Greenway Mountain and Points 4304 and 4320 via Hall's Point Trail
View 1-24-2013 Greenway Mountain, Pt. 4304 and Pt 4320 in a larger map
Today was another late start due to work getting canceled at the last minute. I have been thinking about visiting Greenway Mountain near Mt Washington and Change Peak for months, waiting for snow to make the off-trail sections less painful for the dogs and humans involved. Several other factors made this an ideal day for the trip, including a relatively low avalanche danger forecast and a short drive to the trailhead (45 minutes from Seattle) to compensate for the late start.
With and roads covering most of the routes and a complete lack of necessary travel on South facing slopes, this would even make a good destination during moderate avy danger, though I would not recommend approaching from the Hall Point trail during such conditions. I also would not take a dog above Hall Point under any conditions as it would require significant added road-walking mileage, elevation loss, and/or bushwhacking in order to avoid loose, rough 30-degree-plus terrain with some exposure. The Great Wall Trail is a much more dog friendly route and adds less than 2 miles to the trip.
From exit 38 I parked at the gated road east of Hall Creek, crossed under an old railroad bridge and followed the Zig Zag Trail up to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, where the unofficial Hall's Point trail has two obvious starting points. The one further to the West next to Change Creek starts with a short scramble assisted by some fixed webbing. The dog-friendly entrance is behind a short section of railing to the East.
We made great time up the windy gully despite the trail being mostly covered in ice and compacted snow. About a mile from the John Wayne Pioneer Trail a boot path branches off towards what I thought was Halls Point. Automahn had a bit of trouble crossing a sharp and narrow section of ridge on the way out. Views were unobstructed from McClellan Butte to Mount Si, but continuing past the turnoff and up the ridge I found a sign pointing to Hall Point, still ahead. The snow at this point (about 2500') was about 2 feet deep and mostly firm below a few inches of powder in open areas, and about 6" of cascade concrete under canopy.
I strapped on my snowshoes before crossing the first apparent road around 3500'. Auto had some difficulty with the steepness of the ridge above, which looked like it only got worse, so we dropped back and followed the road toward the south. After losing about 200' of elevation we started through thinly spaced trees directly up the slope to the West. Across the next road up, the slope became steeper and trees gave way to massive stumps, mostly buried in the snow. With increased exposure the snow became harder and my snowshoes seemed to barely penetrate the surface. At this point I regretted leaving my ice axe behind, and decided it would have been much smarter to have continued further south into the protection of the forest before beginning the ascent. Either way, up was the safest option from where we sat so up we went to the road at the top of the ridge at 4100'.
The road brought us nearly to the summit of Greenway Mountain. The sky was mostly overcast around 10,000', covering the top of Tahoma but leaving the rest of the Cascades in clear view. Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan sat in the saddle between Mount Teneriffe and Green Mountain. Chester Morse Lake and the start of the Cedar River were in full view. I had a great vantage point on the two small peaks on the ridge to Mount Washington, each with about 200' of prominence.
Other than the short bushwhacks to the two small summits, the rest of our descent was on roads or trails. We could have saved a mile or two on the way out by dropping down towards Change Creek and exiting via the Hall's Point Trail, but being unfamiliar with the route and with the sun setting soon, we made our way out via the Great Wall and Mount Washington Trails. I somehow managed to make a wrong turn following mostly buried tracks along the road, but luckily realized my mistake before having to backtrack too far.
Compact snow and ice covered most of the trails below 3000'. We passed 3 hikers on their way in on the Mount Washington Trail, the only souls I had seen all day. I planned on taking the John Wayne all the way back to the Zig Zag Trail above my car, but frigid winds at the start of the bridge over Change Creek sent us down early on the Change Creek Trail. Compact snow and ice covered most of the trails below 3000'
~12 miles round trip
~5000' elevation gain
4 hours up to Greenway Mountain
3 hours down