Sunday, August 05, 2007

Rock Mountain (via Snowy Creek)

Quick facts
Driving distance from Seattle: 2.5 hours
Hiking distance (both ways): 9 miles (14.5 km)
Elevation gain: 3400 ft (1000 m)
Green Trails Map: 145
Driving map: try this google map
Permits:There are still signs saying that NW Forest passes are required but neither the trail nor the trail head (nor the signs) seem to be maintained so maybe the signs are just left over from the olden days.
Resources: 100 Hikes in Washington's Glacier Peak Region: The North Cascades by Spring and Manning (I really like the table they have at the front of the book listing the basic stats of each of the hikes)

This is beautiful hike leading to great views. The first 2 miles are pretty flat and go through an old growth forest. Eventually one reaches a wide flat meadow. The trail may get hard to find there -- it continues again on the left edge of the meadow and goes back among the trees. Right after leaving the meadow, the trails becomes steep in earnest. Eventually one leaves the trees and continues in the open until a pass, right below Rock Mountain. From there it is just a short hike along the ridge to the peak, where the foundations of an old lookout are still visible. All the major peaks are visible from Rock Mountain in good weather.

View from the top of Rock Mountain

Some parts of the trail along the first 2 miles were really badly overgrown. It made us wander a little if we were on the right track.

We did this hike in early August. When we started, it was warm and still with sporadic cumuli offering a little bit of shade. The downside of it being still was that we were bothered by swarms of black flies and some mosquitoes, which kept conspiring to deprive us of a proper lunch break. Even at the top there was no breeze to speak of so the flying menace kept following us. On our way back, we got caught in a light rain -- the cloud looked like it would pass quickly. Instead, the light rain turned into heavy rain, which turned into thunder storm. Some 10 minutes before we reached the car it started hailing!

Driving Directions:
From Seattle, drive on Rt.2 4 miles past Stevens Pass. Turn left onto Smith Brook Road (forest road 6700). After 5 miles on road 6700, get onto road number 6705 (the junction will be at a switch back so you will actually end up driging straight). From there, it is 3.6 miles to the trail head. The signs along the entire road are extremely faint and almost impossible to read -- use your odometer!


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