Our Hiking Time: 5h 15m
Total Ascent: 3500ft
Highest Point: 4300ft
Total Distance: 6.5 miles
Location: N 47° 30.3420, W 123° 17.3460
Required Permit: None
A few weeks ago we headed back to the Olympic Peninsula to continue our exploration of the Mount Skokomish Wilderness. Last summer, our trek up to the Lake of Angels gave us a taste of the northern reaches of the Wilderness. This year, we decided to check out the southern portion of the wilderness by taking on Mt. Ellinor’s neglected neighbor Mt. Rose. We were hoping for more of the stunning vistas we found on the way to the Lake of Angels, and Mt. Rose did not disappoint.
Mt. Rose is named for Mr. and Mrs. Aldred Rose, who travelled to the Pacific Northwest in 1885. They traded their life in California for a 150-acre claim on the shores of Lake Cushman. Sadly, Aldred died of smallpox in January of 1889, and the mountain is likely named in his honor after his untimely death.
The Mount Skokomish Wilderness was established by Congress through the Washington State Wilderness Act of 1984. Today, the 13,015 acre Wilderness remains wild; only four trails provide access to the area – the Mildred Lakes Trail, Mt. Ellinor Trail, Mt. Rose Trail, and the Putvin Trail – with a combined length of less than 14 miles. Still, the area is not so remote as to avoid the touch of man. In 2006, a man-made forest fire began on the shores of Lake Cushman quickly spread toward Mt. Rose, charring large sections of the mountain and searing most of the vegetation off the summit.
Mt. Rose #814 begins along a reclaimed road, gliding under a canopy of alder and cedar. The serene setting quickly becomes serious as the trail begins to switchback up the steep mountainside. As you climb, watch as the forest dries out, leaving the lush mixed forest, teeming with underbrush below, shifting to more mature stands of fir with hardier undergrowth. At just over a mile you’ll cross into the Mount Skokomish Wilderness and the trail continues to prod you relentlessly upward. Push on for another three-quarters of a mile to a small plateau signed “Horsecamp.”
From here, the trail splits into a loop to the summit. The shorter approach is to the left, though it is quite a bit steeper. The longer approach offers an extra half-mile of gentler terrain, which can be a nice change of pace on the way up, or preserve your knees for the way down. During the summer, choose whichever works best for you. However, if there is still significant snow on the trail, head left as deep snows linger late into the season on the longer approach. Either way, there is another mile of toil before you reach the rocky summit of Mt. Rose. Along the way, catch glimpses of Mt. Ellinor and Copper Mountain through the trees before passing into stands of weather-bleached trees burnt by the 2006 fire. Once you reach the top, settle in to take in Lake Cushman and the mountains spreading out before you. Directly across the water is Lightening Peak and Timber Mountain. In the distance behind them, you can pick out Capital Peak, Wonder Mountain, and Church Peak.
To get there, take I-5 south to Olympia to Exit 104 toward Aberdeen and Port Angeles. Follow US 101 along Hood Canal just over 35 miles through Shelton to Hoodsport. Turn left onto Lake Cushman Road/State Route 119 and follow for a little over 9 miles to a T-intersection. Head left onto Forest Road 24. Continue for just under 3 miles to the signed driveway of the trailhead parking lot. -Nathan
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