Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

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.

Sitting between 1,000 and 1,600 feet above sea level, the park boasts the same green Pacific Northwest Climate of nearby cities Renton, Bellevue, Issaquah and Newcastle. The park has more than 35 miles of hiking trails and 12 miles of equestrian trails.

Major Trailheads at Cougar Mountain

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:

  1. Town Trailhead: Located off Lakemont Blvd SE at an elevation of 640 feet, this trailhead offers easy access to lower intensity trails.
  2. Sky Country Trailhead: Starting at a significantly higher elevation of 1,188 feet, Sky Country offers big views and tougher hikes, and is located off Clay Pit Rd.
  3. Harvey Manning Trailhead: At the highest elevation of all, 1430 feet, this trailhead sits off SE Cougar Mountain Rd, and is also where the maintenance office is.
  4. Jim Whittaker Wilderness Peak Trailhead: And the lowest elevation trail, only 89 feet above sea level, is located off SR-900/Renton-Issaquah Rd, ideal for short walks with kiddos.

NOTE: The last trailhead is the only one with no equestrian access. Bicycles are prohibited on all trails.

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.

How to Get There

In addition to driving, you can also reach Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park via by 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).

Cougar Mountain Scenery and Activities

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:

  • Birdwatching
  • Picnicking
  • Dog walking

The Best Trails at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

By popular agreement on All Trails, here are the five best trails to try if you’re new to the Cougar Mountain wilderness area:

  • Margaret’s Way Trail to Debbie’s View
  • Whittaker Wilderness Peak Trail
  • Coal Creek Falls Loop via Red Town and Cave Hole Trail
  • Longview Peak and Far Country Lookout Loop
  • Sky Country (Cougar Mountain) Trail
Ready to get your hike on? Grab your map and give one of these a try today!