Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hiking Little Si: Shorter and Almost as Sweet as Mt. Si

For years I bypassed Little Si as I hiked all over the Upper Snoqualmie Valley east of Seattle, going for more arduous (Mt. Si) and less traveled (Cedar Butte) and formerly less traveled (Rattlesnake Ledge/Ridge) routes instead.  Too crowded, not enough of a workout, I reasoned. 
But I've mellowed and learned a thing or two over the years:  Appreciate the beauty wherever you go, for starters.  With the right timing, any walk in the woods to a spectacular view is splendid.  And Little Si offers lovely woods to walk through enroute to a glorious panorama.  

Upper Snoqualmie Valley, looking southeast from summit of Little Si, Middle Fork valley in the foreground.

So when some girlfriends and I decide on a quick hike last weekend, I'm the one who actually suggests Little Si.  Why not?  I always love going places I've never been before, whether it's halfway across the world or a new (for me) hiking trail close to home.

"We should beat the church crowd, " says Julie when we arrive at what we think is fairly early on a Sunday, 9 a.m.  Ha, already we have to park in the overflow lot. "Isn't Seattle one of the least church-going major cities in the U.S.?" I remind Julie. 

It's just a short walk to the trailhead.  Then we start up what is initially a rocky trail through second-growth forest, with a decent uphill stretch for third mile or so.

Then the trail levels out into classic Northwest second-growth lowland forest, with lots of alder, Doug fir, western red cedar, and hemlock. After about a half mile we get peek-a-boo views up to the behemoth next door, Mt. Si. (No decent shot though.)

Maybe three-quarters to a mile on, we enter a patch of forest that feels enchanted.  A thick layer of moss covers downed logs and boulders, and a profusion of lush green sword ferns engulfs the forest floor.

"This seems like Hobbit land," says Nanette.  I feel it, too.

We skirt past an exposed rock wall to our left and spy several rock climbers in various stages of scaling the wall.  Maybe next trip. :)

As we near the summit, the trail wraps around the other side of the peak and the forest thins. At times the trail is a bit rough, but it's not bad overall.

Step carefully!
And before we know it, we top out at the 1,576-foot-high summit, which is littered with clusters of hikers on various rock outcrops.  Then we nibble some snacks and enjoy the views.

Looking southeast to North Bend and Rattlesnake Ridge.

When we get back to the parking lot, the overflow lot is full and cars wait for us to leave for a space.  You can get annoyed by the crowds on some popular trails, but I like it that so many Northwesterners are getting out, enjoying nature, and maybe developing solid environmental values as well.  Maybe that little kid we passed is a future Green Peace activist.

And no hike in the Mountains to Sound Greenway near North Bend and beyond is complete without a stop at local institution Scott's Dairy Freeze.  Today it's my treat.

Small hot fudge sundae at Scott's Dairy Freeze
Mt. Si towers over Scott's and North Bend.

When You Go
Here's a link to the excellent Washington Trails Association hiking guide for Little Si, with directions and details.  They say it's a 5-mile roundtrip hike, but it didn't feel that long. Another source says it's 4.4 miles RT.  Regardless, Little Si is a nice little hike.  The elevation gain is a little over 1,200 feet.  If you can, go early or late and go on a weekday.  Little Si is about 30 miles east of Seattle in North Bend just north of Interstate 90.


Ingunn said...

Little Si isn't my favorite, but I DO love that stretch of Hobbit forest.

Suezy P said...

Glad you went for it Jill...fun post! Gorgeous forest. See any gnomes? Fairies?

jill i said...

I hear you Ingunn. I still feel drawn to higher, alpine environments/hikes more off the beaten path.

jill i said...

Thanks Suezy! Ha, could have been some fairies lurking about, maybe in the form of the puffball of a dog that trotted past.

Ron said...

Promise to take me there, Jill!

John said...

I like Little Si for a short, close in hike. I did it on Easter morning a few years ago and found plastic eggs scattered around the summit with little prizes inside.

Lesley said...

Hi Jill,
Last went there on June 25, 2011 with a large group (20+) for Holly's father-in-law's 70th birthday. He set the goal months in advance and started training/conditioning. As a surprise, my mother and I got T-shirts made commemorating the event... and we all showed up wearing them that morning. After the surprise reveal of the shirts, we gave Phil (the birthday boy) his own shirt and off we went. Fun day and a good memory!
p.s. If I can dig out the photo of the group, I'll e-mail it to you just for fun. :)

jill i said...

For sure Ron! Next time you're in Seattle stay a couple days, so many great hikes. Safe travels.

jill i said...

You're Easter hike there sounds delightful John. Maybe it was the Hobbits:).

jill i said...

that is so cool Lesley!

Unknown said...

I really enjoy doing Little Si on a weeknight when there is hardly anyone there and you can watch the sun set. I love watching the rock climbers and their amazing skills, too!