Our friend Cindy and her 4 dogs joined us on Friday for a great hike up Little Si. This knob sits on the side of Mt. Si, and provides a great workout for little legs without the steep slog up the larger peak. You’ll still get wide views and a wild feel, even though you’re just on the edge of town.
We were surprised that we got some of the last spots in the parking lot when we arrived at around 10:30 on Friday morning. But then we remembered it’s Spring Break for some schools, so it made sense there were lots of folks out on a weekday. There is an overflow lot before you get to the main lot, but these parking areas fill up early on weekends and holidays. Because it was Spring Break, Gabe’s friend D was able to come along, as well.
We had left the sunshine behind in Seattle and driven into the gloom of foothill clouds. It was cool, and we were prepared for rain but hoped for sunshine. This trail climbs immediately out of the parking lot.
You’ll get your blood pumping early. Soon you’re up above the road noise and moving into the forest. There is a small viewpoint partway up this section.
Eventually the grade eases as the trail traverses the shelf in between Mt. Si and Little Si. We thought this area was particularly pretty, with green moss glowing madly, salmonberry and other deciduous shrubs leafing out, and a small stream that crosses the trail.
We saw a few trilliums, shy on the forest floor, and I saw the first yellow violets of the season. Magenta salmonberry blossoms brought a pop of color to the otherwise quiet landscape. We traipsed through a lot of mud on this trail (this seems to be a theme this spring!) and were happy for gaiters and poles and waterproof boots.
We stopped a little over a mile in to have a snack and rest our feet, then continued on to where the trails starts climbing again. As it ascends the back side of Little Si, the path gets steeper and more rocky and rooted.
Cindy had quite a time keeping the dogs from pulling too fast or getting stuck on tree roots or wound around trees. Little children will need lots of help and hand holding on this last section. Soon we had made it to the top, where we got some great views of the fresh snow on Mt. Si and the valley and peaks to the south.
We ate our lunch up on top, dodging rain drops, and trying not to get chilled. Keep a close eye on children and teens here, as there are some steep dropoffs at the top.
I really felt my body temperature dropping after about a half an hour. I’m not happy with the breathability of my rain coat, as it had left my base layer damp with sweat. I layered up a bit and we put our lunches away and headed back down to the cars. I was glad to have had my thin gloves and hat along, as well as an extra wool sweater.
It makes such a difference having friends and dogs along on our hikes. There was no complaining and no bickering. We made it down in one pitch with no stopping. We were happy to make it back to the car. I wished I had brought extra clothes for Annika and clean shoes for all of us. My kids were also craving salty snacks, which I hadn’t packed either. But we didn’t use the extra water I had carried the whole way up and down.
This is a neat hike for when you don’t feel like heading too far up into the mountains, or for when there is still snow up high. Expect crowds and a good workout.
If You Go: Little Si is 4.7 miles RT and 1300 feet elevation gain. You’ll need your Discover Pass to park at this park (I didn’t notice a place to buy one at the parking lot.) If you go on a weekend, just be aware that the parking may be full and there is no street parking allowed around there. Have an alternate hike in mind in case there is no parking. Also, there is a shuttle system in the summer from North Bend that has run on weekends; I couldn’t find info for this year to link here, so if you’re reading this in the summer, take a minute and research yourself if you think this is an option for you. There is an outhouse at the parking area, but no water or other amenities.
Driving Directions: Drive I-90 east from Seattle and take the exit for 436th Ave SE in North Bend. Turn left at the exit. Turn left on SE North Bend Way. After about 0.3 miles, turn right onto SE Mt. Si Road. You’ll cross a big red bridge over a river. Look for the parking lot on the left of the road. (You’ll pass the overflow lot first; the main lot is about 1/4 mile past this.)