Seattle and the Puget Sound is known for its world class mountaineers. Though they've scaled many an international peak, many of them practiced their chops on this fairly diminutive, but close-to-town leg-burner. There are many trails which start or finish around I-90’s “High Point Way” exit 20, but Tiger 3 is one of the best trainers in the area. It isn’t particularly hard but it isn’t easy either as it winds steadily uphill on old logging roads through a rejuvenating forest.
Don't expect solitude here; this is perhaps the most heavily used trail on Tiger Mountain, and for good reason. Fortunately, there is plenty of room to share. West Tiger, one of the sprawling mountain's four primary peaks (West, Middle, South and East), is itself a tri-crowned peak. Numbered 1 through 3, the third of the West Tiger peaks offers the best views, despite being the lowest of the triplets.
When starting this hike from either the road or from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) parking lot one should be careful, as there are several trails heading off in different directions. However, Tiger-3 is well signed as it heads initially west and then quickly south from the southwest end of the parking lot. Over the course of the trail there are at least six spur trails, many of them signed, taking off in every direction, offering the chance to extend your hike in a myriad of ways.
The old logging road bed, which accounts for most of T-3, climbs at a steady grade for three miles, gaining roughly 2000 feet in the progress. Being an old road, the way is wide, and so many users enjoy this trail. Winter can be an extra special time for families with it’s close proximity to the city.
The last half-mile mile flattens out just slightly as it crosses and recrosses the Cable Trail which ascends relentlessly and unceremoniously from I-90 along the hill’s steepest grade. The summit of Tiger-3 isn’t fancy, but it provides enough space to have a meal or catch your breath.
For those who are interested and have a good map there are numerous alternative trails that return to I-90 and exit 20. For the patient and observant, there is the opportunity to view wildlife along these routes. This author has personally seen owls, deer, and a bear.