Big Tree Trail

Finally! A sunny Seattle day for hiking! Since I have been shut in my house for the last two weeks since my West Tiger #3 adventure, as well as a failed attempt at Chirico Trail, I opted to go for an easy hike up at Tiger today.

I’m a sucker for ancient trees, so Big Tree has been on my mental hiking list for a while. Washington State is home to several majestic ancient trees, however many of them are located in the Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula, at least three hours away from Seattle. Though this specific tree is “only” 200-400 years old, it is nice to have such a magical creature only 10 driving-minutes away from home!

Directions

This hike is off of I-90 and exit 20, High Point. We took a right at the stop sign and another right on SE 79th Street and went all the way to the parking lot. You do need a Discover Pass to park here, but it is also possible to park outside of the lot and hike in for free.

Route

There are many ways to get to the Big Tree, I chose a fairly simple loop that ended up being about 2.5 miles. From the parking lot I took the Swamp Trail which was about .7 miles. After crossing two power line areas the Swamp Trail turns into the Big Tree Trail. This also was about .7 miles before it met up with a small section of the Brink Trail (turn left at the junction). Then I turned left again and took the Puget Power Road, passing the PSE Substation, back to the parking lot.

Trail Conditions

Although the trail is relatively flat, the conditions were a little rough today. I would not recommend this someone with mobility issues until it has been cleared. There are some fallen trees and low vine maples. Just after the Big Tree a large tree has fallen and obscured the trail, so the best way around that is to go around two big stumps to the right and then meet up with the trail again. There was some compacted snow in a couple spots.

Trail conditions

Equipment

This was the inaugural hike for my new Vasque Breeze III from REI Used Gear! I took my backpack with poles but did not end up needing anything else besides the boots.

The Experience

This was a nice easy saunter through the woods. The Swamp Trail has a few little storyboards for kids to read, with a made up story about a “swamp monster”. This would be a good hike for kids as it is short and easy with a few options to make the hike longer or shorter as needed.

Fun storyboards for kids!

After passing two power line trail areas, Swamp Trail turns into Big Tree Trail. For some reason, things start getting very green and mossy on the Big Tree trail. There are several trees that are quite large, reminiscent of the Hoh Rainforest.

Start of the Big Tree Trail

Before long, I encountered the Big Tree! There is a nice bench to sit and enjoy the tree. The tree is striking and is protected behind a barrier. Please stay behind the barrier so as to not destroy its root system!

The Big Tree!

Just after the tree is the fallen tree I mentioned above. I went around two stumps next to the fallen tree and met up with the trail again. From here to the trail junction, the forest is quite beautiful despite not being high in elevation. There is lots of hanging moss on trees. I even saw a pileated woodpecker!

A stand of young trees

At the junction with the Brink Trail, I took a left and quickly came upon the Puget Power Road, where I also took a left. I attempted to take the Wetlands Trail up to Round Lake, but it was pretty icy so I turned around and continued to take the Puget Power Road.

Swamp and Big Tree Trails go at a slight decline, so here at the Puget Power Road you do climb maybe 100 feet fairly rapidly, but that’s the only significant incline on the whole hike.

Not too long after passing the PSE Substation, I started seeing Tradition Lake peeking through the tree stand. To the right there are some benches where to sit and admire Tradition Lake and the Tiger Summit behind it. Today the lake was still frozen! It was very cool to see.

Frozen Tradition Lake with a frosty Tiger Mountain behind it

The Verdict

This was a great hike to get back into it after a couple weeks of being snowed in. I would suggest doing it backwards by taking the Puget Power Road first if you want some steady elevation gain. There are plenty of trails around to tack onto the hike, and even some trails to shorten it. That’s what makes Tiger so great!

Cumulative Mileage in 2019: 30.07

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