OverviewSky Mountain is the local name given to the highest point of the horseshoe-shaped ridge located immediately north of Stevens Pass, Washington. Despite being the highest point on the ridgeline, the peak is greatly overlooked and seldom summited by most peakbaggers due to a more popular rocky-topped peak (known as "Skyline Ridge" or "Heather Ridge") on the south side of the horseshoe-shaped ridgeline located nearby.
Although the standard summit approach is considered non-technical, Sky Mountain requires more time to summit than nearby Skyline Ridge or most other peaks in the immediate Stevens Pass area. Due to steep slopes on the approach, extra caution is needed for the traverse and summit attempts are most recommended during Summer and Autumn months. The peak is not recommended during snowy Winter months due to its steep slopes and approaches, although the snowshoe treks have been known to occur. Alternate approaches are also possible during Spring after snow on avalanche-prone slopes begin to consolidate.
With over 1000' of prominence, and by being the highest elevation on its ridgeline, Sky Mountain offers a great viewpoint of surrounding areas. Nearby, peaks such as Cowboy Mountain, Big Chief Mountain, Windy Mountain, and Tye Peak are easily seen. Further away, peaks such as Lichtenberg Mountain, Union Peak, Jove Peak, Mount Howard, and Mount Mastiff can be seen. Far away, peaks such as Glacier Peak, Mount Stuart, Big Chiwaukum, Mount Daniel, and Mount Hinman can be seen.
STARTING FROM STEVENS PASS, WASHINGTON:
1) Go to the large parking area that is located on the NORTHEAST side of Stevens Pass & Highway 2. This is the same parking area from which to head north on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Stevens Pass. Park here (~4050' elevation).
2) On the north side of the parking area, there is a small gray building. Walk along the dirt/gravel road that passes on the LEFT side of the gray building.
NOTE: The "road" to the right of the gray building leads to the PCT.
3) The road immediately passes under power lines and turns left as it heads uphill, and then after passing a few buildings turns right. Within 0.2 miles from the parking area, a red-brown gate blocks vehicle entrance to the road.
4) Walk beyond the gate. After another 0.25 miles, a small green WSDOT building is seen on the rightside of the road.
5) From the WSDOT building location, there are two options: Continue following the switchbacking road up the ridge, or follow an official climbers path that begins immediately across the road from the WSDOT building. The climbers path is steep, but can save a lot of time by cutting off very long sections of road.
NOTE: Both route options can be seen using the satellite image in Google Earth.
6) After one mile of road-walk (much less if climbers path was used), the end of the climbers path and the road meet where the road turns sharply right & uphill. There is a jeep trail heading off the crest (left) of the road-turn, which heads towards Skyline Lake.
NOTE: Do not continue along the road, as it soon ends at a lower ridgecrest where a communications tower is located.
7) Turn onto the jeep trail and follow it for 0.50 miles to Skyline Lake (5092' elevation).
NOTE: The jeep trail becomes an obvious hiker trail within 0.25 miles of the lake.
8) Just prior to reaching the lake, turn left (west) onto a side trail that follows along the lake's southern side.
9) The side-trail reaches a small meadow and remnants of an old cabin on the WSW side of Skyline Lake. This is basically the site of a trail junciton. Taking a sharp turn right leads to the lake, and taking the sharp turn left (on that same trail-path), passing the cabin, eventually dead-ends. To reach Skyline Ridge, Sky Mountain, and beyond, head straight (north) on the initially faint climbers path that begins on the right side of the cabin. The path soon becomes much more defined and easy to follow.
10) Once on the ridgetop, the trail heads west towards the popular rocky highpoint known as Skyline Ridge or Heather Ridge. Just prior to reaching the first rocky scramble, turn left (south) to a large bouldery rock garden.
11) Hike slightly southwest through the bouldery rock garden, until reaching forest on the other side. The forested section is located below (south) of the upper rocky cliffs of Skyline Ridge, at ~5300' elevation.
12) Side-traverse along steep forested and meadow slopes until beyond the rocky Skyline Ridge highpoint. Then head NNW to a saddle connecting Skyline Ridge to its tiny western false summit.
13) From the western false summit of Skyline Ridge, head WNW to Sky Mountain. Initially head down to a brief saddle and then ascend to Sky Mountain, or initially head down to a boulder gully and then ascend to Sky Mountain.
14) Once near the southern ridgetop of Sky Mountain, head due north to the summit. Stay to the right (east) of the ridgetop whenever possible. Contrary to its appearance from nearby peaks, the summit actually has an open area (albeit with some boulders and small trees).
ESTIMATED ROUNDTRIP HIKING DISTANCE TO/FROM PARKING AREA: 5.50 miles