Alpine Baldy is a mountain located in the southeastern region of Wild Sky Wilderness of Washington. Despite overlooking the Highway 2 corridor, Alpine Baldy is largely unexplored by many mountaineers because of the lack of views from its forested summit. However, Alpine Baldy is quite often summited as a part of a larger trip including more popular hiking destinations, such as to/from Beckler Peak or to/from Mount Fernow. Although the outward views from the true summit are non-existent due to thick forest, views from the mountain's western false summit area and connecting ridgelines can be quite spectacular.
The summit of Alpine Baldy is neither "alpine" nor "bald". The summit is congested by thick second-growth forest. Alpine Baldy actually gets its name from the large sub-alpine meadow that comprises most of its upper south-facing slopes, which are the peak's most notable aspect from afar. During months of snow-cover the south-facing meadow slopes have high avalanche dangers associated with them. During months of snow-cover, summiters tend to ascend the peak from the saddle connecting the mountain to Beckler Peak to the west, or via the mountain's southeast ridge.
Summit attempts are non-technical during snow-free periods. However, during periods of snow-cover, technical climbing gear such as an ice axe and crampons (or microspikes) might be required to traverse steep snowy and icy slopes. Use extra caution during periods of snow-cover, as the thick forests tend to keep many snow patches and snowy slopes shaded from sunlight for long durations, causing those areas to become quite icy and potentially dangerous to traverse. Use good judgment.
Getting ThereThe standard routes for this summit, including driving directions, hiking directions, and parking areas, have changed multiple times during the years following the creation of Wild Sky Wilderness. The following directions have been updated, but if any other changes/revisions occur please notify the page administrator.
From Skykomish, WA:
1) Drive east along Highway 2 for 3.1 miles.
2) Turn left onto FS-6066.
3) After 1.8 miles, the road splits. Take the right fork (uphill) to continue on Forest Road 6066.
4) Follow to the end of the road (6.7 miles total from Highway 2). This is the "Jennifer Dunn Trailhead" (~2700' elevation) for the Beckler Peak Trail.
1) Begin hiking along the decommissioned sections of FS-6066, heading east.
2) Follow the overgrown logging road for 1.6 miles to a trail junction (~3600' elevation).
3) Turn onto the trail, and follow the trail as it angles uphill towards the saddle connecting Beckler Peak and Alpine Baldy. From near the saddle, the trail continues west towards Beckler Peak. Instead, leave the trail and begin heading east towards Alpine Baldy.
4) An old fisherman's trail might be encountered near the saddle, that leads from Beckler Peak to Alpine Baldy. If the old trail is encountered, head east along it. Otherwise, when nearing the ridgetop, head directly to the saddle (~3900' elevation) that connects Beckler Peak to Alpine Baldy. Then steeply ascend east up the western slopes of Alpine Baldy, passing a false summit (~5150' elevation), until finally reaching the forested true summit (~5200' elevation) at the eastern end of the ridgetop.
5) When returning back to the parking area from the summit of Alpine Baldy, head to the western end of the ridgetop. From there, one option is to steeply descend down the western slopes of the mountain and backtrack the ascent route back to the parking area. Another option is to descend due south through thick forest until reaching a decommissioned forest road (FS-6066) at ~3800' elevation, then following that overgrown road east and then west back to the parking area.
ROUNDTRIP HIKING DISTANCE: Approximately 8-10 miles, depending on variation.
ROUNDTRIP HIKING TIME: Most hikers typically take 4-6 hours, roundtrip, if only going to the summit of Alpine Baldy and no other peaks.
Red TapeDuring periods of snow-cover on the mountain, there are two major areas of concern and caution to note. First, the large south-facing open meadow area is one gigantic avalanche-prone slope. Second, the west slopes and areas of thick forest-cover below the ridgetop commonly have very slick icy terrain, which can potentially make for a treacherous ascent/descent.
As of 2011, an official trail has been constructed for Beckler Peak. The trailhead is named "Jennifer Dunn Trailhead". Despite this being an official trail, according to the U.S. Forest Service the use of a Northwest Forest Pass (parking permit) is not yet required (but recommended).
CampingBackcountry camping is allowed on Alpine Baldy and within Wild Sky Wilderness.
Please contact a local ranger station, such as Skykomish Ranger Station, for further details.