South Mountain Loop

The previous weekend I made an attempt to hike up South Mountain. This time around I was better prepared and actually drew out a track to follow on my phone's built-in GPS. I was successful this time around.

I didn't see a soul all day out there, probably due to the ambiguous signage that the logging companies have put up at the entrances to keep people out. I believe they like to keep people out during the week while they have their trucks flying in and out of there. During the weekends when they're not working, I don't see what it hurts to drive around back there. Maybe I was trespassing. I don't care if I was to be honest. I mean who really owns this land? Any land actually? What gave the first man to see a patch of property the authority to own and sell it? We all live on this Earth together and I like to walk where I see fit, hopefully not getting busted for trespassing in the process. But enough tree hugging. To be honest, I can see and embrace the other side of the story as well. We all need natural resources and the wood these timbers provide. Also, the folks that work this land need jobs and have built a living out of logging. I think my beef is that they log and destroy the beauty of places I like to go, more than the actual practice of logging itself. If the clear-cuts happened in a place I didn't have to look at, e.g., the mountainsides I visit, then I probably wouldn't care so much. You know what they say, out of sight, out of mind. With that said, South Mountain is currently being logged. Not the first time and probably not the last time either.

This hike was almost 14 miles - all on logging roads. It was a very warm day for May in Washington, 87 degrees was what my car thermometer read at the end of the hike. Since there were lots of clear cuts to walk through, it felt that much hotter with the sun beating down all afternoon. Not much more to say about the day. The pictures below will speak for themselves.

A road less traveled. I'd be seeing lots of scenes like this today.
The first clear-cut
The gate on the road up to the north peak.
Ambiguous signage. Green dot - red dot. OK, it's a red dot. Well OK I already broke one rule as the first open gate I went through today -with my car- was a red dot road. "Public access, daylight hours only, closed to motorized vehicle access". Oh but wait there is no picture of a car with a line through it, must be OK. Oh wait again, it says "trespassers will be prosecuted under RCW 9A.52.080". Hmm, I don't have my lawyer here to decipher. Must be OK since it has a picture of a hiker with no line through it and it is daylight hours. The other sign says no off-road vehicle use so I must be OK? Honestly, the signage is not very straight-forward but at this point I didn't really give a crap. Didn't drive all this way for nothing. I was going in!
A truly lovely section of the road right before...
...the next clear-cut!
Almost Mt Saint Helens-esque
It was starting to get pretty warm out. Especially without any shade.
Not only taking the timber but re-shaping the landscape as well!
Is this a new trailhead parking lot? It's doubtful.
The force was strong with this one!
Northern Aligator Lizard
Roundleaf Violet
Roundleaf Violet
The roads were in pretty good condition.
A view of the radio antennas from below
The only snow I saw all day. I filled my hat with some of this to cool down.
Not sure what this one is
South Mountain
Excellent use of the natural resources
At least the clear-cuts made for some nice views
No stopping now.
South Mountain from the ridge and the final little push to the summit.
A view to the north peak
Nahwatzel Lake
An active logging operation that was going on to the west
Another view of the north peak
Hey no problem. I've been building resistance to radio frequency fields with my cell phone for years. 😛


Summit antenna

Rollover image with mouse to see labels.

Lots of road walking.
Lots and lots of road walking
Some of the untouched, or more specifically, 'probably not in my lifetime touched' drainages were pretty.
More active clear-cutting
Raw material headed for the mill
Finally on my loop I reached the gate for the South Mountain side of the hike. Remember I started on the road heading to the north peak.
Closed to all vehicle traffic
A view looking back up at the top from along the flat stretch back to the car.
Although it was only 2.5 miles back to the car along this flat stretch, this was probably the hardest part of the hike. Not only was it flat, it was also hot with almost no shade. Upon returning to the car I confirmed it was hot, about 87 according to my car's thermometer.
Ahh, a sight for sore legs!
Panorama from logging road up to the north peak of South Mountain
North peak of South Mountain panorama
Vertical Panorama of the top of South Mountain


360 degree video panorama made from stills from the top of South Mountain

Use maps at your own risk. Maps for research purposes only.

Use maps at your own risk. Maps for research purposes only.

Disclaimer: I do not endorse hiking this area when gated or otherwise signed as closed. I did so at my own peril and risked having my car towed away or receiving a fine for trespassing. Hike at your own risk.

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