Siouxon Peak Loop

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bobcat
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Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by bobcat » October 8th, 2014, 6:23 pm

This is a pleasant loop which adds expansive views and some interesting old growth to the waterfalls, pristine pools, and lush creekside forest of the extremely popular Siouxon Creek hike.

I was surprised to be the first car at the trailhead even though I wasn’t especially early: of course, it was spilling over by the time I got back from the hike. I descended into the verdant forest and eerie old growth snags from the 100-year burn. Water in the Siouxon and all its attendant creeks is as low as I’ve ever seen it and, obviously, the waterfalls were not thundering, merely splashing rather feebly. On the way, I paid my respects to Horseshoe Creek Falls and Siouxon Falls. After an hour or so, I reached the “closed” footbridge at the Chinook Trail junction. People have been using it all along, of course. There’s some chicken wire at the campsite (Someone has already used it as a barbecue grate), which tells me the problem with the bridge may not be structure – it’s at least as sound as my back deck, which isn’t saying a whole lot – as with footing. Maybe all they plan to do is hammer down some mesh?
West Creek footbridge, Siouxon Creek.jpg
Pool, Siouxon Creek.jpg
Siouxon Falls, Siouxon Creek.jpg
Vine maples, Siouxon Creek.jpg
Past Siouxon Falls, Siouxon Creek.jpg
Ferny woods, Siouxon Creek.jpg
Big Douglas-firs, Siouxon Creek.jpg
Chicken wire, Siouxon Creek.jpg
This is the first time I’ve ever forded both Chinook Creek and Siouxon Creek and kept my feet dry. I ambled across the fallen tree below Chinook Falls and then took Trail #130A up the steep slope. Higher up, I passed out of burn territory into some groves of tall Douglas-firs. Then the trail passes through a lush swamp with some impressive old growth cedars. From the swamp, the path follows an old road bed all the way up to FR 6403.
Chinook Creek Falls.jpg
Junction, Chinook and Wildcat Trails.jpg
Pholiota terrestris, Chinook Trail.jpg
Cedar swamp, Chinook Trail.jpg
Big cedar, Chinook Trail.jpg
I took the continuation of 6403 around the east end of the Siouxon-Huffman ridge. Views began to open up – north to Rainier and St. Helens, east to Adams, with the Swift Reservoir glistening below. Unfortunately, some of these are because of clear cuts on the north slope. There’s a tricky crossing of a slide that has demolished the old road bed: one misstep here and you’d be losing a lot of skin on a steep, bumpy slide down the chute.
Mt. Adams from the Siouxon Peak ridge.jpg
East end of the Siouxon Peak ridge.jpg
Mt. Adams from the Siouxon Peak Ridge-2.jpg
Slide crossing, east end, Siouxon Peak Ridge.jpg
The road bed, now the old track that serviced Siouxon Peak’s lookout, ends – although how a vehicle could get turned around there I’ll never guess – and becomes a real trail again. After winding up, I came to a rocky promontory, carpeted with common juniper and pinemat manzanita, which gave a vista straight across to Mt. St. Helens. Just beyond this, a short spur trail led up to the summit of Siouxon Peak. There were no views of St. Helens from here, but Mt. Hood, partially eclipsed by Observation Peak, could be seen to the south.
Mt. St. Helens from the viewpoint, Siouxon Peak Ridge.jpg
Looking west to Huffman Peak from Siouxon Peak.jpg
Mt. Adams from Siouxon Peak.jpg
Continuing along the Huffman Peak Trail in gnarly old silver fir forest, I noted one giant western hemlock and then peeled off on the Wildcat Trail. This trail actually ascends another 300 feet before switchbacking steeply down the ridge. Eventually I found myself at a manzanita-cloaked promontory looking down at the top of 200-foot Wildcat Falls and its sheer andesite cliffs. More switchbacking took me to the falls viewpoint and then down Wildcat Creek to the ford of the Siouxon. Last time I did this, the water came to the tops of my thighs, but in early fall it is not a ford at all, just a balancing act across slippery rocks. The three-mile lope back to the parking lot involved meeting several couples coming in armed with the mandatory plastic water bottle and nothing else and a few campers setting up for an overnight.
Silver fir old growth, Siouxon Peak Ridge.jpg
Junction, Huffman Peak-Wildcat Trails.jpg
Wildcat Falls, Wildcat Trail.jpg
Siouxon Creek at the ford.jpg
On the drive back, I snapped a picture of Tum Tum. I wonder if it's still for sale?
Tum Tum, Chelatchie.jpg
15 – 17 miles (depending on whom you believe in), 4,000’+ elevation gain

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Splintercat
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Re: Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by Splintercat » October 9th, 2014, 5:46 am

Excellent report and photos, Bobcat! I'm rolling my eyes a bit at the "chicken wire used as fire grate".... sheesh! Amazing, but I guess when you have a lot of hikers in an area, you're sure to have that sort of idiocy, too. :roll: I have yet to be up there when Chinook Creek when it could be reasonably forded, so enjoying your photo of the falls - very nice!

Thanks for posting!

Tom :-)

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sprengers4jc
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Re: Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by sprengers4jc » October 9th, 2014, 8:15 am

Nice TR, bobcat. We saw that chicken wire there when we camped in that area back in June. I was tempted to haul it out but didn't know if it might serve some purpose of which I was unaware...?

About this loop: that slide area looks scary for someone with my clumsiness issues. Is there a way to reach Siouxon Peak as an out and back by the Huffman trail, or no?
'We travel not to escape life but for life to not escape us.'
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bobcat
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Re: Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by bobcat » October 9th, 2014, 6:41 pm

@sprengers4jc: You could do an in and out going up the Wildcat Trail; then it would be less than a mile going east on the Huffman Peak Trail to Siouxon Peak.

Better though, you could do that detour as a side trip from the Huffman Peak Loop Hike.

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sprengers4jc
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Re: Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by sprengers4jc » October 9th, 2014, 8:13 pm

Excellent, thanks!
'We travel not to escape life but for life to not escape us.'
-Unknown

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K.Wagner
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Re: Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by K.Wagner » October 12th, 2014, 6:51 am

This spring I did a trip along the Huffman / Siouxon ridge, starting from the west end. Here is a link. Huffman / Siouxon Ridge
Kelly
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bobcat
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Re: Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by bobcat » October 16th, 2014, 10:20 am

@K.Wagner: Yes, I read your report with interest since it revealed easier access to that abandoned North Siouxon Loop. A couple of mountain biking websites offer that loop briefly as an "option" off of Huffman Ridge, but obviously have never done it themselves: difficult for a hiker, impossible for bikes because you'd be lugging them over fallen trees and branches the whole time. I'd like to attempt it some day from your starting point, knowing in advance that DNR has probably clearcut swaths of their section and obliterated most of their part of the loop.

The only relationship this loop has with the North Siouxon is that it crosses it - once.

handerson
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Re: Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by handerson » July 30th, 2019, 7:35 pm

As of July 30, 2019, the tricky slide you mentioned is still there, and still dangerous. It is only two or three steps to get across, but a misstep here would be very serious. I would probably advise against doing this loop in order to avoid this slide crossing. It is just not worth it. Siouxon Peak can be reached via either the Wildcat trail or the Huffman Ridge Trail as discussed in previous posts above.

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K.Wagner
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Re: Siouxon Peak Loop

Post by K.Wagner » July 31st, 2019, 11:25 am

Dangerous spots like that slide seem to be so subjective..... I did it last year, and wasn't bothered by it much. However, if there were kids along, I am not sure I would do it without a safety rope.

On the other hand, the rock chute on the #211 trail up from Coldwater Lake up to Snow Lake, seems to not bother others, but we found it almost unnervingly risky because of the poor foot placement, nothing for your uphill hand to grab, and big sharp granite rocks below.
Kelly
There is no shortcut to anyplace worth going to.

PM me about the soon to be released:
Skamania 231
"How to really get off the beaten path in Skamania County"

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