Friday, January 08, 2010

Squak Mountain trail is a winter delight - Full Article

Wednesday, Jan. 06, 2010
By LYNDA V. MAPES - The Seattle Times

SEATTLE - Between Issaquah Alps' Cougar and Tiger, Seattle's cabin-fever Rx is just waiting to be uncorked: Squak.

Squak Mountain that is, the lesser known, and delectably less-used option between the headliner mountains. Squak, just a half-hour from downtown Seattle, rewards the winter hiker or equestrian dying to get out.

Forget the summer crowds and sweat. It's the winter trails that soothe the soul, too long cooped up in the car, the office, the mall. On a recent frosty morning, the equestrian trails on the south side of the mountain beckoned with their solitude, and bracing refreshment.

Sword ferns and cedar boughs glowed green in the low slanting light of the winter sun. Horses' breath steamed in great white plumes as the animals ascended the trail, and the only sounds were of saddles creaking in the cold, and laughing conversation among the riders. For there is virtually no road noise here.

Easy even for rank beginners, the trail starting out from the Squak Mountain State Park trailhead winds up the mountain through cedars, firs and maples, and an understory lush with ferns.

Even serious, long-distance riders come here for quick refreshers when their schedule doesn't permit a longer trip, said Sue McClain, an endurance trail rider out on her horse for a deep breath of cold,


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