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Petes Creek - Colonel Bob Peak

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Climb a prominent peak on the western edge of the Olympic Mountains. From this 4000-plus-foot aerie above the saturated Quinault Valley, stare down upon sprawling rain forest. Enjoy an unobstructed view of shimmering Lake Quinault too, and from Mount Olympus to the Pacific take in an ocean of peaks and peek at the ocean. It's a tough climb to this rugged outpost on the periphery of the Olympics, but the panorama it provides is a worthy pursuit.

The hike to this peak is just like the man it was named for: straightforward and to the point. Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll was a Civil War veteran, politician, orator, and free thinker who never stepped foot on this peak, but some admiring climbers who did thought the peak should be named for him. The good colonel eventually got a wilderness area named after him too, the only wilderness on the west side of the Olympic National Forest.

It's just over 4 miles to the summit, but it'll feel a lot longer. Most of the way is steep, with several rocky sections. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Colonel Bob offers views into country rarely seen from high above. It's one of the very few hiker-accessible summits in the western reaches of the Olympics.

Start your journey on the Petes Creek Trail, immediately entering ancient forest and the Colonel Bob Wilderness. In just under a mile cross the creek. You may get your feet wet, you may not; some years the creek runs underground. The climb stiffens as the trail works its way up the west slope of neighboring Gibson Peak.

At 1.5 miles traverse a brushy avalanche slope. Another larger slope is encountered soon afterward and views open up of the Humptulips Valley. Steeply zigzag through rugged terrain and at 2.4 miles come to a junction with the Colonel Bob Trail (elev. 3000 ft). Head right, climbing yet more steep brush-choked slopes and finally receiving a reprieve at a gap (elev. 3700 ft) above Fletcher Canyon.

The trail now heads northwest, dropping a bit to a tarn-boulder- and creek-graced Moonshine Flats. One mile and 1000 feet of elevation gain still need to be covered. Through subalpine forest and skirting basalt cliffs, the rough trail steeply switchbacks to the summit cone, the final 100 feet on steps blasted into the rock.

One look from this former fire lookout site quickly validates all your pain and suffering. Lake Quinault twinkles below. Mount Olympus glistens to the north, while Mount Rainier hovers in the east over rows of scrappy hills and ridges. And fanning out below from your aerie hub is an emerald network of luxuriant rainforest valleys-a burgeoning kingdom of biomass.
Driving Directions:

From Hoquiam travel 25 miles north on US 101. Just past milepost 112 turn right onto Donkey Creek Road (Forest Road 22, signed for Wynoochee Lake). Follow this paved road for 8 miles to a junction. Turn left onto FR 2204 and continue 11 miles (the pavement ends in 3 miles) to the trailhead at Petes Creek. Privy available.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 43 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Petes Creek - Colonel Bob Peak — Nov 21, 2013 — Lionsmane
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Washouts | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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I drove from Olympia this morning and started up the trail at high noon. I got to the top at 2:10. I...
I drove from Olympia this morning and started up the trail at high noon. I got to the top at 2:10. I was the only hiker this day. There was snow (about 3-6 inches deep, hard and firm and easy to walk on) on 90% of the trail starting about halfway in between the intersection of petes creek and colonel bob trails and moonshine flats. About 30% of that section was frozen water in the trail so you must walk through the snow next to the trail. It was a very clear day and I could see all the mountains, the lake and the ocean. I could also see the coal plant in Centralia and the Satsop cooling towers. It was very cold but calm. I stayed at the top for about an hour and a half. There were a few breezes that made me put a couple layers on before the descent. I left at 3:30 and it was dark before I got back to the car. The temperature was below freezing the whole time and the book in the container at the top was soaking wet because the last person didn't tighten the lid securely and it was placed upsidedown so that it was full of water. The weather is supposed to be the same for the next several days so I might make another trip, although the plants are all in their winter stages. The ponds at Moonshine Flats were frozen over and were good for ice skating. I was alone. There were two or three trees across the trail.
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Petes Creek - Colonel Bob Peak — Sep 04, 2013 — Rawclam
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Overgrown | Bugs
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Made it to the top! My 55th birthday today and it was my wish to finally make it to the summit of Co...
Made it to the top! My 55th birthday today and it was my wish to finally make it to the summit of Col. Bob. This was a great day full of surprises.
    We started out at about 8 AM. the first mile or so were fairly uneventful and we have passed this way before. The first grade starts at about a mile and a half, not real steep but enough to get the sweat started. After emerging from the dense forested area you come to the slide area this is where some fun begins, especially if the sun is out... it ramps up in steepness for about the next 3/4 mile. Be sure in this area to look at the rock ridge to the east, there be goats on them boulders!
    After reaching the top of the slide area you get a well earned reprieve from the grade for a bit and are rewarded with your first glimpse of viewage (its my birthday and I decree this is a worthy word here). Trailing west you enter moonshine flats and a couple camp sites along with a great view of the waiting Col Bob peak, scoffing and taunting you to make that last mile or so climb...Before you depart go about 200 yards west on trail and take a short break at the memorial at Christopher's meadow.
     And now to get to the Col. you start up fairly steep and end up just as steep, it is just shy of a mile of hell, roots, rocks, slime, moss and totally, totally worth every damned drop of sweat that you will drip.(note, my GPS indicated 5.2 miles to the top from trailhead) The views on that rock are worth the price paid to get here. This was an emotional place for my wife and I to stand here today and look down at the Quinault valley below. We have been on an incredible journey for the last year and a half. Got in shape, saved our lives. A year and a half ago this hike was not in the cards, nor even imagined, now here we stand tears and smiles. We signed the summit log just as thunder started to roll from the valley to the south, it was time to head down. Probably a good thing for we may still be there taking it all in...
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Petes Creek - Colonel Bob Peak — Aug 10, 2013 — sw
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
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There were only 3 vehicles at the trailhead, and we all arrived within about 60 seconds of one anoth...
There were only 3 vehicles at the trailhead, and we all arrived within about 60 seconds of one another. One group headed toward the creek and the other group headed up to Colonel Bob Peak a few minutes ahead of us. We started out around noon and it took just a little over 3 hours for us to reach the summit. There were only 4 trees over the path, neither of them difficult to get past. Much of the vegetation and brush was a bit overgrown, but not too terribly. We didn't encounter any snow whatsoever. Flies got bothersome about halfway through the hike. We had lunch at the summit where we signed the log (in a black pvc-type container) and got some respite from the flies despite there being hardly any breeze at all. The day was hazy but we could still see Mt Rainier. A marine layer covered the coast so the ocean wasn't visible. Mt Olympus and Lake Quinault were absolutely gorgeous and made this hike worth it in the end. Considering we haven't done any long hikes yet this summer, I am not surprised that my calves still ached 2 days later! This trail starts climbing immediately and leaves you little relief on the way up with exception of the Moonshine Flats where we stopped to splash our faces with some cool running water. The trip down took roughly 2 hours, and many of the flies had disappeared by that time in the afternoon.
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Petes Creek - Colonel Bob Peak — Jul 05, 2013 — Rez
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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Late start on a cool, partly cloudy day. The lot at the trailhead was full, and we saw 22 people on...
Late start on a cool, partly cloudy day. The lot at the trailhead was full, and we saw 22 people on the trail. The most troublesome blowdowns of the past winter have now been cleared, but there are a couple of densely branched trees that will require you to assist any children with you.

Moonshine flats still has snowfields, but you will find it easy to negotiate; follow the steps to reconnect to bare trails.

The final climb out of Moonshine is marked well, but the upper reaches are still covered with dense snow; I recommend you bring hiking poles to assist. We made it without any snowshoes, or ice equipment, and from now through the rest of the summer it should get progressively easier.

The salmonberries & huckleberries were found at lower elevations. Lots of Columbine just above the trail-merge. We had 360 degree views from the summit.
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Petes Creek - Colonel Bob Peak — Jun 30, 2013 — Maura
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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We chose this hike simply due to it's location, we had camped the previous night at the Campbell Tre...
We chose this hike simply due to it's location, we had camped the previous night at the Campbell Tree Grove Campground and had seen the Pete's Creek trailhead on our way in. We were inadequately prepared for this hike. With steep and rugged terrain we wished we had brought along hiking boots, rather than hiking shoes. Trekking poles and gators also would've proved useful. We infrequently encountered water on the trail and there was still some snow that had us turning back short of the summit. We turned around at Fletcher Creek, 3.5 miles in. We did encounter two backpackers who had successfully summitted but they were much better equipped than we were. We were pleased to reach a great view of the Olympics despite not being able to reach the summit. The trail was often tight in the first section due to some slightly overgrown, low growing plants. It was hot, in the upper 70s and we were glad we had sunscreen along. While a good portion of the hike is in the woods, the sections in the sun provide little to no protection from the beating sun. There were beautiful wild flowers growing all over at our turnaround point. Bugs weren't too bad, some biting flies and bees around all the wildflowers. There was one stream crossing that was a little tricky but there were many options of crossing sites to chose from. We wish we would've done it a bit later in the season making a summit more of a possibility.

For more photos and a complete report visit our blog at http://bobbyandmaura.com/[…]/petes-creek-colonel-bob-peak
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colonel bob- by nutmeg.jpeg
Enjoy fantastic views atop Colonel Bob Peak. Photo by Nutmeg.
WTA worked here!
2011
Location
Petes Creek (#858), Colonel Bob (#851)
Olympics -- West
Olympic National Forest - Pacific Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.2 miles
Elevation Gain 3300 ft
Highest Point 4510 ft
Features
Old growth
Mountain views
Summits
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Grisdale No. 198
Custom Correct Quinault-Colonel Bob

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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  • BCRT 2011
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