Mount Cavanaugh, located in the foothills of the northern Cascades is another low elevation summit that many locals in region would refer to as a dumpster dive. Located on private timber land, this mountain is not very popular except with locals and peakbaggers in the region. The area is under video surveillance and there is no motorized vehicles allowed on the road. Adding on to the lack of desire of people wanting to do this summit is the constant gun fire that can be heard from a nearby fire range. That all being said that doesn't meant Mount Cavanaugh is not a worthy summit to go up.
In 2009 the whole entire summit of Mount Cavanaugh was logged off which has now opened up incredible views off its summit that would normally be associated with higher mountains in the region. The summit itself does not look desirable in summer but in winter under a cover of snow this mountain looks a whole lot more desirable and the views off the summit towards Lake Cavanaugh and Glacier Peak are very beautiful. I assume that in the next twenty years these will again disappear as the new growth takes over but for now excellent views can be seen from this summer.
From an author's standpoint the ideal time to be on this mountain is in winter after a large amount of low elevation snow in the Puget Sound Region. There are a couple reasons for to go up this peak at that time. The first reason is because all of the views are heavily enhanced by the snow and this mountain looks a lot more desirable to climb. The second even more important reason is that the road up to Mount Cavanaugh is owned by a private timber company and is subject to closures during the logging season. These seasonal closures are much less likely to happen in the winter.
Route Up To Mount Cavanaugh
The route up to Mount Cavanaugh is an easy Class 1 road-walk all the way up to the summit. Follow the well maintain private forest road roughly a mile and a half up. You will see an obvious forest road to your right that heads uphill. Head up this forest road as it will take you all the way to the summit. There will be an excellent view of Lake Cavanaugh roughly halfway up on incline to the summit. Continue on to the forested summit where more and better views await.
Getting ThereFROM THE LAKE CAVANAUGH ROAD: From the south in Seattle there are number of way you can take to Route 9 in order to get to Mount Cavanaugh and all of them reach Lake Cavanaugh Road at nearly the same time. For this page purposes here is the way I took to Mount Cavanaugh.
From I-5 get of on exit 221 on Route WA-534 east toward the town of Lake McMurray. Stay on the road for 5 miles and then make a left on WA-9 and head north for 4.3 miles. Make right onto Lake Cavanaugh Road and take it 9.1 miles. You will notice a gated road on your right.
FROM THE BELLINGHAM AREA:
Get off of exit 227 and make a left onto WA-538/College Way. Stay on the road for 3.7 mi until you reach a traffic circle. At the traffic circle, merge onto WA-9 south toward Lake McMurray or Arlington. Stay on the road 5.5 mi until you reach Lake Cavanaugh Road on your left. Take Lake Cavanaugh Road 9.1 miles. You will notice a gated road on your right.