestrian access. Bicycles are prohibited on all trails.
The signage in the park is great. Maps are available at all four trailheads, and major trail intersections in the park are clearly marked. Download a map ahead of time here.
In addition to driving, you can also reach Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park via Sound Transit and King County Metro. During certain times of the year, Trailhead Direct offers park-and-ride services, so you don’t have to fight for parking at trailheads. Check for weekend and holiday times and be aware that it may not run depending on extenuating circumstances (such as pandemics).
This park consists mostly of trails that wend their way through forests, meadows, wetlands, and caves. Some areas are protected from urban sounds, nestled within the forest up against Cougar Mountain, the core of the park. Others offer expansive views of surrounding cities and the Cascade Mountains. Activities other than hiking and riding include:
By popular agreement on All Trails, here are the five best trails to try if you’re new to the Cougar Mountain wilderness area: