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Silent Swamp Loop

Issaquah Alps

Location

Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain
View map below

Length

8.8 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 600 ft.
Highest Point: 1780 ft.

Rating

2.89 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

The Silent Swamp Trail is located in the southeast corner of Tiger Mountain State Forest. A few years ago, both ends of the trail were obliterated by clear-cut logging and the trail was unusable for some time. The ends of the trail have been relocated to avoid the logged-over areas and the trail is usable once again, now as a joint-use trail for hikers and mountain bikers. If you hiked this trail several years ago, or are consulting an older map or hiking guide, you need to be aware there have been significant changes.

As one of Tiger Mountain's "internal" trails, the Silent Swamp Trail lacks a publically accessible trailhead of its own, so it can be hiked only in combination with other Tiger trails. One such combination, most likely the easiest, is offered here.

Begin at the Tiger Summit Trailhead off Highway 18 and take the short Connector Trail heading east. It soon crosses the Main Tiger Mountain Road (Rd 4000,) and then becomes the NW Timber Trail. Enjoy the surroundings here that are exceptionally green and mossy, and in spring be alert for a few wildflowers.

Soon, you will come to a trail junction. This could be confusing because it's not shown on the current (2014) revision of the Green Trails Tiger Mountain Map. Your route is the right fork, the ongoing NW Timber Trail (although in the spring of 2016 the trail sign was reported missing.)

The left trail fork, signed "Master Link Trail," is one of several new trails constructed in this corner of the Tigers for joint use by hikers and mountain bikers. Some of these new trails are not shown on the 2014 revision of the Green Trails map, but likely will appear on future editions. In the interim, you can find all the new trails on a map downloadable from Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

As you continue on the NW Timber Trail, it enters an area that was logged a few years ago, so it is sunnier and dryer. Look for a different mix of spring wildflowers here. Soon, you will come to a signed junction with the Joy Ride Trail (shown on the 2014 revision of the Green Trails map.) Head up that trail. It's a bit more rambling and undulating than a trail constructed just for hikers would be, but it's not at all problematical. As on any trail shared with mountain bikers, it's a good idea to be alert for an occasional rider heading downhill toward you. If you encounter anyone, please step off the trail and let them pass, and do offer friendly greetings.

Continue on about a mile on the Joy Ride Trail, gaining 350 feet, then cross Trout Hatchery Creek on a sturdy bridge. In a few yards you will come to a signed trail fork. Heading uphill to the left is the Fully Rigid Trail. Heading slightly downhill to the right is the new upper end of the Silent Swamp Trail (formerly located higher up on the Crossover Road.)

Head down the Silent Swamp Trail. There are a few steep, stony switchbacks at the beginning before the grade becomes more steady. Much of the route is very green, with a lot of growth in the understory, and many gigantic, decaying stumps - remnants of logging a century ago. In fact, this trail may offer the most dramatic and colorful old stumpage you can see anywhere in the Tigers.

The new Silent Swamp Trail continues on for about 1.5 miles, avoiding recently-logged areas. In fact, much of it sports significant second growth forest. A short section of the trail, perhaps a hundred yards or so, follows a newly-constructed boardwalk. That area may not strike you as particularly swampy, although after a rain there will be small rivulets and trickles.

You can judge for yourself whether the word "Swamp" in the trail name is appropriate. The area certainly is mossy. If you have hiked the Big Tree Trail - or the Tradition Lake Loop - up in the northwest corner of the Tigers then you know what real swamp looks like. But, aptly-named or not, the Silent Swamp Trail does offer a very satisfying hike through a dramatic, very green area.

At its lower end, the Silent Swamp Trail ends at the Crossover Road (Rd 5500). Continue downhill on the road 0.2 miles, passing the lower end of the Preston RR Grade Trail, and continue a short way beyond that to reach the East Side Road. Turn right, and head south along that road for the next 1.8 miles. As with most roads in the Tigers, this road is intended for occasional use by authorized service vehicles. It's closed to the general public, so you are unlikely to see much motorized traffic.

Part way along the road, in the spring of 2016, there was a washout that closed the road to motor vehicles. The remaining road bed is several feet wide, enough to accommodate hikers and bikers safely. But washouts can evolve in response to heavy rain so, if the washout has not yet been repaired, look the situation over carefully before deciding how to proceed.

When you reach the well-signed junction with the NW Timber Trail, turn onto that trail. In 0.2 miles, you will come to the familiar junction with the Joy Ride Trail where you headed uphill earlier in your hike. Follow the NW Timber Trail, and the short Connector Trail, back to your trailhead.


Alternative Routes
If you are enthused about the Silent Swamp Trail and would like to experience it again, you do have the option of turning around when you reach the Crossover Road and retracing your incoming route back to the trailhead.

Alternatively, a look at the map will suggest other possibilities for a loop that includes the Silent Swamp Trail, although most will involve greater distance and more elevation change than the loop route suggested above.

For example, upon reaching the lower end of the Silent Swamp Trail, you could turn left and hike up the Crossover Road about two miles, gaining about 400 feet, to reach the upper end of the Fully Rigid Trail, then descend that trail and the Joy Ride Trail back to the NW Timber Trail.

If you do opt for an alternative return route, be sure it avoids the Predator Trail. That trail descends steeply from Sally's Summit on East Tiger Mountain to reach the Tiger Summit Trailhead and unlike other trails in the area it is designated for use by mountain bikers only.

 

Silent Swamp Loop

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.4683, -121.9362 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain

Northwest Timber Trail (#0), Joy Ride Trail (#0), Silent Swamp Trail (#0), East Side Road (#0)

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance Tiger Mt Trail Map

Buy the Green TrailsTiger Mountain No. 204S map

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

From I-90 a few miles east of Issaquah, take Exit 25 and head south on Highway 18. In about four miles, turn off to the right at Tiger Summit. Or, if you are coming from Tacoma or points south on I-5, take the Highway 18 exit (Auburn) and head east to Tiger Summit. As you leave the pavement, watch for potholes. Continue on Road 1000 a quarter mile to the trailhead parking area, just before you reach a locked gate. A toilet is available, but no regular water source. A Discover Pass is required here.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Silent Swamp Loop

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