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Mt. Catherine, Snoqualmie Pass — September 2000

An autumn hike should include the possibility of blueberry picking. Mt. Catherine offers that and more—splendid views of Mt. Rainier and relative solitude in an easy-to-reach location. Due to the elevation, wait until summer to try this hike. It will take about 1.5 hours to reach the trailhead from Seattle.

This moderate 3-mile round trip route has an elevation gain of about 1000 feet. The trail begins by heading up an abandoned roadway with Pacific silver fir, mountain ash, western and mountain hemlock, Douglas fir and western red cedar. In late season, brilliant pink fireweed and pearly everlasting are found here. There is a sign for the Mt. Catherine Trail which heads uphill to the left. Look for kinnickinnick and abundant sidebells pyrola. Rattlesnake plantain and alpine salal are also found here. You see signs of logging, but large mountain hemlock and Pacific silver fir remain. The trail switchbacks up moderately. Soon beargrass appears in the more open, sunnier spots. There are blueberries on the hillsides. In many places the ground is matted with dwarf bramble. At the top you will find large stands of white zzalea, red and white heather, and five-leaved bramble. The trail moderates as it follows a ridge with mature mountain hemlock. The summit is achieved by a short scramble. Old cables provide assistance. The rocky summit affords sweeping views in all directions (Mt. Rainier, Olympics, Cascades, Lake Keechelus). I found one whitebark pine on the summit.

To reach the trailhead, exit I-90 East at Exit 54 (Hyak). Stay on the south side of the freeway and head into the Hyak ski area parking lot. Take Hyak Drive E. past the sewage ponds and continue on Rd. 9070 (initially paved). There is a sign for Twin Lakes Trail—2 miles. In 4.4 miles from the start of Rd. 9070, you will find the Mt. Catherine trailhead on the right (Trail #1348). You?ll have to park along the road. There are no restrooms.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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