Distance: 8 Miles Round Trip
Elevation gain: 3,500 Feet
A picturesque mountain hovering above the Olympic National Park’s Quinault Rainforest and Lake Quinault, Colonel Bob sits high above a horizons worth of lush, blanket like, Evergreen trees. An adventure to climb a rugged, isolated mountain in the Pacific Northwest should be done by all, and Colonel Bob Peak is the perfect mountain to climb. With stunning views, a well-maintained trail and an incredible photo opportunity, this peak above Lake Quinault near the Olympic National Park is sure to become a favorite.
Colonel Bob, named after Colonel Robert “Bob” G. Ingersoll (a fascinating Civil War veteran and political leader), is the 2nd tallest peak in the Colonel Bob Wilderness.
At 4, 592 feet above sea level, this peak allows for unrivaled views of the Olympic Peninsula. Located on the southwest side of the park, views include the Pacific Ocean, Grays Harbor, Lake Quinault and the Quinault River, the Olympic Rainforest and Mount Olympus.
With a steady 4 mile climb, the top of the mountain arrives out of nowhere, bringing pleasures to your eyes that cancel out the tiredness of your legs. The climb itself can pretty enough, but the moment you summit, the view is spectacular.
As someone who has climbed numerous mountains around the country, this view from this summit is of my favorites. Being able to look out over an endless sea of ridges and mountains is truly awe-inspiring. The peak area is wide enough to have a picnic, pose for pictures and just lay back taking in the panoramic beauty.
At just 8 miles, round trip, this climb is difficult. Saying this hike is strenuous is accurate. While some may consider this a day hike, be prepared to sweat no matter what the weather. The trail is best if broken into 4 almost equal parts (Located below), each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. At a steady pace, you can climb up in about 3 hours and descend in 2 hours.
Part 1: Pete’s Creek/Colonel Bob Parking Lot to Pete’s Creek
After arriving and hopefully using the last bathroom, the trail to climb Colonel Bob is located on the other side of the road as the bathroom. While there is a trail on this side, do not go downhill! Pete’s Creek/Colonel Bob trail is a little hard to see, but trust me, it is there. Sign in at the sign in sheet located about 1/10th of a mile from the road and head on up. This section, with 500 feet of elevation gain in 1 mile, is in trees and the trail is rocky and full of roots. Pete’s Creek isn’t labeled, but it is the mostly dry river bed located a few hundred feet passed a large washout on the trail. Enjoy this part because it is the least steep section.
Part 2: Pete’s Creek to Colonel Bob Trail
This second section is 1.4 miles long and works its way more directly up hill, with short switchbacks and over 1000 feet gained. It is highlighted with areas of tree thinning and views of the valleys behind you. The final push to the crossroads is highlighted by a steep, and depending on the season, lush slide area that you cross before you arrive. With good views finally emerging, this is a great place to rest, hydrate and cool down before the last 2 stages.
Part 3: Trail Intersection to “Julie Andrew’s Valley” (my name for it)
A rewarding section of trail starts out crossing in and out of trees, continuing the climb. While still in trees, the trail itself is a lot rockier and one needs to be careful to avoid rolling an ankle. Also, some of the steps up along the trail are steep, so use those walking sticks and poles. If you are over 6 feet tall though, this should not be a problem. After a little more than a half mile and an elevation gain of over 500ft, this section gets into the only true meadow on the mountain. Coming up around a well timbered area, you come into an area with large boulders, small mountain lakes and picturesque places to rest. I suggest taking a snack break here, drink some water and rest for a few. You don’t need to impress anyone, take care of your body.
Part 4: “Julie Andrew’s Valley” to Colonel Bob Peak
This final stretch is not a technical climb, but it can be somewhat difficult for inexperience hiker because the trail is a steep. Slow, well placed steps are all that is needed though, so no worries. In about a half mile you arrive at a saddle between a few nearby peaks. There is also a boulder filled small valley between peaks that is quite awesome. However, only take a short rest here, as the trail continues up, you finally round a corner that will take your breath away. The last few hundred feet are somewhat of a scramble, but the view makes the hard work pay off.
Colonel Bob Peak Summit
The view from the top is a full panoramic view of the Olympic Peninsula, the Pacific Ocean, Grays Harbor and more. While your legs may be burning, this is the moment that you crave, the moment that gives your hiking a purpose, the view that will give you memories through the rainy days and work. Colonel Bob Peak, while only 4,492 feet, gives you world class views only a few hours from home.
Suggested Items to bring
– Water (yes, we said it twice)
– Weather appropriate clothes
– Walking Stick or trekking poles
– Bandana or hat
– Good Shoes
– Extra socks and shoes/sandals in the car
– Some moxie and any of the other essentials you think you will need.
From Aberdeen, Washington, head north on Highway 101. About 27 miles later, take a right at Donkey Creek Road, also known as FSRD 22. The road will be paved for 8 miles until you hit an intersection. Turn left on this road and follow the well-marked signs for “Pete’s Creek.” In 11 miles, you will see a restroom and trailhead on your right. This is your stop. Remember, the trail to Colonel Bob is on the opposite side of the road as the bathroom. Do not go downhill.
As always, tell someone where you are going, or better yet, give us a call and we can take you up safely and awesomely!
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