Distance: varies (my hike: 2.6 miles)
Elevation gain: varies (my hike: ~180 ft)
Directions, map, and more information on the park website.
I’m continuing my Hike-a-thon weekday hikes with Soaring Eagle Regional Park in Sammamish. This park offers miles of multi-use trails, and it’s perfect for me because they number all major trail intersections and have clear maps and arrows at each intersection! Even a hopeless navigator like me didn’t make any wrong turns. The Pipeline trail is the main trail that cuts diagonally through the park. It’s wide, smooth, and mostly flat and perfect for the casual walker. I took this trail most of the way before turning onto the smaller trails, and based on my experience, I think this park should be renamed “Soaring Eagle, Crawling Slug” because there were SO many slugs.
The smaller trails are still very well maintained, but there’s some minor elevation change. Walking on these trails felt more like hiking than the Pipeline. I saw some mountain bikers heading out when I started walking, and it looks like it’s a fun and popular mountain biking destination. I’m not sure if the walking experience on the narrower trails would be as pleasant on a busy biking day, but it wasn’t a problem tonight. The forest seems newer and more sparse than Bridle Trails, but you don’t end up looking into people’s backyards or hearing car noise.
I was on my way back to the entrance with sunset approaching when I heard a whoosh and saw large wings not far above my head. Looked around and saw a barred owl staring at me from a nearby tree. Pretty cool! Then I thought of the reports of barred owls clawing at ponytails in Bridle Trails awhile back and I was thankful that this guy left my head alone. I checked the internet later to see if the owl was commonly spotted at this park, and it turns out that this exact section of the park was closed 2 years ago when an aggressive barred owl was attacking people’s heads. Eek. Well, maybe he’s better behaved now. I only had the wide angle lens on my camera, so my pictures are really bad, but maybe I’ll go back and look for him sometime (with a helmet on?).
On my last leg of the trail, I stumbled upon two teenagers smoking weed. They immediately started heading out, and I followed, which freaked them out because they started walking faster and kept turning back and looking at me. But other than the teenagers at the end and the mountain bikers at the beginning, I saw no other people on the trail that evening. A nice escape into the woods!