Kitsap County High Point Trip Report

Gold Mountain (1,761 ft)

Date: October 21, 2001
Author: Jeff Howbert

The day worked out well, in spite of the spitting drizzle, abrupt dumps of cold water from wind-shaken trees, and unremitting fog. During four hours of brisk exercise we enjoyed the deep second-growth forest, debated the identity of lots of peculiar plants, swapped stories on weird family members, and got into some real detective work to find the true high point.

Bill Jacobs's trip report from August 1, 2001 was invaluable for solving the serious watershed access problem for this summit. His directions for getting to the key gate on the southwest side of the mountain are perfect (except it's Union River you cross, not Union Creek). Once onto Minnard Road, bear left at the only non-residential junction. There are signs prohibiting entry into the Bremerton watershed almost continuously off the right side of the road, but none on the road itself or the gate. As Bill suggests, the road does not appear on the USGS quad. (This quad, USGS Wildcat Lake, originally published in 1953, has a purple overlay of features added in a 1968 photorevision.) I estimate the gate is located at about the midpoint of the Section 33-34 boundary.

Proceed due north from the gate (circa 680 feet) and quickly find yourself on the road which shows on the map as a dashed double black line. Per Bill's report, stay on the obvious main road, ignoring numerous newer logging spurs (all gated or closed with steel cables) as you wind generally north through Sections 28 and 33. Shortly before the ridge crest (below the "D" in "Gold Mountain"), a gated spur appears on the left, with signs identifying it as the property of a broadcast company, and asking people not to visit the operator while on duty. Bear right and slightly downhill, then climb again to a saddle and pass over to the N side of the crest. The road now rambles east, with lots of minor ups and downs. Go right at the next fork (open gates both ways), then bypass a spur to a communication facility on the right.

For the endgame, it doesn't hurt to have a compass to stay oriented. After passing around the northeast side of the summit area, the road takes a sharp bend to the right and heads due west and steeply uphill (right above the "N" in "Gold Mountain"). There are three communication facilities altogether in the next 1/4 mile. The first is north of the road at the end of a recently graveled spur, on top of the 1700+ foot contour just right of the "t" in "Lookout". The second is also north of the road, at the end of another spur on top of the eastern 1740+ foot contour. The third facility is reached by following the main road to the bitter end on top of the western 1740+ contour. (By the way, the purple road that heads east from the summit area does not, as shown on the map, join the main road at the bend above the "N"; it comes in opposite the spur to the first facility.)

None of these areas quite match what the map suggests for the 1761 foot highest point, a steep-sided 40 - 50 foot high knob, with either the remains of a lookout and/or a benchmark. Careful backtracking reveals the final option, an old overgrown road, beginning at the junction with the second spur, and running west parallel to the main road on the north side. Follow this around 150 yards to its end, where part of an old foundation and some bricks are visible, possibly the remains of the building shown at road's end on the map. Then turn sharply right and take a well-grooved footpath a few dozen yards to the top of a bald knob. It has none of the usual artifacts of a former lookout, just two very weathered old stumps, but a benchmark, dated 1954 and labelled "Gold Hill", is set in the rock in plain view.

Because of the fog, it was impossible to see the surrounding communications towers and even guess whether the knob was higher. However, my altimeter consistently read 10 - 20 ft higher at the knob than at either of the two flanking tower sites. Combining all the evidence from the map and the field, I am convinced the benchmark sits atop the highest point shown on the map.

2 hours up, 1-1/2 hours down, 8 miles round-trip, 1300 vertical feet of gain (with ups and downs).