Squak Mountain State Park is part of the Issaquah (Issy) Alps range located between Cougar Mountain and Tiger Mountain, just a short drive east of Seattle. “It’s an underrated and underappreciated little giant with 1590 acres with approximately 30 miles of trail,” says Kent trail runner Christopher Gregory. “I think one of my favorite things about Squak is that it is unpopular. I can run there for hours and see less than a handful of people. You can go there for under 2 hours and get in over 3000 feet of gain.”
Squak has five trailheads: May Valley, Margaret’s Way, Bullit Fireplace, Sunrise, & Sycamore. “There are 3 peaks,” according to Gregory. “Central (2024′) has microwave towers, and there are multiple ways to access this peak, elevation 2000 feet. There is occasionally a view in the fall & winter. West Peak (1995′) is somewhat primitive. There are a broken-down structure and a small wooden sign on a tree that says ‘West Peak’ Here, the view is the trees. Southeast Peak (1673′) is an out & back trail, that if you did not know it was there, you would pass right by. There is plenty of overgrowth Salal & even some low Holly so that your shins thank you for each visit. Southeast does have a small blue tube for visitor registration, so that’s a bonus.”
“I run here often, sometimes 4 times a week. Why? I find it mysterious, beautiful, and challenging. I first ran here a few years ago, starting at May Valley Trailhead, running either up the gravel road or the May Valley loop. The gravel road is excellent hill training, getting in 1700 ft of gain in under 3 miles. The May Valley loop is challenging either clockwise or anticlockwise. It wasn’t until I got lost on Phil’s Creek trail in the winter that I truly became fascinated & mystified by all these hidden gems off the beaten path.”
The May Valley trailhead is the main entrance to the park and requires a Discover Pass or pay at the parking booth.
Squak Trail Runs
Best of Squak Half Marathon Route is a route from Christopher Gregory he used for his Best of Squak Half Marathon.
The Sunrise Lollipop Loop uses the Squak Mountain Access Trail from the Sunrise Trailhead and summits the West and Central Peak.
A way to run around the park is the May Valley Loop – This loop starts at the May Valley Trailhead and has one long climb to start and an equally long descent to finish.
Squak Mountain 50k, Half Marathon, and 12k from Evergreen Trails start from the May Valley trailhead and reaches both the Central and West Peaks. The 50k has a whopping 10,600 feet of climbing.
Trail Running Groups
Run Determined frequently meets at Squak Mountain and other Issy Alps trails. Carson Trey Styron inspires run Determined. On June 5, 2016, Carson passed away at 13 after being involved in an ATV accident.
This tragedy inspired the Carson Trey Styron Foundation, a charity created by the Styron family.
Issaquah Coffee in Gilman Village serves coffee, pastries, and other breakfast items.
Koffee Sutra – An espresso drive-thru with a large selection of pastries and breakfast sandwiches if you are in a hurry.
Caffe Ladro is a Seattle coffee chain with a location in Issaquah’s Grand Ridge Plaza. The outdoor seating offers views of the valley.
Located in Issaquah just a few miles from Margaret’s Way Trailhead, Formula Brewing has a taproom and beer garden with a rotating tap list of everything from Imperial Raspberry Nut Browns to Mexican Lagers along with grubby pizza, wings, and salads.
Big Block Brewing in Sammamish has an outdoor patio in its taproom to enjoy the award-winning Raspberry Blonde and other beers on its 20 taps.
About a mile from the Sunrise trailhead, the Sunset Ale House is a perfect meet up after running the trails. Sunset Alehouse offers many local brews and traditional brewpub food.