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Guye Peak - Cave Ridge Trail

Our Hiking Time: 3h 20m
Total Ascent: 2000ft
Highest Point: 5168ft
Total Distance: 2.5miles
Location: N 47° 26.5740, W 121° 24.5460
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Difficulty: Hard

Nathan's PhotoAfter some time off, we decided we wanted a hike to shake out some of the cobwebs and get back into our hiking routine. Ever since we passed under it on our way to Kendall Katwalk, we’d been wanting to tackle Guye Peak. It only took a little bit of sunshine breaking through the overcast morning to send us out to Snoqualmie Pass to check it out.

guye peak hikingwithmybrotherTentatively named Slate Mountain for a time, Guye Peak was eventually named for F.M. Guye, who staked out a number of mining claims on both Guye Peak and Snoqualmie Mountain. Many of the rough paths the crisscross the mountains above Alpental have their origins in the mining activities of the late 1800s.

It’s something of an exaggeration to call the Cave Ridge Trail to the top of Guye Peak a “trail,” as it is more of a series of scrambles over boulders and fallen trees connected by short, boot-pounded paths though narrow bands of vegetation. Short and rough, the route aggressively attacks the elevation, conveying you up the slope with only an occasional begrudging switchback or two. At just over mile, things begin to level out and the trail passes by a seasonal pond before beginning the final push to the top.

Be aware that decades of use have resulted in many lesser-used side trails that can be confusing. guye peak hikingwithmybrotherWhile there is one sign directing you either to Snoqualmie Mountain or Guye Peak, the trail is unsigned. Dramatic overhangs and big drop-offs make this a popular hike with both hikers and mountaineers year-round. The short trail distance and close proximity to I-90 mean easy access, but can also lend an illusion of relative safety. Use caution near the top, as slick conditions can easily lead to a tumble or worse – quite a number of people have died on Guye Peak since the 1960’s.

Short and brutal, Guye Peak pays dividends in spectacular views. Survey the ski slopes of Alpental and Snoqualmie Pass as well as the whole of Commonwealth Basin. To the west lies Denny Mountain, supporting the slopes of Alpentalguye peak hikingwithmybrother and beginning a north running ridgeline that includes the Tooth, Bryant Peak and Chair Peak. Snoqualmie Mountain dominates the view to the north, while the Red Mountain steals the show as you swing east to take in Kendall Peak.

To get there, take I-90 to exit 52. From the exit, take a left onto Alpental Road for about two miles to a large gravel parking lot. The unmarked trailhead is across the road to the left. - Nathan

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Guye Peak

Pacific Northwest Wildflowers II

Nathan's Photo
As the summer ends and autumn begins, we say goodbye to the last of the wildflowers for the year. We wanted to put together a quick post of the last spots of color we found on our hikes this summer before the greenery gives way to snow. Already we're looking forward to getting out at a little earlier to capture some early spring flowers. Hope you enjoy.

Western Monkshood (Aconitum columbianum)

We found some Monkshood lining the trail on our hike up to to Kendall Katwalk and Peak. One of over 250 species of Acontium, it is also known as wolfsbane, aconite and Devil's helmet. Both intriguing and highly toxic, monkshood has been used in poisons and medicines for hundreds of years.

Pink Mountain-Heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis)

Almost 30 years later, the area around Mt. St. Helens is still something of an ashen wasteland. As we picked our way though the Worm Flows on our way to the top, we spied a welcome dollop of color near Chocolate Falls.

Alpine White Marsh-Marigold (Caltha leptosepala ssp. leptosepala var. leptosepala)

With a few patches of snow still on the ground, we noticed these little guys thriving in the newly-denuded of Snoqualime Pass Ski slopes on our way to Lodge and Beaver Lakes.

Scotch Bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

We caught this delicate Scotch Bluebell defiantly clinging amongst the blasted rock along Kendall Katwalk. Usually confined to the meadows it was fun to find a patch of powder-blue amongst the granite.

Davidson's Penstemon (Penstemon davidsonii)

While scrambling up to the very top of McClellan Butte, we caught sight of this unusual flower. Also known as "beard-tongue" all members of the Penstemon genus have hairy stamens, giving them the appearance of having bearded tongues.

Mount Gardner

Our Hiking Time: 5h
Total Ascent: 2200ft
Highest Point: 4413ft
Total Distance: 12.5 miles
Location: N 47° 22.0680, W 121° 34.1700
Required Permit: None
Difficulty: Moderate

Nathan's Photo
We’ve been avoiding Mt. Gardner for months. Each week as we thumbed through our hiking guide we’d quickly flip past it, opting instead for more appealing destinations. This week, the fates aligned such that we cracked open the page for Mt. Gardner and headed out to face our fears.

The route follows Forest Road 9020 as it slowly meanders its way up the side of Mt. Gardner to the end of the road a half-mile from the summit. From road’s end, a rough bootpath will guide you to the top. Although an easy hike is cheerfully outlined in guidebooks such as Day Hiking Snoqualmie Region: Cascade Foothills/I-90 Corridor/Alpine Lakes and 55 Hikes around Snoqualmie Pass, access has changed significantly, making it much longer and more of a slog than these publications suggest.

mount gardner hikingwithmybrotherIn late 2007, in an attempt to better focus limited resources, the administrators of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest decommissioned parts of FR 9020. This resulted in a semi-permanent roadblock just beyond the point that 9020 intersects with the McClellan Butte Trail – 3.5 miles shy of the starting point noted in many guidebooks. Beyond the roadblock, FR 9020 is no longer maintained and is washed out at both Alice Creek and Harris Creek. Alders and brush have already completely overgrown the trail, which is littered with blowdowns and debris. Clearly, the original roadwork was done with an eye toward expedience, as it evidently destabilized large sections of the slope, which has now slid – trees and all – into the road.

mount gardner hikingwithmybrotherAs you gain elevation, respite from the tangled jungle of toppled trees and undergrowth is found in large talus fields that give increasingly long views of the Snoqualmie Valley. However, the proximity to the interstate translates into a startling amount of road noise. The views do not get much better beyond the talus fields, though there are some new vantage points.

We did not make it to the top – we turned back in frustration after admitting defeat in our protracted uphill battle against the trail. Rather than hack and slash our way back through the quagmire, we instead opted for the talus field taking us straight down the mountain to the much more hospitable Iron Horse Trail.

mount gardner hikingwithmybrotherWe highly recommend you avoid this hike. Even when the road was in better shape, it was still a walk up an old Weyerhaeuser logging track, complete with recovering clear cuts, rotting stumps, and the inevitable flotsam and jetsam of 4x4 accessible backroads: shotgun shells and the sad, rusting remains of executed appliances.

If you really want to go there, take I-90 to Exit 38, then take a right and head past Olallie State Park and the access to Deception Crags for about two miles to reach FR 9020. Follow the progressively rougher logging road to the roadblock at 4.5 miles. Park and begin the trudge to the top. Or do an about-face and head up to McClellan instead – it’s a much better hike. - Nathan

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Mount Gardner
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