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Coal Creek Falls - De Leo Wall Loop - Cougar Mountain

Our Hiking Time: 2h 30m
Total Ascent: 800ft
Highest Point: 1100ft
Total Distance: 5.5 miles
Location: N 47° 32.0760, W 122° 7.7220
Required Permit: None
Difficulty: Easy

Nathan's PhotoLingering holiday obligations kept us from venturing too far from home this week. Instead, we headed out to Cougar Mountain and the Red Town Trailhead to tour a different portion of the sprawling park.

cougar mountain cold creek falls hikingwithmybrotherCougar Mountain’s friendly greenery gives little indication of the industrial history of the area. Back in 1863, coal was discovered on Cougar Mountain. Over the next 100 years, miners would pull 11 million tons of coal from the mountain before finally sealing the mines in 1963. All that coal prompted folks to dub the area "Newcastle Hills," after England's coal-rich city of Newcastle. Soon, Newcastle Hills coal drove the the creation of Seattle's first railroad, which hauled coal from Cougar Mountain out to Lake Washington and eventually Elliot Bay. Mining towns cropped up around shafts bored into the mountain. One of those settlements was Red Town, named for the color most of the buildings were painted. The current Red Town Trail largely follows what was then Hill Street, the town's main thoroughfare running past houses, schools and businesses. Most of these settlements faded away as the coal industry declined in the 1920s, and by the time World War II was over, neighbors sought to move beyond the area's mining past, and renamed it Cougar Mountain. Today, with a little effort, one can still find the rusting artifacts, lingering cement foundations, and abandoned equipment of those bygone industries. More likely than not, a friendly interpretative sign will be nearby to lend historical context to many of the lingering traces of Cougar Mountain's past.

With 36 miles of official trails and many more miles of “unofficial” or abandoned trails, there is a lot to see on Cougar Mountain. We mapped out a rough route taking us up to the De Leo Wall and past Coal Creek Falls, though it required hop-scotching between a surprising number of cougar mountain cold creek falls hikingwithmybrothertrails. Fortunately, trails are coded and well signed, keeping confusion down to a minimum.

We took the Wildside Trail towards De Leo Wall, a rocky outcropping that affords something of a view of the surrounding housing developments. Trails are well maintained by thousands of booted feet and an army of volunteers. Alders and hemlocks dominate the low forest riddled with streamlets and occasional bogs. On our way back down from the wall we hooked over to see the underwhelming Far Country Falls before pushing on to Coal Creek Falls. The Coal Creek Falls Trail is mild and contains few ups and downs, making it a perfect trail for the kids or trail running, both of which were in attendance on a rainy Sunday morning. The 25’ falls can make a good rest stop along the route or are a popular destination in and of themselves.

While not our usual high-adventure, Cougar Mountain does manage to have a little something tcougar mountain cold creek falls hikingwithmybrothero offer everyone – history, waterfalls, miles of trail, and accessibility for the whole family. Heck, there’s even a zoo. Proximity to the city means there will be a lot of folks to share the trail with, though it isn’t too difficult to head out to more remote parts of the park to find some peace and quiet.

To get there, take I-90 to Exit 13. Head right up the hill on Lakemont Boulevard just over three miles. Look for the entrance to the Red Town Trailhead on the left side of the road. - Nathan
< Cold Creek Falls - De Leo Wall


christine said...

Beautiful waterfall...I look forward to seeing this in the spring or summer!

Silver Purl said...

We did this hike yesterday with our two dogs. It had been years since I hiked this area...We had a wonderful time! Who would have thought that we'd be sitting on the ground in shirt sleeves and sun in Feb!
BUT, for a lady with girth and age issues this was not an easy hike. The hill up to the viewpoint and Quarry Trail up to the turn was a struggle for me. It was easy for my husband who bikes regularly. But...I did it and I'm stoked to do it again!

Nathan said...

We are glad to hear you took a stab at this one - Cougar Mountain has a lot to offer, and not all of it is viewpoints and inclines. For instance, you can hit the Anti-Aircraft Trailhead and explore Coguar Mountain from top to bottom! Check it out here: http://www.hikingwithmybrother/2008/12/cougar-mountain-122108.html

Anonymous said...

My fiance and I did this hike today and though it was great. I would rate it a little more to the moderate side rather than easy, just because there is a fair amount of steeper terrain throughout the hike, but all the trails are beautifully maintained and clearly marked. We followed this route exactly and loved it. Great route!

Jer said...

Anonymous, I'm glad you enjoyed the route and had a good hike! Thanks for following the blog! We really appreciate the support!

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