February 7, 2011
Location: Central Cascades (Cle Elum/Roslyn)
Length: 7 miles
Recommended Hiking Time: 6 hours
Rating: Moderately Difficult
On a clear day this is probably one of the best snowshoe trips in the area and since it is right off a paved highway, it is fairly easy to reach. Even with moderate clouds the views of Cle Elum Lake, the Kachess Ridge, and the surrounding valleys are still pretty amazing. The path mostly follows a snow covered, logging road so the trail is wide and fairly gradual. Along the way you’ll enjoy the tree covered hillside and might even spot a few deer or fox tracks or get really lucky and see an owl or marten.
The only annoyance about this trail is that since some of the land in the area is for sale, there are numerous spur roads and driveways leading off the main road. While the main road constantly ascends in a northeastern direction, it can be confusing and I definitely got turned around a few times. Try not to get discouraged as the best parts are at the top. The idea is to continue a little under 2 miles up the logging road to the large, flat summer parking lot and find the trailhead from there. The trouble with snowshoeing in general is that it’s difficult to know where the trail is unless the area gets heavy traffic and you can follow some one’s tracks. Even when there are tracks they can sometimes lead you astray, which happened to us a few times.
In the end, I don’t think we really reached the true summit of Hex Mountain where you can see views to both the East and West, but we made it most of the way up and still enjoyed our day. The views were great despite the fact that the weather couldn’t make up its mind and would be mostly clear and sunny one minute than get cloudier and darker the next. After a lunch break on my emergency blanket overlooking the lake, we followed our tracks back down and, with gravity and a better sense of direction on our side, made the descent pretty quickly.
To get here take I-90 to exit 80 and follow the Bullfrog Cutoff Road (Highway 903) for several miles passed Roslyn and Ronald to the parking pull off near Newport Creek. From here hike up the highway a short distance to the logging road (there are two, but I recommend taking the first one, which to me was slightly more direct).