Talus Rocks. Credit: Tiffany Doerr Guerzon
Talus Rocks at Tiger Mountain
Find it: Begin this hike at Tiger Mountain's High Point Way trailhead; reach it by taking exit 20 off I-90, turn south onto 270th Ave. S.E., then turn right onto S.E. 79th St. A Discover Pass is required to park in the lot (see parking notes below).
The Talus Rocks hike is a bit harder because of the elevation gain, but seeing the huge rocks at the top is totally worth it. The Talus rocks are a collection of boulders — called glacial erratics — that drifted to Tiger Mountain during previous ice ages. Now these giants are home to lots of plant life and there are even small cave-like gaps that are formed where the rocks are close together.
Near the parking lot at the trailhead, there is a detailed map at a kiosk. It’s not a bad idea to take a picture of the map with your phone if you don’t have a paper map with you. From there, take the trail straight ahead to a clearing that has a restroom and several trail signs.
Begin this hike on the trail called West Tiger 3. It starts out easy on a wide, gravel path, but then starts going up, up, up. You will gain almost 600 feet over the first mile — it’s a leg burner! Keep going until you see the Talus Rock trail sign on your right. The sign is just a few feet in. The Talus Rock trail is much narrower and is dirt instead of gravel. We crossed a couple of wet areas in which there were logs to walk on and a wood bridge in one spot. There is a pretty place where the water cascades over a rock fall forming a little waterfall. When you see the waterfall, you are almost there!
Once you reach the rocks, prepare to be amazed. They are huge! (The picture with my nearly 5-foot-tall son standing in front of one gives you an idea.) There is a series of steps on the right which leads to a semi-flat area that's good for taking a break or taking in the view. On the left, a trail goes up and around to the top level of the rocks. There are wood barriers in a few spots (one was broken) so be careful in that area.
This is really fun to explore but use caution as there are multiple steep drop-offs, especially on the top level. There are also caves in between where the rocks meet. I read that there have been bat colonies observed in the caves in the past. I wouldn’t recommend going inside the caves or going past any of the wood barriers, for safety’s sake.
Once you’ve had enough of the big rocks, simply turn around and go back the way you came for a 3.5 mile round-trip hike.
Parking notes: The road to the trailhead ends at a gate. This gate is closed at dusk, so if you plan on being out past that time, be sure to park outside of the gate. There is a small roadside lot and street parking which can be used if you don’t have a Discover Pass (or if the main lot is full). If you park there, take the small trail starting at the roadside parking up the hill for a half-mile to the trailhead. But if you have a Discover Pass and don't plan to stay past dusk, drive through the gate and uphill to the bigger lot.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2018 and updated for 2019.