Total Ascent: 1900ft (1750ft in; 150ft out)
Highest Point: 1900ft
Total Distance: 6.6 miles
Location: N 47° 31.163, W 122° 01.778
Required Permit: None
This time of year, snowbound trailheads and forest roads push us toward winter walks on urban trails. These walks are a great chance to do a little exploring in our backyard and enjoy familiar forests without their usual abundance of greenery. Recently we decided to head back to Poo Poo Point, but wanted a different approach. The High School Trail was the perfect choice.
The trail begins from the 2nd Avenue Trailhead, following the Rainier Trail around the edges of the Issaquah High School sports fields. After .2 miles, you will arrive at the signed High School Trail junction. Although the sign states that Poo Poo Point is 3.8 miles down the trail, the actual distance is closer to 3.1. Veer right and enter a young forest dominated by red alder and sword fern. The wide, well-trodden trail soon begins to climb steadily upward, crossing over the Tiger Mountain State Forest boundary at the .5 mile mark. In another .3 tenths a mile reach a junction with the Adventure Trail, the first of a rapid secession of trail junctions on this route. Continue straight ahead and almost immediately find yourself leaving the forest and crossing under power lines. At .9 miles from the trailhead pass the junction with the Bonneville Grade and head back into the shelter of the forest. In a few hundred feet reach an intersection where the Gas Line, Section Line and Poo Poo Point trails cross. Head right, following the sign pointing toward Poo Poo Point.
From here the trail steepens and occasionally switchbacks as it works its way up Tiger Mountain’s shoulders. After 1.7 miles of climbing reach the West Tiger Railroad Grade and your last trail junction. Here the One View Trail, West Tiger Railroad Grade and the Poo Poo Point Trail intersect. Head right, toward Poo Poo Point, following the trail as it descends from the heights you just finished climbing before leveling out. At 3.3 miles reach Poo Poo Point and expansive views of Issaquah and Lake Sammamish. The forested hills to the west are Squawk Mountain’s Southeast and Central Peaks, with the Olympics rising in the distance behind them. On good days you can see Mt. Baker to the north. If you’re lucky, you may even find some hang gliders getting ready to launch themselves out into the open air. Take a few minutes to enjoy the view.
If Poo Poo Point is your goal, the High School Trail is a decent year-round alternate to the more crowded Chirico Trail. With enough elevation gain to get your blood moving, the trail is a great option for conditioning or trail running. What it lacks in wilderness appeal is made up for with its easy access and approachability. During the winter months, snow adds extra challenge and adventure to this normally tame trail. There is enough foot traffic that the snow is quickly compacted, which can make some sections of the trail slick and treacherous. Bring along your microspikes to make the climb a little easier. If you’re a Poo Poo Point veteran and are looking for something a little different, give the High School Trail a try.
To get there, take I-90 out to Exit 17. Take a right onto Front Street and drive 1.6 miles to 2nd Avenue. Take a left at the signal and find the 2nd Avenue Trailhead immediately on your right. Limited parking. - Nathan
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