With the return of cloudy weather to the west side today I decided to head east to hike in a bit more sun which turned out pretty well. I decided to hike up Hex Mountain as I had only done this hike in the middle of winter as a snowshoe trip. I thought it would be interesting to see it with less snow from how I remembered it and little did I know that there would be almost no snow. It is practically snow free already...even at Hex's 5,000 ft summit.
I ascended up the standard route (trail #1343) which starts at 3,500 ft elevation after about 1.5 miles of walking on an old service road from the trailhead at 2,300 ft. I then enjoyed the panoramic views of Mt Stuart, the Stuart range and Cle Elum Lake at the summit for about 45 minutes and then decided to make a loop out of the hike which seemed quite possible from studying the map. I descended the trail on the east face of Hex which is called the Sasse Mountain Trail. I followed it until about 3,700 ft where I got on an unnamed trail which looked as if it had heavy dirt bike use as it was pretty churned up. I followed this to 3,000 ft where GAIA showed a connector trail over to the service road I had come up in the morning. The trail did not exist and I easily wasted 30 to 40 minutes hunting for it with no success. The trail (had it existed) was to take me across the Newport Creek drainage and on over to my earlier trail I had ascended. Instead, I was forced to descend another few hundred feet and ultimately found service road #4305-112 which brought me near Newport Creek where I found another unnamed trail taking me across Newport Creek and finally to my ascent trail to complete the loop.
A great day with lots of practice on navigation. Including my extra scrambling around hunting for trails it was a 9.5 mile loop with a cumulative elevation gain of 2,981 ft.