Swamp Trail at Tiger Mountain State Forest
Hike description: Truth or dare?
This is how the tale of “Zoe and the Swamp Monster” begins.
The story about Zoe the raccoon confronting rumors of an evil swamp monster is the highlight of this short hike on the north side of Tiger Mountain State Forest.
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The wide trail is an ideal hike for kids. A round trip on the sometimes flat, sometimes gently sloping trail covers only 1.2 miles as it wanders past wetland and a variety of trees north of Tradition Lake.
Don’t be fooled by the sign that reads 0.3 miles. This seems to be referring only to the distance one-way to the start of Zoe’s story.
The farther you hike, the more of the story you experience.
Story boards are placed along the trail. Each has a portion of the story and an illustration.
The moss-covered trees add an element of mystery to the adventure. You might see wildlife (birds and squirrels most likely) on this short walk, but don’t expect to see an actual swamp creature.
While the Swamp Trail is perfect for a child’s first hiking experience, it is also loaded with options for extending your trip.
Zoe’s story is over by the time you reach the first section of power lines, but the trail is not. You can turn back or continue on linking trails for a big loop back to the parking lot. There are many options here, so make sure you have a map.
Or you can simply turn back the way you came and tack on another popular day hike such as the 1.4-mile Around the Lake Trail or the more challenging climb to the top of West Tiger 3. The nearly 14,000-acre state forest is packed with trails, most of which can be accessed from this trailhead if you don’t mind a long walk.
Directions: From Interstate 90 take Exit 20 and turn south on 270th Street. Turn right on 79th Street and follow the road parallel to I-90 to the parking lot at the end of the section of rough dirt road. If you don’t have a pass, you can park along the road before entering the state forest.
Difficulty rating: 1 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: 1.2.
Elevation gain: Less than 100 feet
Best time of the year: Year-round.
Map: Green Trails 204S: Tiger Mountain
Pass: Discover Pass to use the designated parking lot.
Also: It is best to arrive early. Many popular Tiger Mountain trails start from this area, so parking is at a premium. Dogs are permitted if they are on a leash and cleaned up after. There are several geocaches hidden in the area, according to geocaching.com