This year I decided to foray into leading for the Mountaineers. It’s something I’d been thinking about for a while, giving back to the community that has given me so much. The thing that made the most sense to me was to lead hikes for the organization. After going through the new hike leader seminar I needed to do a mentored lead hike. My friend Ananth was set to be my mentor and he suggested leading Thorp Mountain. I hadn’t done this peak before but I knew he wanted to tick it off his peak-bagging list so I agreed.
drive time from Seattle
Boots for Snow
We decided on the Knox Creek route up Thorp Mountain. It’s the shortest and steepest of the trails to get to the summit. The first challenge was to find the trailhead for this hike. The road it’s on isn’t on google maps (though it was on my Jeep’s GPS), so we directed to French Creek Road and once on the road there were signposts directing to the trailhead. We got 1.5 miles up the road before hitting a bit that is badly eroded. We had my Jeep and a Crosstrek, my Jeep would have been fine but it looked a little close for the Crosstrek so we parked on the side of the road (after turning around to make sure we faced the right way to get out). Which added an extra half mile each way to the hike.
We walked up the washed-out road to get to the trailhead which would be easy to miss, the ‘parking lot’ just looks like a bit of a turn out off the road, there is a weathered sign but it’s up a tree with a very small pink ribbon trying to draw your attention. The switchbacks on the trail are in really great shape, it is a very narrow trail so passing other hikers was a little tricky. Flowers were starting to come out, with different parts of the mountain at different stages, we saw Lilies, trillium, paintbrush, lupine, bluebells and more! It did feel like it was still a little early and another week or so more will be blooming.
There was snow covering the trail just before the junction with the Kachess Ridge Trail, 1315. But this junction was clearly marked with signs. Following the Kachess Ridge Trail north, it was also snow-covered so we checked our map often to make sure we were going the right way. Along the ridge there was a clearing where we got our first view of the mountain and the lookout tower on top. Just before we reached the junction with the Thorp Mountain trail (which was again snow-covered but well signposted) we had to maneuver around a tree that’s bent over the trail.
The switchbacks up to the summit of Thorp Mountain were easy enough to follow with crossing some snow patches required. The views from the switchbacks as you hike up were great, teasing us with what was to come at the summit. The lookout on the summit seems in great condition and the views were 360! We had fun basking on a nice rock in the sun and trying to identify some of the peaks we could see around us.
After a good amount of time on the summit we made our way back down to the cars, we didn’t have to stop nearly as much as we did on the way up. Overall it took us longer than I thought for the mileage but it’s hard to take into account other peoples fitness levels. I was also pleased with how much more scenic the hike was than I expected but we really lucked out with the weather.