Located directly above Lake Cushman and within a stones throw from the Olympic National Park’s Staircase Entrance, Mount Rose sits atop a burned forest, exposing her craggy summit for the world to see. Mount Rose isn’t the prettiest of mountains. In fact, she is often overlooked by tourists, hikers and climbers for more glamorous peaks located nearby. Being so close to Mount Ellinor and Mount Washington, Mount Rose is more of the middle child. Challenging, rewarding and serene, this peak nestled in the Southeast corner of the Olympic Mountain Range begs for your attention and love.
If you are looking for sweeping vistas and a look into the interior of the Olympic Mountains, this is not the hike for you. Yes, Mount Rose offers unique views of Mount Ellinor, Mount Washington, Copper Mountain and on a clear day Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens, but it is not a knockout, as describe by the Washington Trails Association. This mountain is pretty, but not stunning. Despite not being a huge peak, Mount Rose is underrated. The personality of the trail and the summit make it all worth it, enough so that I refer to this as the Sandra Bullock of Mountains. The views may not Blind Side you, but are far from a waste of time, unlike Speed 2.
At a round trip distance of 6.3 miles long and over 3,334 feet of elevation gained, Mount Rose is sure to get your legs a little sore. This not for first time hikers and depending on the snow pack, you may need a GPS or route finding skills to find the trail. The mountain should be snow free from around June to October, with August and September being the best time to climb.
The trail itself starts out innocent enough, crossing over two new bridges next to pretty, cascading, waterfalls. Enjoy this view, because after about 1/8th of a mile, the switchbacks start. The switchbacks on this trail are some of my favorite. While some are quite steep, they are short, allowing for a faster climb and a greater sense of accomplishment. Once you are on the switchback section of the trail, the climbing starts and the views of the mountains and Lake Cushman all but vanish. There are areas to stand on a few rocks and take in a glance, but the true reward is the view along the ridge line and summit up the mountain.
At about 1.6 miles up you will hear the rushing sound of a waterfall to your left. Find the route, which looks like a well used animal trail and explore this area. It is a perfect place to get hydrated, have a snack and take a rest. The waterfall is gorgeous when the snow is melting, with different types of runoff occurring from you where you can stand to about a hundred feet above you. Sadly, on the day I went to take these pictures, the waterfall, combined with the snowfall made it treacherous to climb up for amazing pictures. I will update this when I can.
After the detour for the waterfall, you are faced with a decision. At the 1.8 mile mark, the trail splits, with a path going to the right and to the left. Both lead to the summit, but choose wisely. The path to the left is shorter, at only 1.1 miles. However, it is a steep climb with only a few quick views to take your mind off the burning legs and elevation gain. The path to the right is also steep, but offers better views and more of a ridge-line hike. I suggest taking the right side. Near the summit the trail gets a bit difficult and requires some scrambling, but you already made it this far!
Once you make it to the summit, take a look around, spot the regions peaks and rivers and take it all in. Thanks to numerous fires, the view from the top is mostly open and is a great place to have lunch. Sit on the rocks, take in the view and know you just climbed a beast of a mountain. On your return trip, finish the loop and head back down to Lake Cushman. The bridges over the waterfalls at the trailhead will look much more impressive. Your legs might hurt for a bit, you might be tired, but you just climbed a mountain that will love you unconditionally. In all seasons, Mount Rose is there for you, begging to be climbed. She might wear you out, but every Rose has a thorn.
Type of Trees on the Trail:
- Western Hemlock,
- Douglas Fir,
- Pacific Silver Fir,
- Vine Leaf Maple,
- Western Red Cedar,
- Alaska Cedar
- Sub-Alpine Fir.
Visible from the Summit:
- Mount Ellinor,
- Mount Pershing,
- Copper Mountain,
- Six Ridge,
- Wonder Mountain,
- Capital Peak
- Lightning Peak,
- South face of Mount Lincoln
- North Fork of the Skokomish Valley
- Lake Cushman
- Mount Rainier
- Mount Adams
- Mount Saint Helens
- Hood Canal
Distance- 6.3 miles
Elevation Gain- 3,334 ft
Seasons– All, but when snow is present, GPS and/or Route FInding Skills Needed
Child Friendly– Maybe, if your kid is a good sport
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