Jul 14, 2012
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Tatoosh Ridge
- Region: South Cascades
- Agency: Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District
- Trails: Tatoosh (#161)
- Avg Rating: 3.50
- Why You Should Go Now
- Wildflowers blooming
- Be Aware Of
- Snow on trail
After a few minutes of hiking, you enter the Tatoosh Wilderness. The trail starts climbing immediately and does not let up until the Tatoosh Lake junction, 2600 feet gain in the first 2.7 miles. Around 4700 feet, the forest starts to thin out as you enter the meadows. The trail is snow free to 5200 feet, a short distance before the junction to Tatoosh Lakes.
After the Tatoosh Lake junction, the trail is about 50% snow covered. The trail heads south through the meadows with Glacier Lilies covering the slopes. Rounding the ridge south of point 6050, the snow covered trail presents several obstacles. The first is getting off the huge snow bank as you round the ridge. Heading left, the snow bank eventually narrows to a manageable short steep descent to bare ground. This left me about a 100+ feet above the actual trail. I angled down the meadow and re-joined the trail just as it enters another large snowfield.
Looking at the route ahead, a couple snow filled gullies looked like they might be impassable, prematurely ending the hike. I continued on to get a closer look at the first large gully. Where the trail hit the snow, it was too steep to cross. Following the bare ground upward about 75 feet, the slope moderated and was able to cross the gully and rejoin the trail. About 1/3 mile later, I arrived at the other interesting looking gully, which looked much worse from a distance, but was actually not too steep. Crossing these two gullies required kicking steps in the snow and a hiker needs to be comfortable crossing steep snowfields.
Rounding the ridge, I could see the trail traversed another large, steep snowfield. It was probably about 1.5 to 2 miles to Tatoosh Peak staying on the trail. My GPS indicated the peak was only about .4 miles away. I left the trail and headed up the mostly snow covered slopes to gain the last 600 feet to the summit. The summit has great views, but the Goat Rock, Mt. Adams and Mt. Ste. Helens were obscured by haze.
Trip Stats: 9 miles with 3950 feet elevation gain (3700 feet in, 250 feet out)