Limber up with this close-in hike near North Bend.
Hike of the Month
Little Si and Boulder Garden Loop
Summer months are upon us. This gentle hike (about 5 miles round trip) is a good trail to ease into shape if you’ve been hibernating. Sure, experienced hikers will scoff that there are hikes with better views. But this remains one of the most popular because of its proximity to Seattle (about a 30-minute drive in light traffic) and it’s an easy-to-moderate hike.
The hike: The state Department of Natural Resources estimates Little Si gets more than 100,000 hikers annually, even more than on Mount Si. But you can avoid the crowd, at least part of the way, by hiking the loop.
Near the trailhead is the steepest climb with a couple of switchbacks but it quickly levels off. You might get a glimpse of Rattlesnake Mountain on a clear day. Shortly, the dirt path will split to Little Si Trail on your left and the Boulder Garden Loop on your right.
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If you see many hikers, take the Boulder Garden Loop, which rarely gets much foot traffic, and afterward continue onto the main Little Si Trail.
The loop runs under a lush canopy of conifers, and the path rims 30-foot boulders covered in moss. Note: Because relatively fewer hikers take the Loop, some dog walkers let their dogs loose along this otherwise tranquil hike. It’s a stroll until you get a mile up and then the trail gets narrow and rocky (and slippery on a rainy day). After another half-mile, you are back on the Little Si trail.
While the main trail is less than 2 miles each way, perhaps leading you to expect a fairly quick up-and-back, expect slow going on busiest days when narrow spots create bottlenecks in foot traffic. Not ideal for trail running.
You get views of the north face of Little Si, where you’ll likely see climbers. The hike zigzags to the west side of the mountain over a fir-needle floor. From the top of Little Si, at 1,576 feet, you get views of North Bend and Mount Si.
Taking the “Old Little Si” trail, replaced in 2009, is not advised unless you have a map or go with an experienced hiker since that old trail is now unmarked.
Facilities: Two parking lots and additional parking along the roadside. Restrooms and kiosks near the Little Si Trailhead. Near the summit is the Doug Hansen Memorial bench. The main Little Si Trail is 1.7 miles, while just off to its right is the Boulder Garden Loop (1.5 miles).
Restrictions: No bikes allowed. Not wheelchair accessible. Dogs must be on leash. Open dawn to dusk. Discover Pass required to park.
Direction: Take Interstate 90 to Exit 32 and go north on 436th Avenue Southeast. Turn left on North Bend Way, then right on Southeast Mount Si Road. After you cross the bridge over the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, look for trailhead parking lots on your left.
More info: Washington Trails Association has more info on both the Little Si trail and the Loop trail at wta.org. Also check with Washington State Department of Natural Resources; search under “Recreation” at dnr.wa.gov