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Hobart - Middle Tiger Railroad Trail

Issaquah Alps

Location

Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain
View map below

Length

10.2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1550 ft.
Highest Point: 2180 ft.

Rating

3.50 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

Hike the routes of two former logging railroads (the Iverson and the Hobart - Middle Tiger) to reach a remote section of Fifteenmile Creek. Follow a short, steep trail to connect with the Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT.) Return via the TMT and on the way, look in on the site of a 1925 logging train wreck.

Begin your hike at the Tiger Summit Trailhead off Highway 18. The Iverson Railroad Trail begins next to the signboard and heads west, climbing 200 feet or so before leveling off. It's a nice forest walk, mostly along the old railroad grade, with a lot of ferns and second-growth trees. In late winter and early spring be alert for the first wildflowers, usually coltsfoot, yellow violets and trilliums.

After 1.5 miles, the Iverson Trail drops a bit and joins the West Side Road (Road 1000,) a gated road used by technicians servicing electronic gear and occasionally, by logging trucks. Continue west along the road. In 0.3 miles note the sign for a trail crossing where the main Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT) arrives, road-like, from the south and continues on trail-like toward the north. The TMT will provide your return route.

For now, continue on Road 1000 an additional 1.6 miles, first climbing a hundred feet, then dropping four hundred feet with some switchbacks before coming to a creek crossing. Formerly it was just a large culvert, but it's been replaced by a heavy-duty concrete-deck bridge.

Just upstream of the bridge, look for a signpost where a small metal sign proclaims "Middle Tiger Trail." At the top of the signpost, above the metal sign, the original wooden sign is still readable, as of 2015. It's one of the most weathered signs in the Tigers, and it acknowledges that the trail also leads to the Hobart - Middle Tiger RR Grade.

Head up the Middle Tiger Trail and, in 0.1 mile, come to a trail fork where a not-quite-so-weathered sign will direct you to the left fork for the Hobart - Middle Tiger RR Grade. The sign also notes that it's 1.4 miles to the site of a "curved trestle," and in the early days of logging an elaborate wooden trestle did cross the creek there. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the trestle today.

The RR grade continues gently uphill. After a rain, tall grasses bordering the trail can make for a damp passage. And low salmonberry bushes may feel prickly to hikers wearing shorts.

After a mile or so you will begin to hear the sounds of Fifteenmile Creek down below. About 1.7 miles from the West Side Road, note a connecting trail heading uphill to the east. A small sign with an arrow pointing straight up proclaims "TMT 1/4."

But first, continue on the RR Grade another 0.1 mile, where the trail comes down to Fifteenmile Creek. It's a pleasant, seemingly-remote setting; a good stopping place for a snack, and you might have the creekside all to yourself. A faint ongoing trail continues on across the creek, heading up toward the 15 Mile RR Grade. That route hasn't made it onto the Green Trails Map yet, but if you have a GPS unit and use the NW Topo map it is shown there. You might keep that ongoing route in mind for a future exploration.

When you are ready to continue with today's loop, backtrack that 0.1 mile and head up the connecting trail toward the TMT. It is steep, but the vertical-pointing arrow is a considerable exaggeration. You soon will find yourself on the TMT, just north of Hal's Cove.

Head south on the TMT, passing other named sites (Denny's Bulge, Joe's Hollow, etc,) each commemorating one of the volunteers who built the TMT in the 1970s. At Millan's Crossing the TMT crosses over the Middle Tiger Trail, here 900 feet higher than where your route left it earlier today. Stay on the TMT.

As you approach Karl's Gap you will skirt the edge of a clear-cut area. If clouds permit, you may have a brief view of Mount Rainier in the distance. The TMT leaves the clear-cut and traverses around the north, west, and south sides of Karl's Peak, then enters the clear-cut area again and descends to a sharp corner at Zeig's Zag.

At the Zag, a bit of muddy side trail crosses a seep and seems to continue on straight ahead. It's worth a five-minute look. In a few feet, a sign proclaims "Artifacts Trail," and in 200 feet it leads to the site of a February 23, 1925, wreck of a logging train. An official-looking sign there identifies the site and lists the historic date.

Most of the wreckage was salvaged at the time, and only a few pieces remain. A set of wheels peers out from beneath a downed tree, and other objects are strewn around. A few feet beyond the wheels, a jumble of metal pieces suggests an abstract metal sculpture. The Artifacts Trail hasn't made it onto the Green Trails Map yet but, once again, if you have a GPS unit and use the NW Topo map it is shown there. The ongoing Artifacts Trail offers no additional train wreckage and it has many blowdowns, so it's best to turn around here, return to the TMT and continue on south.

Soon, you will reach the West Side Road, thus completing the loop part of your hike. From there, return to the Tiger Summit Trailhead the way you came, via the road and the Iverson Railroad Trail.


A Possible Variation: As described above, your hike can begin at the Tiger Summit Trailhead. Alternatively, you could begin at the south end of the TMT along Tiger Mountain Rd SE, although that would add 3.5 miles to your round-trip distance and require an additional 900 feet of elevation gain. From that trailhead, you could follow the TMT all the way to the West Side Road, or could use the South Tiger Traverse for part of the way (or you could go via one route and return via the other.) If these options sound interesting, refer to the Hiking Guide description for the South Tiger Mountain Loop for details.

 

Hobart - Middle Tiger Railroad Trail

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.4808, -121.9663 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain

Iverson Railroad Trail (#TIGER), Hobart - Middle Tiger Railroad Grade (#TIGER), Tiger Mountain Trail (#TIGER)

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

While not a hiking book

the following book is quite interesting as a history of Tiger Mountain logging operations

including railroad grades

from 1910 to 1932. Schmelzer

Ken. "Wood & Iverson: Loggers of Tiger Mountain

" Oso Publications

May 2001. (A small press run

now out of print and available only at rare book prices. Seattle Public Library has two copies

one circulating and one for In-library use only.)

National Geographic Issaquah Alps Mount Si 824

Buy the Green TrailsTiger Mountain No. 204S map

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. Watch for potholes as you leave the pavement, then continue on Road 1000 a quarter mile to reach the trailhead parking area. A toilet is available, but no regular water source. While a Discover Pass is required at the trailhead, if you don't have a Discover Pass an option is to park in the wide area adjacent to Highway 18 and hike the extra quarter mile to the trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Hobart - Middle Tiger Railroad Trail

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