USA Today spotlights Issaquah Alps trails

February 28, 2012

Issaquah Alps peaks and trails garnered national attention Feb. 21 after USA Today featured the Eastside mountains in a travel piece.

The feature outlines trails and points of interest on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — including the long-defunct Nike Ajax missile installation on Cougar Mountain and the paraglider launch site on Tiger Mountain.

“Hiking through Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, on to Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area and into Tiger Mountain State Forest adds mileage but provides a scenic route,” the guide notes.

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USA Today spotlights Issaquah Alps hiking trails

February 22, 2012

NEW — 9 a.m. Feb. 22, 2012

Issaquah Alps peaks and trails garnered some national attention Tuesday after USA Today featured the Eastside mountains in a travel piece.

The piece outlines trails and points of interest on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — including the long-defunct Nike Ajax missile installation on Cougar Mountain and the paraglider launch site on Tiger Mountain.

“Hiking through Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, on to Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area and into Tiger Mountain State Forest adds mileage but provides a scenic route,” the guide notes.

The piece is the latest national recognition for the Issaquah Alps and the mountains’ namesake city.

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Issaquah earns spot on Outside magazine’s Best Towns list

September 20, 2011

Issaquah, long lauded in the Puget Sound region for trailheads and salmon, earned a spot on Outside magazine’s Best Towns 2011 list for abundant outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Adventure amenities make a lot of towns seem dreamy,” notes the article. “What sets these 19 burgs apart is their nod to reality: affordable homes, solid job prospects and vibrant nightlife. Start packing.”

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Issaquah earns spot on Outside magazine’s Best Towns list

September 13, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. Sept. 13, 2011

Issaquah is among 19 cities nationwide on Outside magazine’s Best Towns 2011 list.

The city and others on the list earned plaudits for access to outdoor recreation — Issaquah is described as “a Seattle-area hang-gliding mecca” — and, perhaps, more mundane attributes.

“Adventure amenities make a lot of towns seem dreamy,” notes the article in the October issue. “What sets these 19 burgs apart is their nod to reality: affordable homes, solid job prospects and vibrant nightlife. Start packing.”

Issaquah’s proximity to Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains turned out to be a selling point.

“As Boeing’s and Microsoft’s fastest-growing bedroom community, the former lumber town (pop. 23,200) has experienced a surge in out-of-towners in the past few years,” the article continues. “And for good reason: a 20-minute drive can put you in downtown Seattle or the oyster flats on Puget Sound. An hour away, there’s skiing in the Cascades, kayaking and rafting on the Class IV Skykomish River, and access to a half-dozen steelhead streams.”

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Paraglider pilot plummets to death near Squak Mountain

August 9, 2011

A paraglider pilot plunged to his death Aug. 7 as he attempted to land in a pasture near Issaquah.

Renton resident Kenneth Blanchard, 53, completed hundreds of paraglider flights before the deadly accident.

Seattle Paragliding owner Marc Chirico said Blanchard launched from Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain a couple of hours earlier and planned to land near his home on a “postage stamp of a landing field” in a pasture.

Chirico said Blanchard completed about 300 flights before the accident.

The accident occurred at about 7 p.m. in the 12300 block of 202nd Place Southeast, near the intended landing site. Blanchard plummeted to the ground in the High Valley area southwest of Squak Mountain State Park, about three miles from the usual paraglider landing site along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast.

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Paragliding prompts Issaquah author’s book to take flight

July 26, 2011

Issaquah author Clark McCann readily admits that lowering his sights helped him reach his goal of getting his first novel into print.

Issaquah author Clark McCann said when he was younger he used to write poetry for ‘little magazines’ that nobody read. By Tom Corrigan

“I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to try to create art,’” said McCann, who added he likes thrillers, is an avid paraglider pilot and has spent time in Mexico.

So his novel “Black Air,” published this spring by Black Rose Writing, is a fictional thriller about Tom Shepard, a combat veteran and paraglider pilot who travels to Mexico for an international paragliding event and ends up crossing paths with a local drug dealer. After being framed for murder, Shepard spends the rest of the novel hunting for the man who set him up and, as any good hero would, winning the girl he meets along the way.

McCann said that even though he wasn’t out to write the Great American Novel with “Black Air,” he took the time to carefully plot out the book before he started writing. McCann added he had tried to write novels in his youth, but often “wrote himself into a corner” or just gave up.

A seemingly young 68, McCann spent the largest part of his professional life writing in one way or another. He served as director of communications for the University of Washington Business School and while at The Boeing Co., wrote speeches for the firm’s corporate leaders, as well as creating things like annual reports. He also worked as Boeing’s corporate director of advertising.

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Tiger Mountain trails close for construction, timber sale

July 12, 2011

Tiger Mountain hikers and paragliding enthusiasts should expect trail closures and increased traffic on a forest road amid construction and a summer timber sale.

The timber harvest and road construction required the state Department of Natural Resources to close a 1.6-mile section of Tiger Mountain Trail from the Middle Tiger Trail junction south toward the West Side Road trail junction.

The activity could also require the agency to close a segment of the West Side Road, just west of the Iverson Railroad Grade Trail to allow road bridge construction across Holder Creek. (The creek joins Carey Creek to form Issaquah Creek.)

In addition, short-term closures of the west end of the Iverson Railroad Grade Trail could also be required during road bridge installation.

The closure is expected to continue through October and next summer as well. The timber sale activity in Tiger Mountain State Forest started June 24.

Hikers should use the Middle Tiger Trail and travel the West Side Road to bypass the closed Tiger Mountain Trail segment. Forest mangers reminded hikers to use caution near the timber sale site. The agency is also posting updates for hikers at www.dnr.wa.gov/recreationeducation.

Construction, timber sale affect Tiger Mountain trail access

July 5, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. July 5, 2011

Tiger Mountain hikers and paragliding enthusiasts should expect trail closures and increased traffic on a forest road amid construction and a summer timber sale.

The timber harvest and road construction required the state Department of Natural Resources to close a 1.6 mile section of Tiger Mountain Trail from the Middle Tiger Trail junction south toward the West Side Road trail junction.

The activity could also require the agency to close a segment of the West Side Road, just west of the Iverson Railroad Grade Trail to allow road bridge construction across Holder Creek. (The creek joins Carey Creek to form Issaquah Creek.)

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Step off of Tiger Mountain at 1,800 feet and take flight — with a paraglider

July 2, 2011

Seattle Paragliding tandem instructor Matt Amend and owner Marc Chirico help a paraglider pilot launch from Poo Poo Point. By Caleb Heeringa

You know that dream where you’re flying — where you’re able to look down on the hustle and bustle of the earth from thousands of feet above and the problems that normally seem so big are now as small and insignificant as ants?

The dream is real for the paraglider pilots who launch off the west side of Tiger Mountain every day that it’s not raining buckets. For more than 20 years, Marc Chirico has been throwing people off the side of the mountain — with paraglider and emergency parachute attached, of course.

It’s a career that started as a hobby that started with a dream that many of us have had — to drift above it all.

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20 reasons to ♥ Issaquah

July 2, 2011

The spectacular landscape is a reason to love Issaquah. By Connor Lee

Discover 20 reasons to love Issaquah, from the highest Tiger Mountain peak to the Lake Sammamish shoreline, and much more in between. The community includes icons and traits not found anywhere else, all in a postcard-perfect setting. The unique qualities — Issa-qualities? — start at the city’s name and extend into every nook and neighborhood. (The lineup is not arranged in a particular order, because ranking the city’s pre-eminent qualities seems so unfair.)

Salmon Days

The annual salmon-centric celebration is stitched into the city’s fabric. Salmon Days serves as a last hurrah before autumn, a touchstone for old-timers and a magnet for tourists. The street fair consistently ranks among the top destinations in the Evergreen State and, for a time last year, as the best festival on earth — in the $250,000-to-$749,000 budget category, anyway.

Issaquah Alps

The majestic title for the forested peaks surrounding the city, the Issaquah Alps, is a catchall term for Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains. (Credit the late mountaineer and conservationist Harvey Manning for the sobriquet.) The setting is a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Trails — some official and others less so — for hikers, bikers and equestrians crisscross the mountains, like haphazard tic-tac-toe patterns.

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