Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park: Licorice Fern Trail

OutAndBack • 4.5 mi • 350 ft

Thanks to a hidden trailhead in a residential neighborhood, few outsiders ever venture up the quiet creek valley of the Licorice Fern Trail, and even most long-time visitors to Cougar Mountain have probably never experienced its beauty or solitude. The intrepid few who do, however, will find both surprising seclusion in a corner of one of the busiest parks in the Puget Sound region and good access to a peaceful waterfall and a modest viewpoint. Without a doubt, the most difficult part of hiking the Licorice Fern Trail is finding the trailhead. There are no clues to its existence beyond the “blink and you’ve missed it” sign along the road. And although the official park map dutifully shows the trail in one corner, many other maps do not indicate that this is part of the Cougar Mountain complex at all. Even if you spot the small post emblazoned with a hiking symbol, you might not believe that this—the head of an apparent driveway through a private garden—could be the right place. But this is indeed the correct trailhead, and once you’ve gone through the difficulty of finding it, your troubles can be put behind you to begin this tranquil hike.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Issaquah
Length: 4.5 total miles
Elevation Gain: 350 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Season: Year round
Trailhead Elevation: 500 feet
Top Elevation: 850 feet
Local Maps: USGS Bellevue South
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Recent Trail Reviews

3/29/2009
12/6/2008

What a gem! The guidebook is very accurate. This is well hidden in a residential area, but the ravine is large enough and deep enough to feel very secluded. Lots of ferns, moss, small creeks. Great local hike.

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