Grays Harbor County High Point Trip Report

Date: October 2, 2001
Author: Ken Jones

Note: Access is better for this one in May through September. See the note about a locked gate in the driving directions below.

Drive: Take US Highway 12 to the Montesano exit (west of Olympia, east of Aberdeen). Head north into town, and turn left on the major east-west thoroughfare. A short way out of town (<1 mile), bear to the right (signed "Wynoochee Lake") and follow this road as it goes from paved (rural residential) to good gravel (timber company) to not-quite-so-good gravel (USFS). It is signed as FS Road 22 before it reaches federal land. You'll reach the Olympic National Forest boundary in roughly 25 - 30 miles. About 3 miles past the boundary sign, FS 22 goes left and FS 23 goes right. Continue straight on FS 2270, which goes up the east side of Wynoochee Lake. Just past the head of the lake (about 5 miles beyond the junction) you'll reach a gate. If you arrive between October 1 and April 30 you will find this gate locked, and you'll have to walk from here. In May through September, you will be able to drive further (see below).

Hike: Starting from the gate, just short of the junction marked 856 feet on the Wynoochee Lake quadrangle, walk the main road northerly. Several years ago there were a number of washouts on this next stretch, but repairs have recently been made, and the road could have been driven when I was there. Follow the road past the former Wynoochee Falls Campground (closed, and the entrance road is "ripped") to the junction at 1494 feet (about 3.5 miles). Bear right, on a lower quality road. In about 0.25 mile, you'll reach a washout at Copper Creek. This does not look likely to be repaired unless there is a new logging sale above this point. If you arrive during the open gate season, a passenger car should be able to drive to just short of this washout, reducing the round trip by roughly 7.5 miles and 800 feet of gain.

Pick your way through the washout (there is a rough trail on the left side of where the road was) and continue up the road (I didn't see the left fork just past the creek which is shown on the map). Keep left at the junction just above 3000 feet, and right at the junction in the saddle at about 3,500 feet. Just short of the end of this spur, I left the road.

Head up to the left, angling south to reach a ridge top. Then angle back east-northeast, picking your way around and between cliff bands. You should reach an open basin at just above 4000 feet, scramble up its steep headwall on the right (southerly) side and reach another open area. Here the summit area is southeast of you. Head easterly, then scramble to the ridge at a suitable point.

There are several bumps which could claim the title. Read your map carefully, and visit all the likely candidates. I found a register only on the highest bump, at 4949 feet, which is in Mason county. My best estimate was that the Grays Harbor HP is the second semi-major bump west of there, with an open summit.

The off-road section of this hike, which is only about 0.6 mile each way, is typical Pacific Northwest scrambling. It is steep in spots, and slippery if wet - which is most of the time. You could take a more direct route than I describe, but I think this is the least steep path. If you don't like snow travel, this is probably best as an August or September trip, on a dry day.

Round-trip statistics -

15 miles, 4100 feet of gain (gate closed)
7.5 miles, 3300 feet of gain (gate open)