I woke up just before the sun on the first weekend in October and raced it east to the misty, mountainous town of North Bend, Washington for an early hike with my lifelong friend, and this blog’s editor, Natalie Benson. We chose to do the Little Si trail because we only had a couple of hours, and thought that no other local view would pay off better.
We met at Huxdotter Coffee, loaded up our fluffy canine companions, and drove to the trail as we squealed in excitement about our adventurous reunion.
As some refer to it as the little sister of Mount Si, Little Si is a 4 mile round-trip trail that features a small peak revealing remarkable views of a deep valley and the side of Mount Si herself.
Hitting the trail, I felt my heart rate pick up right away. The first half-hour or so is the most challenging part of the hike, climbing about 1,200 feet in total. The trail rewards you as you go though, offering the first viewpoint only 10 minutes into the hike that overlooks the south side of the mountain and the city of North Bend. The trail is a mix of rocky, step-like terrain, but is well maintained the entire way up.
The backdrop of the hike is a lush forest covered in a micro-universe of a variety of species from mushrooms to insects, that gets more jaw-dropping as the elevation rises. We were greeted by a hummingbird and a woodpecker on the way up and took a moment to admire and verbally complement each one.
“Good morning Handsome! How’s it going Lovely?”
As we moved upward, the rocky terrain morphed into more of a dirt path surrounded by vegetation that made it feel like we were in the James Cameron film, Avatar. In the middle of the hike as you start to enter these open areas, you might see a string of rainbow prayer flags on your right-hand side, inviting you to hike a little further. As you continue, to your left, you will see Yosemite-like rock faces covered in different climbing vegetation. The boulders stand so high, you have to lift your chin to try and find the sky.
There are a few split off‘s and switchbacks throughout the hike, but with good signage making it easy for any beginning hiker. I appreciated how in several areas, there were parallel split-offs on the trail, so that if you came upon other hikers you didn’t need to wait on the side each time for them to pass.
We did see several other hikers on this trip, each greeted with a nod of the head and friendly hello, maybe a butt-sniff as well for those with dogs. This hike is dog-friendly, and it was really great to see happy paws on the trail.
As we reached the top, there were times when we had to climb across slate slabs that were laid upon each other across the trail, but it didn’t make it hard to find where the trail was. As you summit near the top, it is impossible not to gawk at the view. You will see the southern side of Mount Si, covered in thousands of trees. When I first saw it, I tried to take a random guess at how many trees I could see with my eyes in that spot and honestly couldn’t come up with a number. As Mount Si hits the base of the earth, it is continually blanketed by a never-ending forest that climbs up the northern side of Little Si, where you stand to look over it all. The cliff here is very steep and sticks out quite a bit from the rest of the mountain. Please take caution and make sure that your dogs are on a leash and in your field of vision. You can continue up the trail for a few minutes, staying to your left to see an even more panoramic view of the north-western side of the valley.
We watched fog sift in and out different hills and valleys throughout the canyon, as the sun beat down on our faces for about 10 minutes, then right as we were leaving, watched it take over the entire viewpoint within seconds.
Tip- if you reach the top and can’t see anything because the valley is covered in fog, hang out for a minute and test your patience. It might just flow out as easily as it swept into the trees right before us.
The hike down carried out heart rate down with it, and only took us about a half-hour- we felt refreshed the entire way, as we let gravity do the work. We took this time to talk about relationships, God, what makes a good friend, and how to be a good partner.
When we reached the trailhead, we noticed a full parking lot. If you are going to do this hike on the weekend, I recommend hitting the trail before 8 o’clock in the morning.
By this point, we were ravenous for lunch and a good beer. We drove back to Huxdotter Coffee and sat outside, enjoying a nice pint of Dru Bru’s Octoberfest, letting the foam spill off the top of our glasses as we celebrated doing what we love most.
As we enjoyed our beer and the brief sunshine, we simultaneously reflected on our time and thought that this trail is a perfect one-stop shop for anybody who wants a rewarding view at the end. It gives a little bit of everything- safety, wildlife, and incredible viewpoints right off the freeway between our homes.
Doing Little Si inspired me to also take on her big sister, so stay tuned on the details of my Mount Si experience.