Dog's Day in Issaquah

Located just 16 miles east of Seattle, Issaquah is a city dog’s gateway to the great outdoors.
Written by Brandie Ahlgren | Photography by Julie Clegg
In winter, when the sun is shining bright, Seattleites know to take advantage of this rare occasion by hitting the great outdoors with their dogs. On just such a day, we head east on I-90 to explore nearby Issaquah with two, very excited dogs in tow.

The hills are alive.
Issaquah is surrounded on three sides by the “Issaquah Alps,” with Cougar Mountain on the west, Squak Mountain to the south, and Tiger Mountain to the east, forming a natural wonder at the base of the Cascades for boundless opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities with your four-legged friend. Located just 16 miles east of Seattle, it’s an easy escape from city life—our ultimate destination, Squak Mountain!

Frogs and dogs…and beer.
With the Squak Mountain trailhead conveniently located near downtown Issaquah, we first make a pit stop at Issaquah Brewery, where they just happen to be hosting their annual Frogs & Dogs festival—a dog-friendly tasting event and fundraiser. Okay, we knew about Frogs & Dogs ahead of time…and no, there aren’t any frogs in attendance. Just dogs…and beer. “Frogs” refers to the brewery’s family of Frog beers: Menage-a-Frog, Bullfrog Ale, Hippie Frog Chamomile Ale, Grapefruit Frog, Kilted Frog and Wicked Frog to name a few.

Acquired by Rogue Ales in 2000, Issaquah Brewery carries Rogue’s dog-friendly tradition with annual tasting events such as Frogs & Dogs, and even a menu just for dogs. Items include a Pulled Pork Slider ($2.95) and a classic Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich ($3.95). This year's Frog's & Dogs is July 6 & 7, 2013. For more information about the event, click here.

The fish are a jumpin’.
While at the brewery, it’s worth a side trip over to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, located right next door. Built in 1936, the hatchery annually raises about four million Chinook (King) and Coho (Silver) salmon, which migrate from the Issaquah Creek to Puget Sound, then on to the North Pacific.

Shopping, eating and more shopping.
Next, we venture over to Earth Pet to pick up some treats before we hit the trails. Located along Issaquah’s main drag at 660 Front Street, Earth Pet is packed with only the highest quality food and treats. While we peruse the aisles, we hear the shop is celebrating its ninth anniversary after overcoming some serious odds. In 2003, a fire destroyed the building and not only did Earth Pet suffer the devastating loss of the store, but also their beloved cat Cindi. One year later, with help from community support, the store reopened and today it is home to shop cats Banyan and Lilly. Purr…we love a happy ending.

Stocked with treats for our trail hounds, we decide to grab a bite at Billy Bob’s Burgers & BBQ. We indulge on tasty barbecued ribs, corn bread and coleslaw at one of the picnic tables situated in the outside seating area. We are told that dogs are okay “as long as it’s not too crowded.” We happen to be the only ones there, so we assume it’s okay.

Billy Bob’s happens to be located at Gilman Village, which includes an additional 40-plus shops and restaurants. Gilman Village was created in 1972, when Marvin and Ruth Mohl started saving old, unwanted farming and mining buildings, as well as pioneer homes, from around Issaquah, moving and renovating them to create this retail area. If you need a pick-me-up before pounding the trails, swing by Issaquah Coffee Company for gluten-free pastries and delicious brew.

Trails, here we come!
With bellies full, it’s time to work it off with our much-anticipated hike (much-anticipated by the dogs, that is). Combined, Tiger, Cougar and Squak Mountains feature 150 miles of hiking and biking trails, through mostly wooded terrain—we decide on Squak. Described as “urban wilderness,” the Squak Mountain Access Trail originates at the Issaquah Trail Center parking area (110 SE Bush Street), located near downtown, and follows Issaquah Creek, winding through the foothill neighborhoods until it reaches Sunrise Place, where it enters into more wooded areas and access to Squak Mountain State Park.

If you decide on Cougar or Tiger for your mountain sojourn, Cougar features almost 50 miles of winding trails, and Tiger (the largest of the three with 13,000 acres of wilderness) features 80 miles of trails. Considered the crown jewel of the Issaquah Alps, Tiger features three peaks, East, West and South. West is considered a favorite among hikers, and can be quite busy with foot and paw traffic on weekends. However, if you are so inclined, take the High Point Way trailhead and follow it to Poo Poo Point (as a dog lover, you have to love the name), one of the country’s top hang gliding and paragliding points. Actually, the point got its name from logging signals using a whistle that made a “poo poo” sound. The trail climbs steeply and steadily all the way to the top, but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Squak Mountain, Lake Samammish and Issaquah. There is also a clearing on the backside of the point with an amazing view of Mount Rainier on a clear day.

If hiking isn’t your thing, but your hound is in need of some off-leash fun, then Issaquah Highlands Bark Park is the spot for Spot. This two-acre dog park is part of the Issaquah Highlands community, which includes over 1,500 acres of parks and open space, a trail that connects directly to the Tiger Mountain complex plus shopping, restaurants and more. Bark Park is located adjacent to Kirk Park on NE Natalie Way and also features a small dog area called Mini-Mutt Meadows. We reserve our opinion, but must note that pit bulls are not allowed in the Issaquah Highlands.

After a romp through the park, some muddy paws might be in much need of a rinse. If so, try the self-service dog washrooms at Le Chic Pet Boutique and Spa, located in the Issaquah Highlands at 2525-B NE Park Drive. Le Chic has everything you need in a dog wash: waterproof aprons, shampoo, conditioner, brushes, nail trimmers and a professional blow dryer—you just bring the dog. Le Chic also features healthy food and treats plus toys and high-quality accessories.

For full-service grooming, Riverdog, located at 1400 19th Avenue NW, features a professional bathing station, walk-in shower for large and limited-mobility dogs, and organic shampoos and conditioners. Riverdog is also a doggie day camp, with over 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space specifically engineered for dogs at play, including an entire wing devoted twice weekly to puppies. But, Riverdog’s true specialty is training. Pack leader, aka Riverdog’s principal owner Denise Stringfellow, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, and John Rogerson Associate. We had to look that last one up and apparently John Rogerson is a world renowned dog trainer and behaviorist—essentially, top dog among dog training circles. At Riverdog, your dog can participate in all-day, on-site training as part of doggie day camp, or private, at-home instruction, depending on your dog’s needs.

For small dogs only, Blue Dog, located in the heart of Issaquah at 640 NW Locust Street, offers daycare. They also provide in-home pet sitting services—whether it’s in your home or one of theirs—plus training, dog walking and grooming. Weather permitting, they also offer monthly Yappy Hours for some social time for you and your party hound. Check their website at for upcoming events.

Winter wonderland.
This year, the weather gurus have predicted snow and lots of it! From the Issaquah Highlands, head east and in just 30 minutes you’ll find yourself at The Summit at Snoqualmie. While dogs are not allowed on the trail system or in the area around the lodge, if you want to cross country ski or snowshoe with your dog there is the nearby Gold Creek SnoPark (from I-90, take Exit 54 to Frontage Road). Dogs on SnoPark trails must be on leash and some areas are shared use, so you may encounter a snowmobile or two.

With its close proximity to Seattle, Issaquah serves as the perfect gateway for you and your four-legged friend to escape the hustle and bustle of city life to explore the great outdoors. With thousands of acres of wilderness and hundreds of miles of trails waiting to be explored, it also doesn’t hurt that Issaquah is home to a dog-friendly brewery, delicious barbecue, loads of dog shops and services, plus a plethora of parks—woofs and wags to Issaquah, indeed!

More Information

Earth Pet
660 Front Street, Issaquah

Le Chic Pet Boutique & Spa
2525-B NE Park Drive, Issaquah

Gilman Village
317 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah

Billy Bob’s Burgers & BBQ
317 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah

Issaquah Coffee Company
317 NW Gilman Blvd, Ste 47, Issaquah

Issaquah Brewery
35 W Sunset Way, Issaquah

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
125 W Sunset Way, Issaquah

Issaquah Highlands Bark Park
Located on NE Natalie Way

Squak Mountain Access Trail
110 SE Bush Street;

Gold Creek SnoPark
I-90 to Exit 54 to Frontage Road

1400 19th Avenue NW, Issaquah

Blue Dog
640 NW Locust Street, Issaquah
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