King County expands Taylor Mountain Forest; more trails planned

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A mountain biking destination near the crossroads town of Hobart just got bigger with a property acquisition and plans to build more trails.

View of Mount Rainier from Holder Knob

View of Mount Rainier from Holder Knob

King County says it has acquired a 40-acre “inholding” at Taylor Mountain Forest, located just south of the intersection of Issaquah-Hobart Road and Route 18.

The $692,000 acquisition, located right in the middle of the forest, includes an old mill pond and a headwaters for Holder Creek. The county plans to demolish the structures on the property and build a trail to create a loop with other trails.

The county used the King County Parks Expansion Levy to fund the purchase.

The 1,900-acre Taylor Mountain Forest provides a habitat link for wildlife between Cedar River Watershed and Tiger Mountain State Forest.

A county report says the area supports black bear, cougar, black-tailed deer and elk, as well as weasels and foxes. Bird species include bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, pileated woodpecker and band-tailed pigeon.

The hilly forestland has stunning views of Mount Rainier from Holder Knob, running creeks, a secluded beaver pond, and tall stands of Douglas fir and western cedar.

Beaver pond at Taylor Mountain Forest

Beaver pond at Taylor Mountain Forest

The forest is criss-crossed by nearly 20 miles of trails, divided evenly between dirt trails and old gravel and dirt forest roads. You’ll find hikers, horsemen and mountain bikers using those trails.

I’ve been out there a few times and included the forestland in Best Bike Rides Seattle. Some mountain bikers don’t care for riding in here because of the equestrian traffic. The dirt trails can get hacked up by hooves and turn muddy in the winter and spring. Also, there’s plenty of horse manure.

The Washington Trails Association and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance have sent in volunteer work crews to improve the trails in the past.  In fact, the WTA is working on a project at the Elk Ridge Trail this winter.

The best time to visit is usually in the summer after the dirt trails dry out. There are a lot of winding trails to explore through the second and third-growth forest. The beaver pond at the north end of the forest is very peaceful, and the view of Mount Rainier is spectacular from Holder Knob.

See map at Taylor Mountain Forest.

King County acquired the private property in center of forest

King County acquired the private property in center of forest

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