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John Guilford's Hikes

Kelley Creek, Scorpion Mtn on 2005-08-05

Date: 2005-08-05

Location: Kelley Creek, Scorpion Mtn

People: (including myself): Joe Tarantino, Jay Wardle

			Alt.	Miles
Start:		9:50	3000	0
End of ex-Road:	10:15	3080	1
Ravine:		10:45	4580	2-1/4
First Meadow:	12:15	5280	3
Lunch:		1:00
Johnson Ridge:	1:55	5300	4-1/4
Scorpion Mtn:	2:05	5540	4-1/2
Lunch Spot:	3:00
First Meadow:	3:35
Ravine:		4:35
Ex-road:	5:00
Out:		5:25		9

Take US2 east towards Snoqualmie Pass.  Exactly opposite milepost 55 turn north onto the Old Cascade Hwy.  In 2.2 miles turn left onto Martin Creek Rd.  In 1.5 miles you should pass the Iron Goat trail.  In another 1.6 miles veer left.  About another half mile later, the road crosses Martin Creek.  In a short distance the road turns right and upward.  At the bend find a one car wide pullout and park there.  When we went, there was an piece of orange tape marking the spot. 

For another good reference to this hike (this is the one we used), see this report:

If you crave solitude, this may be the hike for you.  The Kelley Creek trail is a semi-abandoned trail that sees little use, though there is some amount of unofficial maintenance done (there were quite a few rather new looking pieces of orange tape to mark the trail).  The trail is overgrown and at times offers challenges to route finding.  There were times when our modus operandi was to follow disturbed vegetation.  Entering and leaving the meadows on the ridge is a particularly easy time to lose the trail.  Unexpected switchbacks can also leave you going in the wrong direction.  This is not a hike for novices.  If you are going along and it seems like you've lost the trail, be prepared to back track to the last place you knew you were on the trail and then figure out where the trail really went. 

Without good directions, the trailhead can be hard to find as it isn't very obvious.  See "Approach" above. 

[ PIX7 ] For the first mile or so, the trail is pretty level.  It used to be a road, but it is heavily overgrown in places.  At about 3/4 mile, the old (ex-) road ended (I think) and the way continues westward another 1/4 mile.  There one finds a tree with a couple of signs indicating the road and the trail.  The trail turns northward here and begins a long, climbing traverse of the hillside above Kelley Creek.  The day was warm and the air was still, which made for a sweaty hike.  Soon the trail gets into wetter terrain with Devil's Club growing in profusion. 

[ PIX6 ] Flies were out in force.  They weren't biting much, but they were annoying, particularly when you stopped for any length of time.  We stopped and put on insect repellant, something I haven't had to do in the Cascades for quite a few years.  I was glad to be wearing longs pants as the flies would have been more annoying in shorts (as Jay and Joe were wearing).  A bit beyond half way up the traverse, you come across a little steep sided ravine that must be crossed.  Towards the end of the traverse, you hit a number of switchbacks as the trail gains altitude and approaches the top of the ridge and the beginning of the intermittent meadows.  Some of the switchback turns were marked by two pieces of orange tape.  Look for these turns.  On the way up they seemed (to us) to be pretty obvious, but on the way down we missed at least one turn, lost the trail, and had to back track to find it. 

[ PIX9 ] When you hit the first meadow, the correct route is to descend into the meadow (beside a clump of trees) and then turn leftward and enter the forest there.  We missed the barely visible orange tag and instead went straight through the meadow, turning left at the far end, continuing up another meadow before re-entering the trees and eventually coming upon the trail.  Along the ridge top, the trail can be identified by old blazes chopped into trees along the way, as well as occasional orange tapes. 

[ PIX2 ] The trail heads north passing through intermingled meadow and forest.  Typically, we'd lose the trail going through the meadow and have to refind it on the far side.  Sometimes this would involve spreading out and higher and lower on the hillside until someone found a recognizable trail. 

After a twenty minute lunch break on a shady log, we continued up the ridge.  [ PIX3 ] About fifteen minutes before our stated turn-around time of 2:00, Jay decided to hang out in a meadow while Joe and I continued on.  The trail continued up a steeper hillside that left me wondering why I hadn't waited with Jay.  However, we soon reached the top of the hill and entered yet another meadow.  We finally got high enough that we could start seeing views of the Cascades, including Mt. Rainier directly behind us to the south. 

[ PIX4 ] At the far end of the meadow we encountered the Johnson Ridge trail (which looked like a superhighway compared to what we'd just hiked) just before it drops off the ridge down to Joan Lake (about 200 ft below us).  [ PIX8 ] Even though we were at our official turn around time, we could see Scorpion Mountain easily attainable above us and decided to make a quick trip up to the summit. [ PIX5 ] On the more open Johnson Ridge we got a slight breeze that helped to cool things off a bit, though we lost the breeze when we left the ridge.  From the summit we did get some good views of the surrounding mountains including Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, and the peaks of the Monte Cristo area. 

Back at the meadow we met back up with Jay and continued back down the ridge.  The trail back seemed easier to find than on the hike up, possibly because we had just traversed it going the other way, though we did lose the trail occasionally and twice or thrice had to backtrack to re-find the trail.  The down hill direction on the trail went faster and wasn't as sweaty as the hike up had been.  Still one had to watch one's footing as much of the trail was covered in plants and on the traverse above Kelley creek much of the trail sloped down hill.


[ PIX7 ] Signs marking transition from ex-road to trail. 

[ PIX6 ] Steep sided ravine. 

[ PIX9 ] Panorama of first meadow.  Path leads to right of center clump of trees and then turns left to re-enter the forest. 

[ PIX2 ] Example meadow along ridge, Jay (l) and Joe (r). 

[ PIX3 ] Joe silhouetted against sky before final meadow before Johnson Ridge Trail. 

[ PIX4 ] Joan Lake from Johnson Ridge Trail. 

[ PIX8 ] Scorpion Mountain from Johnson Ridge Trail. 

[ PIX5 ] John on Scorpion Mountain. 

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015