Little Si trail offers hikers something new on each trip
July 12, 2011
By Christopher Huber
As hikers approached the final uphill stretch of the Little Si trail, the downy woodpecker curiously peered around a tree and scooted up the side, pecking lightly at the bark.
People continued up the minor switchback and the black-and-white bird with a red crest spread its wings and swooped over to another tree near the trail. It seemed accustomed to the regular foot traffic as it alertly spied on passers-by from just a few feet off the trail.
While the woodpecker might be the only wildlife you encounter during a trip up the rocky mountain face, the 4.4-mile Little Si trail will make you want to return — and probably soon.
Beth and Duane Carlson, of Bellevue, have come back a dozen times, they said while basking in the midday sun July 6.
The couple was planning to catch up on some yard work that morning, but the limited prospect of having another 80-degree day turned their thoughts toward the mountains.
“I was like, ‘You know what, let’s go hiking,’” said Beth, an avid outdoorswoman at 60.
And although he wanted to get work done in the yard, Duane said it didn’t take much convincing to change his mind.
“It took her two sentences to talk me out of doing yard work,” said Duane, 71, a retired doctor.
The Little Si trail, one of the more popular hikes in King County, along with the famed Mount Si trail, starts out steep, levels out a bit and tests hikers of all ages with a steep and rough finish.
At 2.2 miles each way, hikers can do the trail in a couple of hours at a brisk pace. But the views of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley all along the route slow many down, as apparent on a midday Wednesday.
From the trailhead, you head straight up into the forest on a rocky path. Within 10 minutes, you’ll get a glance of Rattlesnake Ledge across the Valley. The thick second-growth forest provides needed shade on a hot day and levels out after about .3 miles. Stay left at the junction with the Boulder Loop Trail.
At about 1.5 miles you’ll pass the rock-climbing section to the left. You might hear unidentified voices echoing through the forest, but the ropes dangling from clips in the rock face give them away. Stay right at the “Y” in the trail — climbers scramble up the left side to reach their rope-up points.
The final mile is rock and root laden and steep, so make sure to hydrate and tighten your shoes before the ascent. When not looking down to watch your step, take in the glimpses of Mount Si to the east and the Valley to the south. Stop and listen to the gentle breeze whisk through the trees.
It’s self-explanatory at the top. If it’s clear, you will have 180-degree views of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley and North Bend. Dragonflies flit about and chipmunks may clamor for crumbs of your sandwich.
Sit. Eat. Gaze. Explore.
The rock face of Little Si provides ample space for dozens of visitors to find their own quiet spot.
- Roundtrip: 4.4 miles
- Highest point: 1,576 feet
- Elevation gain: 1,200 feet
- Maps and guidebooks: Green Trails Mount Si No. 174 and Bandera No. 206; Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson and Bauer – Mountaineers Books)
Source: Washington Trails Association, Mountaineers Books
Take Interstate 90 east to Exit 32 (436th Avenue Southeast). Turn left and drive over the freeway. After a half-mile, turn left onto North Bend Way. In a quarter-mile, turn right onto Mount Si Road. Cross the bridge and the first parking lot will be on your left. Another parking lot (closer to the main trailhead) is located about 1,000 feet down the road.
Allow three to five hours for the driveway-to-driveway roundtrip, depending on your desired pace on the trail and whether you have children or pets with you. Dogs are allowed on a leash. To park you need a Washington State Discover Pass; get one at www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.