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Little Salmon La Sac

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Sasse Ridge, Little Salmon La Sac — Jul 14, 2013 — muffinprincess
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Clogged drainage | Overgrown | Water on trail | Bugs
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Sheltered by a lack of clear signage, an approach that incorporates miles of dirt roads through reco...
Sheltered by a lack of clear signage, an approach that incorporates miles of dirt roads through recovering clear cuts, and unmaintained to boot, the way to Sasse Mountain is much-neglected but well worth the effort. The entire day we did not see a single person, and not so much as a bootprint on the trail between the road end and attaining the ridge. (Though some mad person had found a way to get a motorbike up, somehow, via one of the connecting trails.)

We looked for Forest Road 128 is off the Salmon La Sac Road just beyond Red Mountain Campground and missed the sign twice, and ultimately didn't see it until making the hard right turn on to 128. If you come to a right-hand turn with a stop sign, you've gone too far. If you come to an old forest service cabin, you have really gone too far.

From there we took our small SUV to roughly the same elevation as the guidebook author suggested before pulling off and hoofing it - this was at about 3400 feet, but I suspect that we could have pushed up to a switchback at 3650 feet. Your willingness to risk your car over some large humps in the road will be your guide, but compared to the road up to the Davis Peak trailhead that we inadvertently scouted, this was a picnic. No matter. Pull over, pull on your packs, and enjoy what nature is slowly rebuilding as you ascend at a steady pace, taking care to avoid the various spurs. Note that there are no actual gates between you and the trailhead, but this would be a pretty short hike if you took your high-clearance vehicle all the way to the road-end. (More time for ridge walking, but the last bit of road is especially sketchy.)

We found the road-end "trailhead," such as it was, a high point with great views to the west of Lima, Chimney Rock, and Mount Daniels, among many others, and the headwaters of Lake Cle Elum laid out below. You could be almost forgiven for turning back here. (Almost. But what fun is it in saying you hiked a logging road all day?) A cairn sitting atop a stump pointed our way to Trail 1325 - the sign for Little Salmon La Sac was located helpfully just beyond the treeline, facing the shade.
Pretty quickly we started climbing up. This trail is just as unmaintained as advertised - trees lay over the path in places, some of them large, some of them with primitive reroutes. There are a couple of very pretty geological formations to look at - clear, flat layers of sedimentary rock in a sheer cliff face marked our eventual destination. The trail ascended straight up the left margin of a scree slope. Look up and right for some gorgeous gray columnar basalt, between gasps for breath. You could almost be forgiven for turning back where the trail turns blessedly away from the scree, where a further view echoes the previous views toward Mount Daniel. (Almost, but you're nearly there.)

Next traipse through a very boggy section of trail, where we doused our boots in a surprising amount of mud and wet grass. There is a perfectly situated log that fell roughly in the direction of the temporarily missing trail. After coming to the end of it, zig up hill about 10 feet and look to your left. The trail is found. From here it was a short distance to the ridgeline. The trail forks - right, marked by s helpful hieroglyphic advising against motorbiking, is the direction of Sasse Mountain. We employed our guts and went left toward the prettiest mountains we could see. Mistaken, but when we came up to the high point on the ridge, we were interested in views.

We kept climbing - the high point roughly northward was a bit too heavily wooded for the perfect views we craved, but just five minutes back down the direction we came there was a great knob of rock with stunning views of Mount Rainier laid out before us, an unexpected treat for people who did not read the hike description too closely, and chose a trail on the one Green Trails map they didn't bring with them. We made do with a larger map but had a curious difficulty with telling north from south.

The guidebook as written suggests that the trail flattens out and turns into pleasant alpine meadows after a time. If we had turned south toward Hex, that might have been the result. As it was, this hike was more challenging than expected given what we read. I was recovering from a foot injury and had been particularly attracted to the idea that this hike featured views almost as good from Jolly, minus the gut-busting workout. I nursed the suspicion that if I had reinjured the foot and ended my hiking season, this would have been worth it.

Water note: the hike description suggests this is a dry hike. I would point out there are culverts draining near the road that were loud enough to make themselves known, and just before the boggy section of the trail there is a small creek crossing that would make do in a pinch, as long as you didn't mind the odd bit of sediment. I carried 3 liters of water and a small carton of coconut water, and finished with a bit of water to spare. Temperatures hovered around 87 - 89 degrees all day.
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Little Salmon La Sac, Sasse Ridge — Sep 16, 2011 — whitebark
Day hike
Features: Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Water on trail
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For today's adventure, we did hike #82 in the "Day Hike:Snoqualmie Region", titled Sasse Ridge. From...
For today's adventure, we did hike #82 in the "Day Hike:Snoqualmie Region", titled Sasse Ridge. From Roslyn we followed the Salmon La Sac road past Lake Cle Elum, then turned right onto FS# 128. This gravel logging road was mostly smooth, but had some deep drain dips that will cause low-slung cars (like our Prius) some trouble We parked pretty much where the book recommends, a long two miles up the road, then walked from there. Beyond the parking spot, the road steepens quite a bit, but high clearance vehicles should have no trouble driving all the way to the end of the road. The book said it was 2 miles, but the actual distance was more like 3. The road walk was a bit tedious although views got better and better as we climbed.

At the top of the clearcut, true trail began. Lots of blueberries to pick near the parking area. The Little Salmon La Sac trail (the book fails to mention the trail's name) traversed past a few gullies, then at the base of a rockslide it turned hard to the right and started climbing very steeply along the side of a talus slope. There was a pile of blowdowns blocking the trail here, which we bypassed by climbing strait up the rockslide. The steep climb lasted for perhaps a quarter mile, then the trail veered into the woods and became quite a bit more gentle. A cliff of what looked like columnar basalt, and the huge pile of talus below it, was an interesting sight.

Midway up the climbing traverse of Sasse Mountain's north slope, the trail crossed a small swampy meadow, fed by a vigorous spring, which would be a total mudhole if this trail were used much. We found the continuation of the trail at the top left side of the meadow. A short climb beyond the meadow brought up to the summit of the ridge and junction with the Sasse Ridge Trail, about one mile from the start of the trail.

Here we found that this notoriously inaccurate guidebook contained a huge error. It recommends that hiker turn right and ascend to the summit of Sasse Mountain, where (it promised) meadows and views. Well, there are no such things - contrary to the book's description, Sasse Mountain's summit is forested and viewless. .

After returning from the summit of Sasse Mountain, which will appeal only to peak baggers, we followed the Sasse Ridge Trail north from the Little Salmon La Sac Trail junction and soon arrived at an open, spectacular ridgeline with steep meadows and cliffs falling away on either side. Perhaps the guidebook author was thinking of this part of the Sasse Ridge trail when he wrote the chapter. We scrambled about the craggy ridgeline for a bit, then were chased off the ridge by an actic wind - fall finally seems to have arrived in the mountains. After this ridgeline romp, we retraced out steps back to the car, but not before harvesting a bunch of tasty berries in the clearcut area at the trailhead.

All in all, the scenic and little-used Little Salmon La Sac trail offers a nice quick way to get to Sasse Ridge, at least if you have a high clearance car. Don't bother with Sasse Mountain, turn left when you reach the ridge.
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Little Salmon La Sac, Sasse Ridge — Aug 29, 2011 — aimhigh
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes
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Solitude and views, this hike has plenty of both. But you'll have to earn it. The first probl...
   Solitude and views, this hike has plenty of both. But you'll have to earn it.
   The first problem is forest road 128,which leads you to the start of the trail. It is easily located off Salmon la Sac Road heading north. Soon after you pass Red Mountain campground on the left you will find the gravel road on the right. Turn onto this road and shortly there is a fork and you need to bear right. The first concern are some dry waterbars in the road which will require a high clearance 4x4 vehicle to proceed. There are about three bad ones on the bottom part of the road and these are the worst ones you will encounter on the whole road. Its a long road. Gravel will turn rocky. The road will be brushy in places and you will have to press into the brush in places or fall off the road. The road improves here and there, but really remains about the same almost all the way up,steep, rocky and narrow. It gets a little steeper towards the top. Most of the switchbacks offer some turning around room if you should wish to stop and hike the rest of the way up. Gynormous views from the road.
   On one of the last switchbacks,the rock face of Sasse ridge suddenly comes into view. Be aware that if you haven't left your vehicle by this point (we did) there are more hazards ahead. One is a dead tree stuck in the road which has to be skirted around on the soft shoulder. If you get past that then you should stop at the fork ahead. The left fork takes you down to a clearing and the right side takes you to the trailhead at the end of the road. There is some deep loose gravel on the remaining steep road, so you might just walk that last part, if indeed you didn't start walking a long time ago.
   Now you can start hiking the trail! The first part passes through what is probably an avalanche gully when there is snow but now there are some downed trees to climb over or go around.Next you will be climbing the trail alongside the rock filled gully. The footing is a little loose, so you know you will be slipping coming down.
The trail then takes you through some dry forest until you come to a bog from a spring. The trail passes right through it with only some rotten downed trees in places to elevate you. Running water flowed into my boots when there was nowhere to get out of the muck. Its really soft, move quickly to keep from sinking dangerously. Perhaps there is another way around.
  Now its not much further to the junction of the Sasse ridge trail, where there are huge views and its still spring (well, late spring anyway).
  NO BUGS. Hot, but Breezy
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Little Salmon La Sac #1325 — Aug 11, 2006 — silver marmot
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes
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trail can be found at the end of Rd. 128. near the end of the road, you come to a split. Take the ri...

trail can be found at the end of Rd. 128. near the end of the road, you come to a split. Take the right branch, uphill a short distanct to the road-end. look for a small footpath among the stumps and huckleberries, heading towards the trees on your right. once in the trees, you will see a sign for the ""trail."" The trail, such as it is, heads straight up the left side of a rock field before turning left into the forest. When you reach the meadow/bog, go uphill a short distance to pick up the trail again.

this trail serves as a shortcut to the Sasse Ridge trail, a great high-lonesome ridge walk.

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Howson Creek #1349,Sasse Mountain #1340,Little Salmon La Sac #1325 — Jun 18, 2005 — Joey
Day hike
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The Howson Creek trail is a forgotten trail in the Salmon La Sac area that gets almost no publicity...

The Howson Creek trail is a forgotten trail in the Salmon La Sac area that gets almost no publicity. In fact, it is so far off the radar screen that it does not appear on the USGS quad. A snip from the quad with my gps track is posted at

To find the trailhead, head up the Salmon La Sac road to the north end of Cle Elum Lake. Just past the campground entrance you will see a small sign on the right announcing the trailhead.

In less than a mile the trail crosses Howson Creek. I easily crossed on rocks just downstream of a log and readily found the trail again. From about 2,900' to 3,200 the trail goes through an old clearcut that has grown back. On this bit there is some low brush beginning to close in on the trail.

Above that clearcut the trail climbs steadily through a pleasant forest. The occasional opening provides fine views to the west. At about 3,600' the trail begins switch backing uphill. Do pay attention or you will find you have wandered off on a game trail.

I lost the trail at 4,400'. A forest service map I obtained from the Cle Elum Ranger district indicated the trail passed close to point 5,335' which is on a spur ridge extending west from Sasse Mtn. I scrambled up to that point but sure didn’t see any sign of a trail. The next place the USFS map indicated I might find the trail was in the saddle directly west of Sasse. I continued on the ridge crest (easy scramble but slow going) up and over the next bump and down to the saddle. Yup, there’s the trail coming in from the north side of the spur ridge. It was then a simple matter to follow the trail to its junction with the one on the ridge.

The last 100 feet or so of the Howson Creek trail is a traverse with no apparent tread and some brush. At the junction there is an ancient green and white forest service sign (don’t see many of those in the wild) that the forest is slowly swallowing. The summit of Sasse is wooded so there is little view but there are some fine logs for sitting.

Back at the saddle, my plan was to follow the trail down and hopefully find the bit I missed on the way up. Before long the trail delivered me to the edge of a large talus slope on the north side of the spur ridge. Now what? I easily hiked down along the edge of this talus field and soon encountered the relatively well used and well marked Little Salmon La Sac trail (#1325). At that point it was obvious that the Howson Creek trail crossed the talus somewhere higher up.

I hiked #1325 out to the road and then down the road a long way and then did a bit of cross country to connect up again with the Howson Creek trail. Maybe next year I’ll go back and look for the part I missed. If anyone has done this trail and has advice regarding the portion of trail I failed to locate, please contact me through my website.

I saw no one all day although I did hear 1 group of dirt bikes on the ridge trail.

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Sasse Mountain #1340,Little Salmon La Sac #1325 — Jun 22, 2004 — Type E
Day hike
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I had hoped for a summit of both Sasse Mt and Jolly Mt. I got a much later start than I would have ...

I had hoped for a summit of both Sasse Mt and Jolly Mt. I got a much later start than I would have liked so by the time I reached the trailhead it was quite warm. The road that takes you to the trailhead is quite slow but is manageable with some ground clearance. Trail 1325 is in fine shape it does get a little sketchy around the area with quite a few springs. I made the summit of Sasse in less than 30 minutes. The views are quite limited so I set off for my next goal of Jolly Mt.. I followed the Sasse ridge trail until I crossed a logging rd. I took a right on this road and walked to it's end. I was expecting there to be a trail, however after closer inspection of the map I realized that this road was the wrong one. This road was not shown on my map. I left the road and climbed to the proper road which was a few hundred feet above me. I started running a bit low on time and there was no shelter from the unbroken sun, so I stopped and had my lunch. Although I only had around 1000ft of climb left I didn't have the time to make it there and back before I wanted to be home. I backtracked and rejoined the Sasse Mt trail. I continued North until I reached the second logging road which is the proper one. With no more time I hastily returned to the truck.

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Little Salmon La Sac (#1325)
Snoqualmie Pass

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