Looking for a workout? Look no further than this thigh-burning climb up to the summit of West Tiger #3.
Total Distance: 4.8 miles Total Ascent: 2042ft Highest Point: 2522ft
Difficulty: Hard Our Hiking Time: 2h 15m Required Permit: None
To get there, take I-90 to exit 20. Take a right and immediately take another right onto the frontage road leading to the West Tiger Mountain parking area. Find a small parking area just before the gated gravel road or on the shoulder. View Google Directions >>
The trail beings from an unsigned trailhead off the West Tiger frontage road located a short way east of the gated gravel road marked by some fairly large boulders. The narrow path quickly climbs up through a forest of big leaf maple and alder before crossing under a set of power lines and re-entering the woods. From here, the trail angle straight up the shoulders of the mountain.
The trail is best thought of as a series of three hills with some short plateaus between them. The first hill is at once the least intense and arguably most treacherous. Often slick and muddy, the climb can be a little tricky depending on how recently it rained. About halfway up this hill youll pass a sign letting you know that no one officially maintains the Cable Line, though you will have likely already come to this conclusion by now. Climb up the rest of the hill to reach a short plateau that makes for a good resting point. Ahead the second hill begins, which makes up the bulk of the work on the hike. The trail widens here, allowing you to create mini-switchbacks in the trail if needed. Keep pressing ever upward to reach the next plateau, which is significantly longer allowing you a little rest before hitting the rocky home stretch. The last push is a narrow, rocky climb with plenty of loose stone. Youll know when youre near the top when you reach the signed junction with the West Tiger Mountain #3 trail. Beyond this sign its a straight shot to the top, the trail quickly delivering you to the 2522 summit, which looks roughly to the southwest. On a good day Mt. Rainier peers out from around a bluff to the south and the end of Lake Washington can be seen with I-90 stretching across it. We recommend heading back down via the West Tiger #3 trail, as descending the Cable Line is challenging and time consuming as you slowly work your way down the steepest sections.
This is a grueling uphill slog, making it a perfect hike for training and conditioning or just getting in a good workout. It also means that there is little time to enjoy the scenery, as you focus on making your way up the steep slopes. If youre looking to explore the mountain and take in the landscape, we recommend sticking with the West Tiger #3 trail.