Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

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bobcat
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Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by bobcat » May 24th, 2020, 8:15 pm

For my Memorial weekend outing, I went back to the upper reaches of the Klickitat and hiked the gated track to the summit of Grayback Mountain. While I wasn’t particularly close to home, I was far from milling covid crowds and socially distanced from the nearest humans by a mile or two for most of the day.

The trailhead for Grayback Mountain is off of the Glenwood Highway. For a while, this dirt logging track across Western Pacific Lumber Company land is flat and running through oak and ponderosa woodland. After crossing Sheep Creek it begins to rise more sharply, reaching the open slopes of Grayback Mountain and offering ever-expansive views. Here. the track crosses a section of private land with No Trespassing signs posted on either side.

Trailhead, Grayback Mountain.jpg
White-stemmed frasera (Frasera albicaulis), Grayback Mountain.jpg
Harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), Grayback Mountain.jpg
Ponderosa parkland, Grayback Mountain.jpg
Buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus), Grayback Mountain.jpg
Spurred lupine (Lupinus arbustus), Grayback Mountain.jpg
Mahala mat (Ceanothus prostratus), Grayback Mountain.jpg
Ascent road, Grayback Mountain.jpg

Views open up, with Hood, Adams and Rainier becoming visible and the Klickitat River snaking below in its forested canyon. There’s a shed and small antenna at the top on the site of an old lookout – only the guy cable anchors remain. On such a clear day, the views north to Goat Rocks were outstanding; Mt. Adams loomed large, with St. Helens peeking above King Mountain and the whole spine of Indian Heaven visible. To the south, only the summit of Mt. Jefferson showed itself, but I could make out all three of the Sisters as well as Mt. Bachelor.

View southwest, Grayback Mountain.jpg
Oak woods, Grayback Mountain.jpg
Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier, Grayback Mountain.jpg
Balsamroot slope, Grayback Mountain.jpg
Carey's balsamroot (Balsamorhiza careyana), Grayback Mountain.jpg
Summit shed, Grayback Mountain.jpg
Guy cable anchors, old lookout, Grayback Mountain.jpg
Long-leaf phlox (Phlox longifolia), Grayback Mountain.jpg
Yellow desert daisy (Erigeron linearis), Grayback Mountain.jpg

Bitterroot was blooming at the summit, and a slope of blooming balsamroot spread below me. I took a shortcut down the open hillside, hoping for cross-country jaunt on the return, but the No Trespassing signs deterred me, and I stuck with the road for the most part.

Looking down on the Klickitat from Grayback Mountain.jpg
Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor from Grayback Mountain.jpg
Mt. Adams from Grayback Mountain.jpg
Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks from Grayback Mountain.jpg
Suksdorf's desert parsley (Lomatium suksdorfii), Grayback Mountain.jpg
Bitterroot trio, Grayback Mountain.jpg

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adamschneider
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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by adamschneider » May 24th, 2020, 9:16 pm

Good to know that hike is legal. I'd heard that the trek through private land made the whole thing verboten, but I guess they had to allow passage on the road right-of-way. Bummer that you can't bushwhack though.

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bobcat
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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by bobcat » May 25th, 2020, 4:16 pm

It's fine as long as you stick to the road. (You can do a little wandering on the slope south from the summit as that is DNR and BLM. The whole north side is Yakama Reservation.) Hunters are permitted on the timber company's land and disabled hunters can drive the road as far as the private parcel, which belongs to a Centerville rancher. There's no fence or gate at the boundary, and I think the signs are there more to deter hunters and their campfires. Lower down, there are a bunch of private holdings with buildings between the road and the Klickitat Wildlife Area, so best not to get off track.

Another way to access (and shortening the day by about two miles) is from the Klickitat Wildlife Area. A track leads across private land (hiker access permitted, at least for now) to connect to the Grayback Mountain Road.

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adamschneider
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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by adamschneider » May 25th, 2020, 4:28 pm

bobcat wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 4:16 pm
Another way to access (and shortening the day by about two miles) is from the Klickitat Wildlife Area. A track leads across private land (hiker access permitted, at least for now) to connect to the Grayback Mountain Road.
I think the trailhead you used is in the KWA too. What are the coordinates of the starting point of the shorter way?

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bobcat
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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by bobcat » May 26th, 2020, 5:34 am

Approx. 45.9474; -121.0774.

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adamschneider
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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by adamschneider » May 26th, 2020, 11:12 am

Is there any reason to think bikes wouldn't be allowed on Grayback Mountain Road?

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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by Webfoot » May 28th, 2020, 4:52 am

Some of the signs in that area read "no unauthorized vehicles beyond this sign" which could be applied to bicycles, so be prepared to argue your case? They're probably more concerned with ATV's.

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Charley
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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by Charley » May 28th, 2020, 10:21 pm

adamschneider wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 11:12 am
Is there any reason to think bikes wouldn't be allowed on Grayback Mountain Road?
Just found this:

https://ridewithgps.com/ambassador_rout ... k-mountain

Don't know if it's allowed, but it looks like you wouldn't be the first to ride it!

I'm really interested in this area, because I love the oak woodlands around Catherine Creek, and the lower Klickitat. This looks like a nice area to visit. Thanks for the report!

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bobcat
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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by bobcat » May 29th, 2020, 7:41 am

Bikes are fine; also horses - just stay on the roads and stay off the jeep tracks at the No Trespassing signs at the bottom of the rise to the summit.

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ezra
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Re: Grayback Mountain (Simcoe Mts.) 5-23-20

Post by ezra » May 29th, 2020, 2:27 pm

How long was the hike to the summit from where you started? looking to head out here this weekend, and it looks like a lot of the track as described by mountain bikers is long and flat. We would like to make it to the summit, but not sure that is realistic from where we can park.

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