The multi-user, somewhat eroded, Yellow Hill trail provides access to Yellow Hill and its views to the south. The 2017 Jolly Mountain Fire changed this from a shaded hike to a hot climb through a stark silver and black forest with a stunning understory of flowers. Spring is the best time for flowers, views, and stillness. Avoid mid/late summer with the oppressive heat & motorcycles and be sure to wear orange in the fall with hunters.
There are very few trail signs, so be sure of your navigation.
From the trailhead, elevation 2810 feet, start north over or around the tank traps, then follow the road for 0.1 mile to an unmarked road junction. Go left and follow the road for 0.8 mile to an unmarked trail on the right, elevation 3390 feet. Take the trail for a steep 0.2 mile to stretch out your Achilles tendons in preparation for what’s to come. Alternatively, continue on the road for 0.3 mile to the top of the steep trail section.
From the top of the steep trail, elevation 3590 feet, go north on the road for 0.1 mile to a marked trail on the right. Take the trail for a steep 0.4 mile to an unmarked junction, elevation 4140 feet. Alternatively, follow the road for 0.3 mile, then a motorcycle trail for 0.2 mile to the unmarked junction.
Continue northwest on the trail for 0.2 mile to a good rest stop, elevation 4400 feet, with views of Mount Rainier and the Kittitas Valley Wind Farm. After this point, the trail is much easier to follow.
The trail stays near the ridge crest for 0.6 mile, descending slightly, to a stream crossing, elevation 4370 feet, the only semi-reliable water for spring and early summer trips. After the stream, the trail alternates steep climbs and level sections for 0.9 mile as it climbs to reach an open area, elevation 5150 feet, to the east of Yellow Hill.
From here, there are two ways to the top of Yellow Hill. One is a careful cross-country climb to the west northwest, reaching a rocky bump with the best views. The top is about 60 yards northwest of the bump.
The second, easier in spring, way to the top is to follow the trail for 0.4 mile around to the north side of Yellow Hill for a good view of Mount Stuart. Go back west on the trail 0.1 mile and turn directly uphill, hopefully on snow to keep down the brush. Continue cross-country uphill in a southerly direction to reach the top, where you break out of the forest. The edge of the forest can have a myriad of glacier lilies in the spring.
The views include the West Fork Teanaway Valley to the south, Kittitas Wind Farm in the distance to the southeast, and Mount Rainier to the southwest.