The name comes from the sound that the steam whistles would make back in the logging days.
We good now?
I grew up in this area so have hiked this trail many times. It is one of my favorites because it is short, yet challenging. At only 3.8 miles round trip, it seems like it would be a beginner trail. But since you go up almost 1,800 feet in elevation in that short amount of time, it is pretty intense!
This spot is also a launch pad for paragliders. In the summer time, be careful walking through the lot to the trailhead....as the sign says, Look Up!!
Parking is tough. They have one lot that holds about 30 cars and it is almost always full on nice days by mid morning. You used to be able to park on the street, but the city put the kabosh on that one (and when you go there, you understand why...lots of cars and not a big shoulder!).
My advice....if you can, get there at sunrise and you will be able to park, use the one porta potty, and get up to the summit to watch the world wake up.
Other option for parking is to continue north on Hobart road and park at Issaquah High School. There is a trailhead there that will meet up with the main trail (it is over by the athletic fields and I am told there is a sign there now....I haven't been there in a few years).
Carpooling is recommended as well!
At the trailhead, you may find walking sticks that other hikers left. Feel free to use them if you forgot yours. In the fall, when the trail is full of leaves and wet, you may want some more stability if you forgot your sticks (like I do all the time).
Once you start the hike, you will notice the incline. No, it will not flatten out anytime soon. It does about 3/4 the way to the top. There are some benches (not very many) for breaks. But if you are 5'2" like me, the benches make you feel like you are sitting on a high chair.
You will see several "shortcuts" that are carved in the trail, try to stay on the main trail.
Your first look out is a peekaboo glimpse of Mt Rainier. Continue up the trail towards the left.
Next stop is the South Landing. This is sometimes used by paragliders, but I never see them launch from this point. A lot of hikers turn around here, thinking it is the top. I mean, the view is spectacular, but there is more to come!
You will see a sign (well, nothing is in the sign, but maybe there will be later) and a trail to the left of it and a gravel road to the right. The gravel road on the right is for service trucks and leads the the Tiger Mtn HWY 18 entrance. Don't hike on that! Take the trail on the left to get to the North Lauch point. It is only 1/4 of a mile more!
Once you get up here, watch for the paragliders. Stay behind them. Do not walk across the green lauchpad if they are getting ready to launch! Seems like common sense, but I have seen people who have no idea what is going on do that and it is dangerous.
Pack a snack and sit and enjoy the view of Squak Mountain and Issaquah right below. Further along is Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish. On a clear day, you can see some of the Seattle Skyline. Here is a pic on a foggy day....still pretty neat!