Trail Running at Little Mountain
If you’re a trail runner near Seattle, which you probably are if you’ve found yourself here, you know you don’t have to go much further than your own back yard to find a good trail. Between all the options within an hour of the the city, area runners have hundreds of miles of trails to choose from; Seattle’s own Discovery Park, The Issaquah Alps and Snoqualmie Pass to the east, or Capital Peak and Rock Candy Mountain to the south. Within an hour to the north though, dedicated volunteers have been quietly creating one of the regions best and least known trail running destinations – Little Mountain Park in Mount Vernon.
Just 5 minutes from Interstate 5, Little Mountain currently boasts nearly 10 miles of maintained trails spread out through 520 forested acres with nearly 900’ of elevation gain between it’s lowest trailhead and the summit. A variety of multi-use and hiking/running only trails snake around the mountain providing trail routes ranging from less than 100’ of elevation change per mile to up to 800’ per mile. The trail network is well designed, allowing 5-6 mile “loop” routes while providing runners with opportunities to change course every half mile, or so.
For instance, from the bottom of the main park entrance, you can take the La-Z-Boy trail. This will lead you to several other trails, like Surfer Way, which is great if you’re running (or biking). ¾ of a mile later, Surfer Way will spit you out onto the paved park road, where you can find three other trailheads; The Julieann, Bonnie & Clyde, and Ridge trails - All of which will keep you headed toward the summit. If you’re looking to test your trail running abilities, and the tread of your shoes, complete the climb via Fred’s Trail for a short, steep sprint to the top and the viewpoint lookouts.
Another route, recommended by Runfare founder Joseph Tompkins, is to start on the Huff-N-Puff trail. It’ll take you up the Northeast side of the mountain with a steady incline. Huff-N-Puff connects you up to the Service Road trail and Joseph recommends turning right which leads to the Sidewinder trail 0.2 miles ahead. Sidewinder’s switchbacks will gently take you the rest of the way up. At the top, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with view that stretches from the San Juan Islands to Mount Baker from the two lookout points. There are also great spots for picnics or take in a great view of the sunset - Not a bad place to find yourself after running up a mountain!
Once you’re done taking in the view, you can find an entirely new way to get back down. Thanks to the Mount Vernon Trail Builders, the park is constantly adding new trails, and improving old ones. In total, there’s roughly 10 miles of hiking, biking, and running trails. The new additions keep the mountain interesting.