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Hex Mountain Snowshoe

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This trail represents the epitome of snowshoeing in the Cascades: a long, steady, often-steep climb through lush old forests ending at a high ridge with panoramic views of unmatched beauty. After soaking in the scenic splendor at the summit, snowshoers then reverse direction and follow their tracks back down the slope.
What sets this trail apart from others is that the slopes are well forested and sheltered, so avalanche hazards are minimal and snowshoeing, though steep at times, is relatively easy. Starting from Salmon la Sac Road (State Route 903), the snowshoe hike begins with a climb on an old, winding logging road through mixed forest and small clearcuts. Some nice views are found on the way up the trail, but the best are left until snowshoers top the ridge and turn around to see the breathtaking vistas to the west. Cle Elum Lake sprawls directly underfoot, and just beyond that is Mount Baldy, Thomas Mountain, West Peak, and Thorp Mountain along the crest of Kachess Ridge.

If you park at Newport Creek, walk up the highway to FR 116 before strapping on your snowshoes and starting the climb. The road leads northeast, always climbing, past several spur roads and side trails. Most of these are easily discernible as secondary roads, but at times the forks and junctions can be confusing. Unfortunately, trying to map all the junctions and byways is difficult, so you will have to use your best judgment and occasionally backtrack if you make a wrong turn. (Fortunately, the side roads are generally short, so you'll quickly realize your errors. For example, if the road dips or heads too far off the northeast bearing that is required, it's the wrong road.)

After the first mile of the road, the options decrease and the main road is the only one to follow until, at 1.2 miles, the road traverses above a small creek valley and, at 1.7 miles, ends at the summer trailhead parking area. Here is where the fun really begins. Snowshoeing up the narrow forest trail as it climbs the ridge crest toward Hex Mountain is a wonderful experience. With snowshoes you can easily climb, weave around trees, and generally enjoy the day as you soak in the beauty of the forest environment. This area is home to red foxes and an assortment of birds and small animals. Of course, whiskey jacks pester every human who enters the forest, thus living up to their alias, camp-robber jays, and great horned owls silently patrol the woods in search of mice, voles, martens, and hares.

The trail climbs for more than 1.5 miles, with only occasional glimpses of the world beyond the trees. At 3.3 miles from the start of the hike, the trail tops out on the south end of Sasse Ridge, just below the summit of Hex Mountain (Route 62 continues along Sasse Ridge). Turn right onto the Sasse Ridge Trail, and hike 0.25 mile to the summit for striking views of the eastern Cascades.

Author’s Rating: More Difficult
Some previous snowshoe experience helpful. Some winter survival skills recommended (basic knowledge of avalanche evaluation, emergency shelter construction, etc.). Elevation gain is usually less than 1000 feet with a gradual slope.
Driving Directions:

To get there, from Seattle drive east on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass to exit 80, signed Roslyn. Turn north onto the Bullfrog Cutoff Road, and drive to its end at a junction with SR 903. Turn left and continue north 9 miles, passing through the towns of Roslyn and Ronald, to reach the junction of Forest Road 116 on the right. If a turnout is plowed out here, park in it; otherwise, go back down SR 903 about 300 feet to a plowed area on the west side of the highway near where it crosses Newport Creek.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 71 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Hex Mountain Snowshoe — Mar 30, 2014 — Putz-in-Boots
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Matt has never been to Hex...I couldn't believe it! Since the weather wasn't supposed to be the best...
Matt has never been to Hex...I couldn't believe it! Since the weather wasn't supposed to be the best, a trip to the east side of the crest seemed in order. The motley crew was: SuzanneH, Barry, Gus (the wonderdog), Carla, Elle, Izzy (cute border collie), Matt, SuzanneR, Tom, Jasper (the snowpig), Barb, and me. Lots of arranging of cars at park and ride lots before heading over I-90.

Weather improved as we headed over the crest. Good. We exited at the Roslyn exit, through a couple of traffic circles, then through Roslyn and Ronald, and then finally up the road. We parked right at the side of the road, near the gate.

We started out without snowshoes because the snow was thin but even so, it wasn't worth it. A few hundred feet up the road we dropped packs and put snowshoes on. It was just easier. The road is partially melted out in a couple of places but with snowshoes on we were able to walk around the dirt patches...a few we just stomped across the bard dirt. The road climbs steadily up. Just shy of two miles up the road is the summer trailhead (elev 3467).

The trail stays on the high point of the SW ridge of Hex. It's treed at first but then eventually opens up. I've done Hex several times and each time this open spot on the ridge is windy. Real windy. Today was no exception.

At the junction with the Sasse Mtn trail we headed right (SE) a short distance to the high point of Hex (3.75mi, elev 5034'). The trail drops a little bit, then heads back up. The summit is open and as expected...it was windy. There were a couple of quick photos and then we backtracked to the first saddle down below for a lunch break. Today was the fourth birthday for my new knees so I brought brownies for the group.

Eventually it was time to pack up. Instead of heading up the high point where the trail junction was, we traversed on the south face a 50-60' below the high point until we met up with the summer trail. Then it was down, down, down to the road and a not so long soul sucking road walk back to the car.

Stats: 7.46mi, 2756' gain (round trip)

More photos here: http://www.putz-in-boots.com/[…]/hex_mtn_tr.html
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Hex Mountain Snowshoe — Feb 01, 2014 — D.Baxter
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Quick trip up Hex Mountain. Chilly in the valley but above freezing. I walked about 3/4 of a mile ...
Quick trip up Hex Mountain. Chilly in the valley but above freezing. I walked about 3/4 of a mile in a frozen snowmobile track to the point where it veered off, then put on my snowshoes. Snow had a weird inch thick crust over several inches of powder over a solid ice crust. Made for tiring trail breaking being the first one up there since the storm. Around 4800 ft the crust began to give way to soft powder. Amazingly I could follow the summer route easily and even spot the trail signs for Sasse Ridge.

Clouds blew in and out, blocking any big views, but at least the winds were mild and temperatures weren't too cold. About 30 degrees difference vs last weekend at the same elevation though. Flew my Seahawks flag and signed for the 12th Man before heading down, passing another hiker ascending wearing a Seahawks jersey.
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Hex Mountain Snowshoe — Jan 05, 2014 — Dr_Novo
Day hike
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There wasn't enough snow to need snowshoes, though we used them for extra traction the last bit to t...
There wasn't enough snow to need snowshoes, though we used them for extra traction the last bit to the top as there was some snow and it was a bit steep.

There has clearly been a bit of development in the roads since the official description was written, and attempting to follow the main road will take you off course. I've attempted to make the correct route in the pictures, though I can't say how long those will stay accurate.

We started at the second road on the right after Newport creek, which has a small yellow gate. From the map, it looks like one could start at the next road down as well, though, as some other trail report noted, some of this area seems to be private property and it isn't clear which is which.
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Hex Mountain Snowshoe — Dec 07, 2013 — marmot19
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Despite the frigid temps, we decided to get outside and enjoy the sunny weather. The car thermomete...
Despite the frigid temps, we decided to get outside and enjoy the sunny weather. The car thermometer registered between 1 degree and 3 degrees F as we headed north on Hwy 903 along Lake Cle Elum.
We followed guidebook directions and had our map in hand, nonetheless, it was a bit of a guess to locate the FS road that begins this route. There are 3 roads off to the right after crossing Newport Creek. The FS road 116 is the third one, but not marked.

There is not much snow on the FS road, but there is very thick ice at the start-- so we parked at the beginning of the FS road and walked up the 1.7 miles (or whatever) to the Hex Mtn TH. Bottom line-- not enough snow to disguise the roads and certainly not enough to justify snowshoes. Along the trail the deepest was 4-5 inches, and it was so cold the snow was a beautiful crystalline powder that you could shake off your boots. Lots of fresh tracks from elk, deer and rabbit.

Even so, the blue skies and sun made it very pretty and views of the lake and hills beyond were lovely. Unfortunately, we had an early turnaround time and did not get to the actual peak of Hex, perhaps the snow is a little deeper there.
With temps moderating and more moisture in the air, we will wait a few weeks and go again.
BTW, if you look at the Google representation of the FS road, it looks straight Believe me, it is not . and not all the spurs on your Green trails so pay attention :-)
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Hex Mountain Snowshoe — Mar 31, 2013 — HikerBiker
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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We wanted to go to Hex Mountain of course, but we lost the trail and ended up somewhere else - no co...
We wanted to go to Hex Mountain of course, but we lost the trail and ended up somewhere else - no complaints though, it was gorgeous! But from another hiker who made it to the Hex Mountain, we found out where we missed the trail. After starting from the gate in 1/6th of a mile, turn right onto the first fork (it's not very obvious, see the picture where you need to make the right turn). Then keep mostly right for the next fork as well.
 
We didn't see any sign saying FR-116. There is a sign that says Newport Creek Dr. - that's where you'll have to turn, you'll see the gate within 50 ft or so.
 
A lot of snow has melted. Where we went, we really didn't need snowshoe. You'll probably need for Hex Mountain though.
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hex mountain opus.jpg
From the summit of Hex Mountain. Photo by Opus.
Location
Hex Mountain (#1343)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Cle Elum Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 7.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2600 ft
Highest Point 5034 ft
Features
Mountain views
Ridges/passes
Guidebooks & Maps
Snowshoe Routes - Washington by Dan Nelson (Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails: Kachess Lake No. 208

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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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