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Rooster Mountain - Quartz Creek Trail #1263

Our Hiking Time: 5h
Total Ascent: 2800ft
Highest Point: 4000ft
Total Distance: 9 miles
Location: N 47° 34.8060, W 121° 32.8200
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

Nathan's PhotoFor months, we have talked about tackling Rooster Mountain, a sizable peak in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley that would yield some new and interesting views of the surrounding landscape. Always just over the horizon, it often came up as a possible hike, but we wanted to wait for the snow to fully retreat and a nice sunny day to attempt it. The stars aligned this last week and we packed up and headed back to the Snoqualmie Lake trailhead and Rooster Mountain.

Technically, Rooster Mountain is the unofficial name for a 5,339’ prominence between the Quartz Creek Valley and Marten Lake. There is nothing particularly Rooster-esque about the mountain, instead it seems to have fallen victim of an animal naming craze that swept the area at some point. Nearby Goat Mountain and Dog Mountain must have been christened by the same barnyard animal lover. Each of these three peaks extends a ridgeline down to a central point between Mowitch, Marten, and Cougar Lakes. While some resources refer to Rooster Mountain as “The Ark,” the unnamed central point between Rooster, Goat and Dog Mountain seems a more apt place to point out the abundance of animal-themed topography.

The trail begins at the Snoqualmie Lake trailhead, following #1002 to for about a half-a-mile to the Quartz Creek junction. Take the eroding and extremely rocky logging road up past occasional views of the steep-sided Quartz Creek Valley to an unsigned spur road at the two-mile mark. This junction is large and impossible to miss. Continuing on the road will take you to Blethlen Lakes, choosing the rougher, steeper spur will take you toward to Rooster Mountain. The former road to Rooster Mountain becomes progressively more trail-like as trees and underbrush close in and narrow the path. After another two miles and three large switchback the trail forks once again. The path to the left is the now-overgrown and largely inaccessible trail to Rooster Mountain summit, while the path to the right leads to the road’s end and a nice little viewpoint. Sadly, like others before us, we were forced to settle for the viewpoint.

This hike was a good reminder of what hikingwithmybrother.com is all about. Guidebooks are an excellent resource, but all too often they are woefully out of date, and it falls to the hikers on the ground to publish updates on the condition of any given hike. Despite being a guidebook favorite, cropping up in several different publications, there is no trail to the summit of Rooster Mountain. The old bootpath has been largely reclaimed by the forest. Of course, you can still bushwhack your way to the top, or snow could provide an easy path over the blocking vegetation. But, if you’re expecting a trail, your hopes will be dashed roughly three-quarters of the way to the top.

On the upside, the 4,000’ viewpoint isn’t bad. It sports an impressive, if somewhat limited, view of the valleys below, including Bessemer Mountain, Russian Butte, Mount Garfield – as well as Rooster’s elusive summit. And, if isolation is what you’re looking for, Rooster Mountain is a great option: very few hikers attempt this trail. On the other hand, reaching our stopping point is a significant amount of effort that might be better spent climbing to other heights. If you are training for a bigger climb, or have the time to hack your way to the top, give Rooster Mountain a try. Otherwise, we recommend skipping this one for greener pastures.

To get there, take Exit 34 off I-90 and take a left on 468th Ave. Follow the road past the truck stop for about a half-mile until you reach SE Middle Fork Road, also known as Forest Road 56. Continue to follow the twists in the road until the pavement runs out. Continue on FR 56 for 12 miles, crossing the Taylor River. Once across, keep to the left for another quarter mile to the end of the road and the trailhead. -Nathan

Rooster Mountain


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