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Mount Kent
Mountain/Rock

Mount Kent

 
Mount Kent

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 47.39034°N / 121.61776°W

Object Title: Mount Kent

County: King

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Bouldering, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 5087 ft / 1551 m

 

Page By: Redwic

Created/Edited: Oct 8, 2009 / Sep 2, 2010

Object ID: 561768

Hits: 5089 

Page Score: 78.27%  - 9 Votes 

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Overview

Mount Kent is one of the least summited peaks that rises above the South Fork Snoqualmie River valley of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Although located approximately nine miles southeast of North Bend, on the south side of I-90, the mountain is considerably overlooked and overshadowed by its much more popular neighbor peak, McClellan Butte, located northwest of Mount Kent. Most outdoor enthusiasts who even notice Mount Kent do so while climbing McClellan Butte. In fact, the beginning of the standard route for Mount Kent even uses the McClellan Butte Trail.
Mount Kent
The Steep Rocky North Face Of Mount Kent

The mountain is only a short drive from urban areas yet close enough to the Central Cascades to enjoy views of many nearby mountains. With an elevation of 5087', Mount Kent is neither the tallest nor the most prominent peak of the I-90 corridor between North Bend and Snoqualmie Pass. However, Mount Kent offers a decent combination of an easy YDS Class 1 hiking trail, YDS Class 2 off-trail hiking, and multiple low-tier YDS Class 3 bouldering and scrambling. The summit has an outstanding view overlooking much of the South Fork Snoqualmie River valley, as well as north towards the Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks, and even several volcanoes (Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Glacier Peak) can be seen from the summit on clear days. These aspects help make Mount Kent a solid destination for outdoor enthusiasts and mountaineers.
Mount Kent Summit
Mount Kent Summit Area

There are multiple ways to approach Mount Kent. The most common, standard approach is to begin by hiking up the McClellan Butte Trail, and then traversing east/southeast from there. More information for standard route is provided below. Another common approach, especially during inclement weather, is to drive to the location (near Alice Creek crossing) where Forest Road 9020 is always closed, then hiking further east along the road, and then hiking south up the gulley located east of the summit ridge. Yet another possible approach is to follow Alice Creek from its intersection with Forest Road 9020 to Alice Lakes, and then ascending east/southeast up steep slopes to the summit ridge.
Mount Kent and Alice Lakes
Slopes Leading To Summit Ridge From Alice Lakes

Getting There

FROM NORTH BEND, WA:

1) Drive east along I-90 until Exit 42 (Tinkham exit).
2) Drive south along Forest Road 55 for 0.3 miles, until an unmarked road on the rightside (southside) of the road.
3) Turn on the unmarked road and drive uphill for 0.2 miles to the McClellan Butte Trailhead (Trail #1015, ~1800' elevation).
4) Begin hiking. After 0.6 miles, the McClellan Butte Trail intersects wtih an abandoned forest road-trail. There is a sign instructing to turn right (north) for the McClellan Butte Trail.
5) After 0.4 miles further, the abandoned forest road-trail (the McClellan Butte Trail during this section) intersects with the very wide Iron Horse State Park/John Wayne Trail. Cross over the John Wayne Trail to continue on the McClellan Butte Trail. There is a sign showing this trail junction.
6) After 0.5 miles further, the McClellan Butte Trail intersects with Forest Road 9020 (~2200' elevation). Cross over the road to continue on the McClellan Butte Trail. This is a sign showing this trail junction.
7) Hike 2.5 miles further to where the McClellan Butte Trail turns north (~4600' elevation) shortly after the trail crosses a talus slope. This is where the standard route for Mount Kent, specifically, begins.

Some hikers have been known to eliminate 1.5 miles hiking distance (each direction) by taking Exit 38 off I-90, the driving east for several miles, and then following Forest Road 9020 south for 2.6 miles until its intersection with the McClellan Butte Trail. However, parking space is very limited and unobstructed Forest Service access to the road is required at all times. The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest emphasizes that Forest Road 9020 might be gated and locked at any time, at drivers' own risk, and recommends using the lower (official) McClellan Butte Trailhead and parking area.

Total hiking distance from lower (official) McClellan Butte Trailhead: ~11 miles, roundtrip.

Total hiking distance from higher McClellan Butte Trailhead (located along Forest Road 9020: ~8 miles, roundtrip.

Mount Kent and McClellan Butte Trail #1015 are both shown on Green Trails Map #206.

Standard Route

1) As mentioned above, hike the McClellan Butte Trail until reaching the location (~4600' elevation) where the trail turns north, due north of a saddle connecting McClellan Butte to a ridgeline leading towards Mount Kent.
2) Leave the trail and begin a brief bushwhack south until reaching a talus slope.
NOTE: There might be indications of a faint boot path at the location where to leave the McClellan Butte Trail.
3) Continue heading south/southeast along the talus/boulder slope until reaching the small saddle (~4300' elevation) connecting McClellan Butte to the ridgeline leading southeast towards Mount Kent.
Mount Kent
Descending Talus Slope To Saddle And Ridge Leading Towards Mount Kent

NOTE: An alternate starting option is to descend the last talus slope (~4550' elevation) passed along the McClellan Butte Trail, and then follow that talus slope to where it meets the east side of the small saddle.
4) Traverse southeast along the east side of the ridgeline leading towards Mount Kent, passing several steep talus slopes and steep forested sections, until reaching the location where Alice Creek leaves the outlet of the northernmost of Alice Lakes (~4350' elevation).
Northernmost of Alice Lakes
The Northernmost Of Alice Lakes

5) Hike around the small lake to the talus/boulder western slope of Mount Kent.
6) Carefully ascend east/southeast up the talus/boulder slopes, which lead up to meadow/forest upper slopes, until reaching the summit ridge of Mount Kent. Depending where the ridge is attained, some minor scrambling (little-to-exposure) might be needed to reach the true summit (5087' elevation), but the true summit itself is fairly open and easy to traverse.
Mount Kent Talus Slope
Steep Talus Slope Leading Towards Summit Ridge

NOTE: The summit can be reached from either its northwest summit ridgeline or southwest summit ridgeline. In the meadow/forested sections of the upper slopes, it might be necessary to hold onto tree branches to keep from slipping on the steep, soft ground.

When To Climb

The prime timeframe to climb Mount Kent is between mid-July and mid-Autumn, while snow is not present on the mountain and/or avalanche dangers have passed. During snow-covered months (usually between mid-Autumn to mid-Spring/early Summer), extremely high avalanche dangers exist on the mountain, especially where the McClellan Butte Trail crosses several steep avalanche gulleys and on the steep talus slopes located on Mount Kent and the surrounding ridges. The use of an ice axe and crampons is highly recommended on the mountain during periods when snow is present.

It is not recommended to make a summit attempt during wet conditions, as the talus slopes and the steep forested slopes can be very slick, mossy, and unstable in places. Roping and belaying is not likely necessary for summiting Mount Kent, but common sense and extra caution is required during all summit attempts. Many summiters tend to need the use of grabbing tree limbs for added stability on steep sections of the standard route, even during dry climate periods.

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Red Tape

A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park in this area.

Campfires are not permitted. Caution should be implemented when using cooking stoves, especially during Summer months and dry periods when fire danger increases.

Both Mount Kent and the McClellan Butte Trail is typically not recommended during months of snow-cover, due to extremely high avalanche dangers. Some mountaineers have been known to make winter ascents of Mount Kent, typically via a gully located east/southeast of the summit, but the Forest Service advises against such efforts for safety reasons. For current trail conditions, contact the the North Bend Ranger Station at 425-888-1421 (Seattle 206-622-8378).

The City of Seattle/Cedar River Watershed Ecological Reserve is located southwest of McClellan Butte Trail. The Cedar River Watershed is a "closed" watershed; public access is prohibited. Those entering the watershed area unauthorized might be prosecuted. When attempting to climb Mount Kent using the standard route, it is important to stay on the McClellan Butte Trail and north side of the ridge connecting McClellan Butte to Mount Kent, especially if the exact boundary of the watershed is unknown. There is a dirt/gravel road located southwest of McClellan Butte and west of Mount Kent; this road is located within the watershed area and public access is prohibited at all times. However, Alice Lakes are NOT located in the watershed (as the lake basins drain north into the Snoqualmie River drainage rather than south into the Cedar River drainage) and may be visited at any time, but visitors are not allowed to travel west or south of the two major lakes (i.e. into the Cedar River Watershed).

Camping

Camping is not permitted on Mount Kent or at the trailhead locations.

However, Tinkham Campground is an official established campground located only a short distance (less than one mile) along Forest Road 55, from the turnoff for lower (official) McClellan Butte Trailhead.

In addition, a backcountry campground ("Carter Creek Camp") is located along the John Wayne Trail approximately 2.8 miles east along that trail from its intersection with the McClellan Butte Trail.

Campfires are not permitted. Caution should be implemented when using cooking stoves, especially during Summer months and dry periods when fire danger increases.

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