Saturday, August 08, 2009

Huckleberry Mountain

Didn't See A Single Huckleberry

Any hike with "Mountain" in it has sounded very appealing to me the last couple summers. When you add in "Huckleberry" and late summer, well, it's almost too much to pass up.

So the timing being right, and the name being right, and I was on my way to Huckleberry Mountain, a modest sort of mountain at a little under 5700', but just perfect for this coolish Saturday morning.

To get there, head out past Lake Cle Elum and at Salmon La Sac, where the paved road ends, veer right and head north for approximately 5.1 miles, turning right onto an unmarked side road. At less than .5 mile, find the a place to park just before the sign that says 4WD and just pass the turnoff to the Boulder-DeRoux trailhead.

I started the hike up the old jeep road (totally impassable for passenger vehicles), and immediately went past an old log cabin, well-maintained but vacant. Here the switchbacks began in earnest, looking like a snake on the map, as the rugged road works its way up the north side of Huckleberry Mountain, mostly through shady forest, with only occasional views southward down the Cle Elum River valley. The elevation gain is steady, if not spectacular and one wonders how even a super-Jeep could possibly get through, but fresh tire tracks show they they can.

At 3 miles is a wonderful spring with a mini-waterfall right next to the road. You can fill up your canteen here--this is the only water on this hike. In another quarter mile, the road forks with the main leg heading rightish, and the left switchback continuing up the mountain. Another half mile and the road ends and there's just a steep scramble to the top, not more than a quarter-mile. Work your way to the west and north side of the summit for smashing views. Hiking time to the top is about 2.5 hours, hiking time back down about 1.5 hours. Elevation gain 2300+ feet.

This is a nice hike, with the spring and the views being the primary payoff. Judging from the tire tracks, one may expect to encounter off-road vehicles. the threat of which leaves one somewhat disconcerted. This day however, I say neither man nor machine. Unfortunately, I also didn't see the mountain's namesake, which was a great disappointment.


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