There are a number of summits with the name Round Mountain in the state of Washington. This particular Round Mountain is a popular hiking summit and former lookout area located in the Goats Peaks Wilderness. Located both nearby White Pass and Clear Lake camping area this 5 mile, 1800 foot elevation gain by easiest route summit is probably one of more popular hiking destinations in the region.
This peak is an ideal mid to late October summit with tons of tall western larch all over its upper elevations. Western larch for or seasonal carnivorous trees change their color in Washington State usually in mid to late October to a powerful yellow color. The trail from the east travels through larch stands of these trees and would be an ideal summit for fall foliage.
The main way up Round Mountain is from the east on the Round Mountain trail. This trail climbs at a steady grade from the trailhead all the way to the summit. About 0.4 miles from the summit the trail splits one (to the left) pointing to the lookout and the (to the right) continuous heading to the west. Choose the left one and soon you will be on your way to the summit of Round Mountain. Because of its relative ease in difficulty and elevation gain, Round Mountain is an ideal summit for both beginning hikers and children. There is a way to link Round Mountain to Twin Peaks by continuing on the Round Mountain trail all the way to the eastern summit of Twin Peaks where excellent views from both the higher eastern peak and the more open western peak await.
In winter this would probably make a good snowshoe trip though prepare for a much larger vertical gain due to the Round Mountain road being closed. This particular area does receive a lot of drier snow in the winter months. The slope going up should be gentle enough to just warrant snowshoe to the summit of Round Mountain.
Round Mountain is not an open summit but there are excellent views on both sides of the mountain. From the east where the lookout is located there is an excellent view of Rimrock Lake and eastern Washington to the east and Mount Adams to the south. On the day I went I could not get good photos of Adams due to the serious forest fires in this region. To the west is another excellent viewpoint of the entire Goats Rock Wilderness along with Snowy and Ives Peaks. If you go to the edge of the right ledge you can get an excellent unobstructed view of Mount Rainier.
Getting ThereFrom US 12 Six miles from east of White Pass and less than a mile from Indian Creek Campground make a left onto Tieton Road. Stay on Tieton Road for four miles past Clear Lake. you will pass a YMCA Camp and the Clear Lake Campground on your way. The Round Mountain road will be on your right, FS 530, will be on your right and clearly marked. The road up for the most part is in good condition. However there are two rather large potholes halfway up in which car will have to use caution on.
Red TapeWilderness Permit had to be filled out at the trailhead. I did see a sign at the trailhead requiring a Northwest Forest Pass but I am assuming that one is required here because in most other parts of the region they are required.
CampingThis is clearly day hike in which people bring their children and families up to the summit. There is also no water sources I saw in the general area. Legally yo can camp or bivy on and around the summit area. Outside of seeing a cool morning sunrise I don't know why.
That being said down by the base of the Round Mountain road there are a number of excellent campgrounds to choose from. From Clear Lake Campground to Indian Creek Campground and Silver Lake Resort there are plenty of camping areas in this region to camp at before you hike. If you stop by the Silver Lake Resort in the summer you have to check out the food there. The Rimrock Burger is one of the most tastiest burgers I have had ever!!! It puts Red Robn to shame!!!
External LinksHere is a link from the Washington Trails Association on trip reports up Round Mountain
NwHikers Trip Report on Round Mountain