Cougar Mountain - Red Town Trail

Bellevue, Washington
Cougar Mountain - Red Town Trail
Length : 1.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain : 170 ft.
Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park contains 38 miles of hiking trails within the 3,115 acre park, with the Red Town trail providing an easy hike through a beautiful forest with a crossing of Coal Creek at the end. It can be combined with a number of other trails to create a loop from the Red Town trailhead, including the Coal Creek Falls.

From the Red Town trailhead, look for signage for the Red Town Trail (there are four other trails that start at the Red Town trailhead, like China Creek and Military Road). Follow the Red Town trail to the end and return, or combine with any number of other trails that connect with the Red Town trail to complete a loop.

Directions

Heading east on I-90, take exit 10A to merge onto I-405 S toward Renton and in 1.1 miles, take exit 10 for Coal Creek Pkwy toward Factoria Blvd SE. Turn left onto Coal Creek Pkwy SE and in 1.1. miles turn left onto Forest Dr SE. After proceeding for 2.1 miles, turn right onto Lakemont Blvd SE. In a half mile, look for the Red Town trailhead on your left.

Parking

There is a good sized parking lot at the Red Town Trailhead with space for roughly 40 cars, however this is a very popular hiking destination and it can fill up on busy weekends. No parking passes are required.
 

September 5, 2021 Trip Report

 
Type : hike
Length : 3.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain : 570 ft.
High Point : 1,040 ft.
I can’t believe in my nearly twenty years in the Seattle area that I have never hiked around Cougar Mountain. I always seem to be drawn to bigger hikes in the area, but now with a 6 year old child, the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park seemed like a great fit. There are so many different trails criss-crossing the Cougar Mountain Recreation Area, I was a little overwhelmed when trying to find a hike. But I finally settled on the Red Town Trailhead, and decided I would wing it - show up, start hiking and figure it out along the way.
We pulled into the lot, and while it was already starting to fill up, we found a spot that happened to be near the start of Military Road Trail. After getting ready, we headed out on the trail and it went steadily up. I had mistakenly thought most of the trails around here were relatively flat, but that proved not to be the case. It was a relatively moderate incline, but steady enough that my family let me know it wasn’t flat! We eventually decided to venture onto Red Town Creek Trail for a break from the incline.
Crossing a small bridge on Red Town Creek Trail
Crossing a small bridge on Red Town Creek Trail
We saw a couple of cool trees with what looked like multiple trunks intertwined and stopped to snap some photos. Pretty soon we realized those trees are everywhere. I had cell phone reception, so it was easy to look at my phone and plot our path forward.
Large tree along the trail
Large tree along the trail
Hiding in the trees
Hiding in the trees
We merged onto Cave Hole Trail and then veered right onto Coal Creek Falls Trail before finally arriving at Coal Creek Falls. There was no water flowing - but I expected as much as I had read a couple of recent trip reports on the Washington Trail Association website. There were a number of groups taking a break, and we decided to follow suit, locating a large fallen log to rest on while eating our lunch.
Bridge next to Coal Creek Falls
Bridge next to Coal Creek Falls
After our lunch break, while descending the switchbacks on Coal Creek Falls Trail and my son took it upon himself to start going far ahead of us. I was a little worried he might take a wrong turn - with so many intersections, that could be a big problem. But he agreed to wait at each intersection, and upon reaching the intersection with Quarry Trail, we found him patiently waiting for us.
Walking along the Quarry Trail
Walking along the Quarry Trail
After a short stint on Indian Trail lead, we merged onto Red Town Trail, and made our way back to the car. Red Town Trail was a good way to wrap up the hike - it was wide and virtually no incline.
My son far ahead on the Red Town Trail
My son far ahead on the Red Town Trail
A little fall color along Red Town Trail
A little fall color along Red Town Trail
Great to finally explore around Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park, and the sheer number of trails available gives you a lot of options for different hikes.