There are a number of approaches to Jolly Mountain. The more traditional approach is via the Jolly Mountain Trail #1307, a 12 mile route through pine forest climbing over 4000ft along the way. We decided to take a shortcut to shave off some of that distance and elevation by following logging roads halfway up the mountainside. While shorter, the shortcut is somewhat less scenic, as it involves hiking along forest roads and traversing a few clearcuts. Still, the views from the summit are the real prize of this hike, and the shortcut delivers you to those views quickly.
The shortcut begins by following FR 4315 as far up the mountain as possible. There are two gates along the road, if the first one is locked, youre better off taking the traditional approach rather than hiking up miles of steep forest road. For us, we were stopped and the second gate, which left only about a mile of road to deal with before connecting up with the Sasse Mountain Trail #1340 and ascending the ridge. The route has a number of ups and downs, so be prepared for something of a workout. And, while hiking through clearcuts isnt typically something we look forward to doing, in this case they provided a great preview to the vistas that awaiting you at the summit.
There are a number of trail junctions along this route which can potentially cause some confusion. To avoid getting turned around, stick to the Sasse Mountain Trail until is connects with Jolly Mountain Trail #1307. Here, head uphill and stay on the Jolly Mountain Trail until you reach the summit and its impressive 360-degree views. Youll be able to easily pick out Mt. Rainier, Glacier Peak, Mt. Adams, Mt. Stuart and Mt. Daniel. Some of Jollys neighbors are also in attendance, including Sasse Mountain and Skookum Peak. Plan on spending some time here soaking up these expansive views.
While a shortcut, this route is still a little hard on the knees, so we dont recommend it for everyone. However, the views rank among some of the best weve ever seen, making it more than worth the effort to get to the top. Much like Hex Mountain
, this is not a wildly popular hike, typically seeing more traffic during the winter months, so youre unlikely to run into too many other hikers. However, both the Sasse Mountain Trail and the Jolly Mountain Trail are open to both motorcyclists and horseback riding, so be prepared to share the trail.
We have not been able to determine how the mountain came to be known as Jolly, though we assume there is probably a good story behind it. Between the railroads and the Forest Service, fire spotters were camping on Jolly Mountains summit by 1916, though it would be five more years before permanent cabin would be constructed. In 1936, the cabin was replaced and remained standing for over 30 years before it was destroyed in 1968. Today, lingering pieces of rusting metal and some carefully arranged rocks are the only remains of the lookout.