To access the Old Trail, start at the Little Si
trailhead (if the trailhead lot is full, head to the overflow lot a few hundred feet down the road). Follow the Little Si
trail past the first entrance to the Boulder Garden Loop Trail and on to the other end of the loop. Take the Boulder Garden Trail up past the namesake boulders and mossy outcroppings, being watchful for a rough trail leading up to the summit that appears about halfway along the route. This is the Old Trail. When you return, we recommend completing the loop, just for the change of scenery.
Once on the Old Trail, the path is straightforward: up. This trail is rougher and steeper than the newer incarnation, but there is also a lot less hiking traffic. We met quite a few folks on the way up, but nothing remotely comparable to the press of humanity on the normal route. The unexpected near-solitude gives one a chance to take in the surrounding forest and glimpse the occasional wildlife that can be overwhelmed by company. The Old Trail nearly merges with the new trail about three-quarters of the way up veterans will recognize the popular resting point but avoid the familiar and head back into the trees. In another mile or so, the trails intersect near the rocky top. As always, the rocks and boulders will be full, as Mr. Manning colorfully put it, of a fresh crop of bananas. Find a vacant spot and have a snack. Depending on the clouds, you should be able to pick out nearby Mailbox Peak, Mt. Washington
, and Rattlesnake Ledge
while looking down on North Bend below. If youre up for it and the conditions are right, push on to the Haystack.
This is a great conditioning trail: its not only a little bit more secluded, its also shorter. This route cuts a little over a mile off the trip to the top, maximizing the elevation gain and minimizing the time. Of course, the Old Trail is not the smooth ride of the New Trail, made possible by thousands of volunteer hours and millions of boots. We recommend this alternative for anyone looking for the Si experience with a slight twist, or those training up for a bigger hike, but not for those hikers looking for something really different. The Old Trail doesnt have too many secrets to offer up, and unsurprisingly feels like an older, grittier version of the Mount Si Trail.
Back in 1931, William Taylor, an early North Bend pioneer, plotted out and helped construct the first official trail up Mount Si. This trial, known then as the Taylor Memorial Trail, was the primary path to the summit at least until the 1970s. In 1977, Washington State created the Mount Si Conservation Area in an effort to protect the iconic peak from overzealous lumber and mining operations. In 1987, the Conservation Area was expanded and dubbed the Mount Si Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA). Accounts vary, but at some point in the late seventies or early eighties, the Department of Natural Resources replaced the old trail, and local hiking groups such as the Washington Trail Association almost immediately took on caretaking responsibilities of New Trail as it continued to rise in popularity. The New Trail was renovated in 1993, and WTA recently completed a major re-excavation of over 8,000 feet of trail in 2006.