This is a great hike. September is a good time to make the effort because the snow and mosquitos have long been gone. The trail starts at Diamond Lake Resort at the horse corrals and heads east under the highway.
It is a nice long walk up to the PCT and it took me about 2.3 hours to cover the 7 miles. From here it is crosscountry to the summit. I headed directly up the slope south of Howlock Mtn. towards the word RIDGE on the Topo. Once at the ridgeline head north directly to the summit block on the ridgeline. This summit block is one dangerous pile of rocks. Everything moves. I dropped my pack and carefully edged my way up and then back down this rock pile. This isn't even the highest point for Howlock Mtn.
The true summit is east of this rock pile and is labeled 8396 on the map. It is an easy walk from the rock pile on the ridge line to the true summit to the east. I relaxed on the true summit and had lunch. It took me almost 4 hours to get this far.
For the return trip, I decided to take the long way home. I took the PCT south to the Thielsen Creek Campground at the base of Mt. Thielsen and then took Thiesen Creek Trail back to the Howlock Mtn. Trail and back to the TH. Total trip took about 8 hours, covered 18 miles and climbed about 3,200 feet. The only water along the way is a spring at Thielsen Creek Campground. Carry lots of water because it can be quite hot and it is a long day.