Reaching 1,614 feet, Cougar Mountain is the smallest of the Issaquah Alps (Tiger Mountain, Squawk Mountain, etc.), but that doesn’t mean it lacks wonderful vistas. One of the best spots on the mountain is known as the ‘Million Dollar View.’
The ‘Million Dollar View’ is located about 30 minutes outside of Seattle at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. You can drive to the viewpoint or you can hike there:
If you’re driving, head east on I-90 to Lakemont Blvd. SE (exit 13). Turn right onto Lakemont Blvd. SE and follow that for 2.3 miles until you reach SE Cougar Mountain Way. Take a left and follow SE Cougar Mountain Way (turns into 168th Pl. SE, then 60th St., and then Cougar Mountain Dr.) all the way up to the Anti-Aircraft Peak Trailhead. You should see a sign pointing you to the ‘Million Dollar View’ from the parking lot.
My dad and I opted to hike to the ‘Million Dollar View’ when we visited recently. If you choose to go for a hike, here’s how we did it:
First you have to drive there. Follow the same directions as above, but instead of continuing all the way to the Anti-Aircraft Trailhead on SE Cougar Mountain Way, turn right onto 166th Way. Follow 166th Way to the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park parking lot. I suggest grabbing a trail map, because there are trails zigzagging all over Cougar Mountain.
The hike to the ‘Million Dollar View’ is an easy (625-foot elevation gain), 6-mile loop. Start your adventure by following the gravel road (Clay Pit Road) that goes beyond the gate on the northeast side of the parking lot (you’ll see the gate when you drive in). In about .75 miles turn left onto Klondike Swamp Trail. After about another mile, turn left onto Lost Beagle Trail. The hike then takes you to Anti-Aircraft Peak (believe it or not, the military once had a missile launch site here). Once you reach Radar Park, walk past the maintenance shed/office, through the parking lot, to the ‘Million Dollar View’ (again, you should see a sign in the parking lot).
Once you reach the ‘Million Dollar View,’ you’ll have a nice glimpse at Lake Sammamish and Mount Baker. The view honestly didn’t provide the “panoramic splendor” we were told it was going to, though. There are a lot of overgrown trees in the way, so it’s a fairly obstructed spot. Don’t get me wrong — it’s still a nice view. And to be fair, we were there on a cloudy day. Maybe when the sun comes out, the ‘Million Dollar View’ really lives up to its name.
After soaking in the ‘Million Dollar View,’ you can turn around and go back the way you came, or continue on along the Anti-Aircraft Peak Trail. You come to a crossroads about 1.25 miles later at Cougar Pass. Turn right to head back toward Klondike Swamp Trail, or go left toward Tibbets Marsh Trail and the clay pit. Once we reached the clay pit, my dad and I continued down Clay Pit Road back to the parking lot.
NOTE: There’s a short detour (.1 mile) off Clay Pit Road called Mine Shaft Trail. As the name suggests, the trail leads to an old, grate-covered mine shaft. As you’ll read on the informational signs there, Cougar Mountain and the surrounding areas were once used for coal mining (peaking during World War I). My dad and I really enjoyed seeing the mine shaft and reading about its history.
From my experience, you have to head to the “real” mountains to capture really stunning natural views of the area (alpine lakes, waterfalls, stunning viewpoints, etc.), but those adventures aren’t always close or easy on the body. If you’re looking for a nice view that’s nearby, a hike that’s not very grueling, and a glimpse at some of our area’s history, Cougar Mountain and the ‘Million Dollar View’ are the place for you!
Have you ever checked out the ‘Million Dollar View’? How was your experience? We’d love to hear all about it! Please leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more great places to visit around the Emerald City!