The northernmost section of the Gifford Pinchot near Randle WA is full of trails and mountains, but gets little notice because it is centered between the big volcanoes of Mt Rainier, Adams, Helens and Goat Rocks. There are hundreds of little peaks worthy of exploration in this area with good maintained FS routes, plus lots of old roads and trails in various states of maintenance for your adventuring pleasure.
The 17 mile long Klickitat Trail #7, takes you on a rolling subalpine route from west to east at 4000 ft where you can access ridgetops, big trees, numerous scramble summits, sparkling lakes, and....solitude!
I spent two days here. Started my exploration in the middle of the trail at Jackpot Lake, which is easily accessible via FR 23. I headed westerly on the trail and did a 10 mile out and back trip, visiting Cispus and Pompey Peaks- former LO sites with trails to the top. Also passed under Castle Butte and Twin Sisters, both look attainable with some fun route finding. 10 miles RT. Camped near Jackpot Lake. It was summer weather, but the fall colors were starting and the huckleberries were ripe.
First stop Cispus Peak. Beautiful meadows below the summit block:
You pass by the remnants of the old guard station on the way up.
Unobstructed 360 degree view from the summit of Cispus. This is looking north at Rainier with Castle Butte in foreground.
Looking east at Goat Rocks:
Near the western end of the Klickit trail is a short trail up to the summit of Pompey Peak. Another LO site with in your face view of Rainier and the Cispus Valley below.
Nearby South Point Mountain- another former LO site with a great summit. Trail can also be reached from FS 23.
I spent the night near Jackpot Lake. The next morning, I headed in the other direction. The eastern section of trail was more forested and seemed less traveled. You pass by Cold Springs Butte and Horseshoe Point, then the lovely Saint Johns Lake which has a nice campsite.
My goal was to find the Sanctuary Arch near Mission mountain-and yes it's right where the topo map says! Easy scramble up from the trail at a saddle just W of Mission Mountain. I did not see the arch until I was almost on top of it.
Here is my first view. Behind it is the appropriately named Stonewall Ridge, which obscures all but the tippy top of Tahoma.
I added a human for scale. Th other side is vertical cliff with long drop off.
View of Adams from near the arch:
Took a dip in St John Lake on my return.
Ended up being a 17 mile day. I would recommend camping at the lake for this trip. The trail continues a few miles past Mission mountain to the eastern trailhead at Hugo Lake(reachable from FS 21), but I didn't visit that section.
Along the way, I cam across this bit of animalia. I thought it was a feather, but when I picked it up I realized it was fur! It was a flat spray and I could feel many tiny vertebrae running down the middle. I'm pretty confident it was the tail of a northern flying squirrel! No other animal remains around for further clues.
The trail is well maintained on the western section, open to bikes, and indeed the only human I met in two days was a single mountain biker. The trail east of Jackpot has more blow down and a lesser defined tread.
This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
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