Snowshoe to Hex Mountain
Washington › Salmon la Sac Rd., FR 116
Added by Gemina Garland-Lewis
A quintessential Cascades snowshoe adventure with expansive 360 degree views from the summit. If you're looking for a longer outing with more of a work out than some of the area's other popular snowshoe tracks, this is the trail for you.
In winter the trail up Hex Mountain is extended, covering an additional 3.4 miles total to walk the road (FR 116) that leads to the summer parking area at the trailhead itself. From the junction of FR 116 and Salmon la Sac Rd., begin your snowshoe up FR 116 and you'll soon pass a yellow road gate (though, snowpack depending, it may be mostly buried).
The first 1.7 miles on the forest service road to the Hex Mt. trailhead will take you uphill and in an overall northeasterly direction. There are a number of shorter roads that offshoot from FR 116 during the first mile and your route will not be marked well during this section. If you're heading out right after a fresh snow and breaking trail there may be some trial and error involved in this section if you haven't hiked it before (most of the offshoot roads are short so if the road ends or you end up too far off the northeast track you can turn around). If there hasn't been fresh snow, however, it is quite easy to just follow the path most traveled/packed down and be on the right track.
After the first mile the road narrows and the offshoots disappear, leading you just to climb and start getting views of Cle Elum Lake and the surrounding mountains. At 1.7 miles you'll see a sign on the right hand side of the trail marking the Hex Mountain trailhead (#1343). Turn up to your right here and follow tracks up the narrow trail as it ascends a ridge crest. Most of your climb will be through the forest, which makes this an inherently lower-risk trail for avalanche danger than other snowshoe outings in WA. Peek-a-boo views of the mountains decorate the path as you ascend before opening up for a short while. Watch for wildlife along the way!
If you turn your head around from time to time you'll notice the cap of Mt. Rainier starting to show her face. The trail continues to climb steeply through the forest, with the final section being fairly closed in. At 3.3. miles from the start you'll hit the junction with the Sasse Ridge trail off to your left. Stick to the right and after another short climb through the trees you'll see the snowy summit ahead. One last push and you've arrived! On a clear day, you'll have panorama views of Rainier, the Stuart Range, and the Teanaways.
Some people choose to walk the ridge between the false summit and the true summit, but this does pose some avalanche danger so if you explore this route be sure you've checked the avalanche forecast and have some knowledge of avalanche evaluation. For those happy to stay put, enjoy some lunch along with your summit views before heading back down the way you came! Stop off at the Roslyn Cafe on your way back for a tasty meal before heading home.
Getting there: Take Exit 80 off I90 towards Roslyn. Drive through Roslyn and Ronald on 903. When you see the Ronald Fire Station start looking for parking pullouts - there is generally a plowed area on the left side of the road signed "Single Vehicles Only". From here, walk north on Salmon la Sac Rd. past Timber Cove Rd. on your left and cross Newport Creek, FR 116 will be the next road you see on the right.
- Microspikes if well-packed snow
- Hiking poles with snow baskets
- Extra layers for the summit
- Wind/rain protection
- Waterproof boots
- Lots of water
- Snacks/lunch for summit
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Gorgeous Sun and Snow
We parked the trucked at the pull off across from the fire station and made our way down to the road. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was shining making the decently steep ascent a rather warm one. We got to the summit in a little under an hour and a half and enjoyed great views of the surrounding mountains, including Mt. Stuart. Be prepared with traction and snowshoes after new snowfall! Have fun!
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