Capturing Nature’s Magic: One Local Resident’s Trail Cam Journey in the Snoqualmie Valley

-Guest post by Susan Burk

I grew up in a small town with many wooded areas nearby, and seeing wildlife was common. I always loved it, but it wasn’t until after I’d lived in Snoqualmie that I started getting trail cams to see what the wildlife around us was doing.

I’ve lived in Snoqualmie for 13 years now. When buying, we were thrilled to find a house that backed up to a forested area. I love sitting on our back deck looking out into the woods, watching squirrels, chipmunks and birds.

 It wasn’t long before I realized we had other visitors. Bears. After getting a wildlife-resistant garbage can and taking down our bird feeders, we weren’t being visited, but bears were still coming through our neighborhood regularly. 

In 2015 my curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to try putting up a trail cam. I knew bears come through our area, so I set the camera up out front. When I woke up, I couldn’t wait to see if I’d gotten a picture of the bear. There was a video of an animal, but it wasn’t what I expected. My wife knew I was excited to catch some animals on my new camera, and she didn’t want me to be disappointed, so she put on a horse head mask and walked by the camera. It was a hilarious joke, but I was disappointed not to get a bear.

Behind our house is a steep hill that leads to a deep ravine. Where our property line ends on the steep hill is a chain-link fence, and behind it is a retaining wall for the ravine. I had no idea at the time, but the top of the retaining wall is a very active wildlife trail. I started getting videos of bears, bobcats, coyotes, deer, raccoons, and more.

Eventually, I ended up installing a multi-camera security system so I could keep an eye on the activity around our house, as well as on the retaining wall and lower fence. There were many videos of animals walking by, but I got some great content over time. A coyote chasing some crows, a bobcat successfully hunting, flickers doing a mating dance and a deer with different-looking antlers.

I eventually created a Facebook group for friends and family and named it Snoqualmie Ridge Wildlife. I then shared a few videos on a local Facebook group. People enjoyed the videos, and I loved sharing them, so I opened my private group to locals wanting to join. Soon I had a lot of people, not just from Snoqualmie Ridge but from surrounding communities as well.

Since making my group public, now called Snoqualmie Ridge/Valley Wildlife, it’s grown to over 1400 members. I invite others to share their photos and videos of local wildlife and related content. I’ve had photo contests and even some giveaways.

When I knew how active the area right around my home was, I wanted to put more cameras out. And I wanted to get a video of a cougar. I met Michelle Jones through a mutual friend and found that we both shared an interest in wildlife. She also had some cameras on her property and wanted to find cougars, so our partnership started from there.

Michelle put in a lot of work. She studied animal tracking, started hiking the woods nearby and connected with locals who had cougars in their area. I kept buying cameras, and she’d find places to put them. Some would get nothing, but soon we had our first cougar.

Like our home cameras, many videos were just animals walking by. While it’s exciting to see them, you always hope for more. I now have videos of young bears wrestling and fawns doing zoomies while their mom nibbles on some grass. Seeing them in their natural environment, relaxed and enjoying life, is incredible. 

If I’ve had a stressful week, one of the best things I can do is hop in the car and head out to the woods with Michelle and the newest addition to the Trail Cam crew, Christa Kirby. Christa dived into the hobby, and after asking many questions about equipment, locations and animal behavior, Michelle and I felt we could safely share our favorite locations with her. Last weekend she and I went out to check cameras, and she finally got a cougar. She has excellent ideas for new sites to place cameras that will pay off.

Do you want to buy a trail cam and see what the wildlife in your area is up to? Here are my tips.


I’m a bargain shopper and usually try to find the best deal I can on things, but I purchase from Trail Cam Pros when it comes to trail cams. Their customer service is outstanding. They have a 90-day return policy and a 2-year warranty that they manage in-house, even though most manufacturers only offer one year, and they test all the cameras they sell and give honest feedback on them. 

If you decide to purchase from TCP, you can get $10 off your first purchase using my link here. I will also get some points that can be used on a future purchase. 

I’m a fan of Browning cameras. They have good battery life and trigger quickly. I like to shoot in video mode and prefer models that shoot 60 frames per second. Models that shoot 30fps still produce great quality videos, but at 60fps, I can pull an individual frame from a video, and it’s a nice clear photo.

Unless you need pictures or videos right away, I don’t recommend using a cellular camera. They require more batteries and burn through them more quickly.


If you place your camera somewhere off your property or in an area with bears, you’ll want to add a metal lockbox and secure it with a cable lock.

Memory Cards

I use 64 GB and 128 GB memory cards. Some older cameras can only use cards up to 32 GB, so you should always check to see if your camera has limitations. I suggest using a name-brand card because cameras are often left out for long periods, and it’s disappointing that your camera didn’t record anything because you went with a cheap card.


Batteries are one of the more expensive, ongoing costs. Alkaline batteries don’t last very long and don’t handle extreme temperatures well. Lithium batteries work best. Costco has the best deal on them when they are in stock, but I haven’t seen them in stock for quite a while now.

Susan’s wildlife journey, evolving from curiosity to a thriving community, offers us all a fresh perspective on our local environment. The adventure with trail cams underscores the magic of wildlife right here in the Snoqualmie Valley, enhancing our co-existence and reminding us that nature’s wonders are just a doorstep away.

If you like to see more of Susan’s videos, you can join her Facebook page here or subscribe to her YouTube channel

Comments are closed.

Living Snoqualmie