Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Between Peaks: Squak Mountain

Squak Mountain washington
View of Mt. Rainier from Debbie’s View lookout on Squak Mountain in the Issaquah Alps.

Between Peaks: Squak Mountain

If you live in Washington state, you’ve probably heard about Squak Mountain on Seattle’s KING radio and TV stations. After all, those mediums were owned and managed by the Bullitt family for years, and Charles Stimson “Stim” Bullitt built a cabin near the top of Squak — the mountain is part of the Issaquah Alps. Built in 1952, the cabin wasn’t bustling with life and eventually fell into disrepair, vandalized repeatedly, and eventually burned with the stone fireplace still standing strong. Later, the Bullitt family donated the land to the state to form the nucleus of Squak Mountain State Park and immortalized with the Bullitt Fireplace Trail leading to the top of Squak.

From the trailhead nestled in an Issaquah neighborhood, the Bullitt Fireplace Trail heads steadily uphill for two miles through trees, ferns, moss, multiple trail marker signs, and a few remaining wildflowers (end of June) to the fireplace. With a Campfire Crowler crowler of Old Schoolhouse Between Peaks IPA — the Peaks & Pints’ 2021-22 house beer — nestled in our backpack, we extended the hike 0.3 miles to reach the 2024-foot “summit” of Central Peak, the highest point on Squak Mountain, which ends at communication towers, fencing, barbed wire, threatening trespassing signs and a small microwave chained to the fence full of knick-knacks left by previous hikers. There isn’t a view … yet.

microwave on top of Squak Mountain
This microwave on top of Squak Mountain awaits for your treasures.

View From Squak Mountain

After a few sips of the Between Peaks IPA, head back down the Central Peak Trail the way you came then turn right on the Old Griz Trail then hike 0.7 miles through the beautiful forest to Debbie’s View lookout for views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding foothills.

There are many trails and trail markers on Squak Mountain. We hiked it as a loop — Bullitt Fireplace Trail, to Central Peak, then back on the Bullitt Fireplace Trail, to Chybinski, to West Peak, with deviation to Debbie’s View. It’s roughly a 6-mile hike with 1,325 feet elevation gain. The Bullitt Fireplace Trail is roughly a 4-mile out-and-back trail.

Between Peaks IPA

The top of Squak Mountain doesn’t have beer taps, which means you’ll have to bring your own. There’s nothing better gazing at the beautiful view after a 2,024-foot vertical hike than cracking open an Old Schoolhouse Brewery Between Peaks IPA with hiking companions. It feels like the cherry on top when enjoying views you trekked to see with flavors of pine and citrus taking you to euphoria.

Getting There: From Tacoma, Take I-5 to 405 to I-90 then take Exit 17 in Issaquah, head south on Front Street through the picturesque old part of town. At the traffic light at Sunset Way, turn right. In 0.2 miles cross Southeast Newport Way, then bear left onto Mountain Park Boulevard Southwest. This street changes direction abruptly several times. In about 0.7 miles bear left onto Mountainside Drive Southwest. In about 0.3 miles, where the street makes a very sharp turn to the left, pull into the small parking area on the right. There isn’t a posted Discover Pass requirement at the trailhead, but we didn’t take a chance and displayed our Discover Pass. Official park hours are summer, 6:30 a.m. to dusk; winter, 8 a.m. to dusk.

LINK: Between Peaks — Hiking With Old Schoolhouse Beers

LINK: Hiking With Beer

Charles Stimson “Stim” Bullitt’s cabin’s fireplace still stands on Squak Mountain.