From the Trail: Mount Rose Trail

Some images from my hike up Mt. Rose in the Olympic NF. The weather was fantastic this weekend, but this trail was brutally hard and steep – it rises 3,500 feet over 2.9 miles. It was one of the most difficult hikes I’ve done recently. The views were pleasant at the top. The summit was mostly barren because of a 2005 forest fire. If you need to get in shape for some mountaineering or uphill footraces, I recommend this hike. Otherwise, I might just do it once to say you did and then stick to hiking up Mt. Ellinor. Ellinor offers some much better views. Also, no goats (from what I saw) on Mt. Rose. Stayed tuned at the end of this week for my trail review!

Mt Rose

 

Best Hiking in Thurston County: Capitol State Forest

Douglas Scott of Thurston Talk recently posted this article on hiking in Capitol State Forest. He does a great job of summing up all that Capitol SF and the surrounding area has to offer – from Mima Falls and Capitol Peak to the McLane Creek Nature Trail and Margaret McKenny Trail.

If you think you might like to explore Capitol SF, check out some of my trail reviews of the forest:
Fall Creek to Margaret McKenny Camp by Way of Lost Valley
Little Larch Mountain

Also, if you’re interested in exploring just a little farther away from the Olympia area, I recently posted about my trip to the Lower South Fork Skokomish River Trail near Shelton.

Finally, if you like what you see here, please either follow the Pacific Northwest Pathfinders blog or sign up for email delivery of posts. Or just comment on what you like, or add your thoughts to the Community Forum page. Thank you, and don’t forget to enjoy the view!

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Lake Cushman as seen from Mt. Rose.

Review: Lower South Fork Skokomish River Trail

This marked my first visit to the South Fork Skokomish River area. I had driven by this area several times during my trips to the North Fork Skokomish River Trail (starting at Staircase Ranger Station). However, I hadn’t given it much notice. For starters, there isn’t much identification along Route 101. I think I saw one sign on 101 before reaching the turn-off to West Skokomish Valley Road, which takes you into the Olympic National Forest and to the trailhead. I had no idea you could reach the National Forest from this road, let alone access some great hiking. So research the directions and bring a map – you will need it to reach the trailhead through the maze of National Forest roads. For the most part, you will take NF Road 23.

Overall this was a great hike through a gorgeous river valley and plenty of old growth forests. Beginning at the trailhead for the Lower South Fork Skokomish River Trail – near the Brown Creak and Lebar Horse campgrounds – I hiked approximately 4.3 miles to the site of the former Camp Comfort. You can hike on this trail much farther though, all the way to the Upper South Fork Skokomish Trail and eventually into the Olympic National Park (near the Graves Creek area in the Quinault rainforest valley). But that’s quite a distance away. The half of the Lower South Fork Skokomish Trail that I hiked mostly stayed along the river and crossed over many small creeks. The warning about entering cougar country at the trailhead was a little unnerving, but for all I know these warnings exist at every trailhead on the Olympic Peninsula. If you’re looking to explore some old growth forests, though, and to hike easily through a mostly flat and beautiful river valley, I recommend this trail.

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A view of the river from a spur off the trail.

 

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Hiking the Cascades in Sky Valley, Wa.

Chris Hendrickson of The Monroe Monitor & Valley News recently posted about five hikes in Washington’s Sky Valley and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District. Sky Valley in Washington includes the South Fork Skykomish River watershed between the cities of Monroe and Skykomish. I haven’t been hiking in this area but the images in his article show a beautiful and serene wilderness area. The hikes Hendrickson writes about include Lake Serene, Barclay Lake, Deception Falls, Wallace Falls, and Heybrook Ridge.

If you like hiking to waterfalls and live in the South Puget Sound, check out this video review of Pack Forest and the Little Mashel River Falls in Eatonville, Wa.

Review: Little Mashel River Falls

When I was growing up, my family had lots of traditions involving outdoor activities. For instance, every year around Labor Day we would camp for a week at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod. I remember always having to touch the U.S. Geological Survey marker at the top of every mountain we climbed for it to officially count – at least according to my dad. Also, for as long as I can remember growing up (and even today), my dad never bought a Christmas tree. We always hiked a mile or more into the White Mountain National Forest to procure the “perfect” tree from what I think was a swamp outside of snow season. It was sort of like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – except without the station wagon. Anyways, another tradition I remember clearly was almost always taking a hike on Christmas and Easter days. On Christmas Day, we would commonly hike across the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as they are right next to my grandparent’s house. However, on Easter, we usually went hiking in New Hampshire. Last weekend on Easter, I continued that tradition with my son and wife. We visited Little Mashel River Falls at the Charles Lathrop Pack Forest in Eatonville, Wa. It was a nice family hike (albeit muddy) and a tradition I hope to keep. Check out my review below and see the short video I put together.

Lower Falls

Lower Falls

Middle Falls (Bridal Veil)

Middle Falls (Bridal Veil)

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From the Trail: Ozette Triangle, Cape Alava

This weekend I hiked the Ozette Triangle (aka Ozette Loop) at Olympic National Park. The weather wasn’t really participatory. My family and I camped at the National Park’s campground on Lake Ozette. It was raining when we arrived and partially raining while we broke camp the next morning. Then it continued raining as we hiked the 3-mile Cape Alava Trail to the coast. Once at the coast though, the sun came out and the clouds disappeared for a few hours as we hiked south along the coast to the Sand Point Trail. There, we were hit with rain, and some hail, as we headed inland towards the ranger station at Lake Ozette. The hike was beautiful though. The approx. 9-mile hike traverses lots of boardwalks in the woods and follows beautiful ocean coastline (and the Pacific Northwest Trail) for about 3 miles. I can not wait to return later this year to this spectacular hiking area. All-in-all an excellent trip. Stayed tuned for my review later in the week.

Ozette Triangle

From the Trail: Lower South Fork Skokomish River Trail

Today I hiked part of the trail along the Lower South Fork Skokomish River in Olympic National Forest. Starting at the trailhead near Le Bar Creek Horse Camp, I hiked in to the former site of Camp Comfort (about 4.5 miles one way) alongside the river. The first section was a difficult uphill then downhill climb, but the rest of the hike was amazing as the trail passed through old-growth forest almost the entire way. A beautiful area tucked away in the South Fork Skokomish River watershed. Stayed next week for my review.

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