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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bear Creek Wild Area

The last two weekends I have not wanted to stray too far afield as my car is ailing. I paid visits to Cougar Mountain Wildland Regional Park/ Bear Creek Wild Area. It is close to home and popular with hikers runners and horse riders. This trough is fed by a nearby stream and signed for horses and dogs use.

I love this park as it has almost 35 miles of trails in its 3000+ acres. Major trails are well used but a lot of the smaller trails offer solitude.

This mountain was home to many of the early coal mines which flourished then quickly died out. You can still find evidence of mining activity. All over the complex there are caved in mine shafts which require some interesting signs. Notice the lower sign the man on the right actually has lungs and an airway included in the illustration.

There are random bits of machinery left behind including this interesting pipe made from a log bound with wire.

One meadow is being restored and it is known that this was the neighborhood baseball diamond. It is still possible to see shaft entrances, old rails and heavy equipment.

A majority of the area however is simply woodlands criss-crossed by creeks and studded with waterfalls. They are not big but their appear as if out of nowhere. You can hear them as you draw near and most have a nice viewing platform or handy bridge.

Far Country falls tumbles over a rock edge and has a nice broad face. I wish my photos from that vantage had turned out.

Up from Far Country there is a view away to the west. That is the "far country" and now the view is dominated by the homes of Bellevue. I imagine on a rare , very clear day one could see the Olympic Mountains from here. Now it is just smoggy haze.

Doughty Falls crashes over a rock face and unfortunately today it was not running large.

The creek has really carved itself a deep seat.

Up above there is a nice little platform bridge made from sliced log. I love these as they have you so close to the water.

There are a lot of rock and boulder faces which remain from the glacial era. Here one need not go around two large boulders, the trail just goes between them.

While most of the woodland here is the typical mixed conifer with Douglas Fir and Hemlock dominating, every once in a while you come across a grove of pure Red Alder. This is not a feature I see a lot in the regional forests.

Bear Creek Falls are the showpiece and you earn the view in a hefty hike up.

Many of the trails here can offer a great workout and I managed 7 miles in three hours today. Not so steep and punishing as hikes in the higher Cascades, but a great walk with some good slope thrown in.

I am looking forward to visiting later in the Spring. There are several areas of marshes and I would love to see what kind of orchids might lurk here.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see that you have been able to get back to hiking again. How great that you have 3,000 acres of territory to explore, so close to home. That last picture reminds me of all of the wonderful mosses that you have there. We have nothing like that around here and I so admire the jewel-like colors that cover everything.