What's There?Hey hey, this mountain is for sale! Check it out here. (Added 11/2/11)
Apparently, I have a fan club here on Summitpost. Or at least there are concerned SP citizens who have noticed that I haven’t put up a mountain page for over a year-and-a-half. The problem is I don’t climb anything interesting anymore so I have no notable mountains to add. But I’ll give it a try… If I can tear myself away from the riveting chat session I’m having with my alter ego whilst simultaneously flying my helicopter over Farmville, I’ll present you with this little dumpster summit called Tumtum Mountain.
Now I’m not talking about Tumtum Peak in Mount Rainier National Park. That’s the other Tumtum sumsum in the state. I’m talking about Tumtum Mountain in Southwest Washington 17 miles east of Woodland. Specifically, Tumtum Mountain is two miles due east of the little town of Chelatchie off Hwy 503, which leads to the south side of Mt. St. Helens.
So what is so special about Tumtum Mountain? Tumtum Mountain is probably the most conically-shaped mountain in the state—especially now that Mt. St. Helens has blown its top. Tumtum is a striking mountain when viewed from just about any direction. It’s a steep-sided cone, not a boring broad-sided one, with a slope angle of 35 degrees—pretty steep for a cinder cone. So, although the peak rises a mere 2004 feet above sea level, it does have 844 feet of prominence, which gives it enough stature in its general area to be easily identified and appreciated.
How did Tumtum get to be so conical? You guessed it: it’s an old volcano. Strictly speaking, it was a cinder cone. But what is more unique is that the cone mainly spewed dacitic lavas, which gave it its steep slopes. The only source of geologic information regarding Tumtum Mountain that could be found on the Internet is this scientific report. It’s a pretty thorough treatise on Tumtum Mountain. The peak is apparently the youngest and westernmost Quaternary volcano in the Washington Cascades.
An interesting note about the vegetation on the mountain’s slopes:
The mountain has been logged (robbed?) of its coniferous forest (here is an old photo of the mountain with evergreen forest on it) and, strangely, what has grown in its place is not a new coniferous forest but a deciduous one. This deciduous forest allows for wintertime views through the branches and makes for interesting hiking through it. The absence of a new evergreen forest is perhaps why the platform at the top is still a good viewpoint. Heck, people have even camped there (based on the evidence). Sunsets from the summit would be outstanding. Maybe the local yokels take their honeys up there to neck and super-neck.
Yes, the summit is a great viewpoint with 360-degree views to more dumpster summits, pretty (but manmade) Yale Lake, and even a distant Mt. St. Helens.
Driving ThereFrom Woodland (Exit 21 off I-5), drive east on any of several routes to Chelatchie then go east, from the country store there, on Healy Road to the base of the peak.
On the northwest side of the peak Healy Road comes to a crossroads with a herculean gate on the left and a private road on the right. There is a gate straight ahead too that has private property signs hanging on it. This is NOT the route up the peak. Well, you could go that way but it’s likely not the quickest anyway.
Instead, continue east on Healy Road (becomes FR-54 at this point) for about half-a-mile to a road on the right with a logging gate. Park here.*
* during hunting season this gate is open and you can drive through it to the next gate on the east side of Tumtum. For information on whether the gate is open or closed, see Weyerhaeuser Recreational Access or call 1-866-636-6531. The roads number in question is 8200.
Hiking ThereNote: taking a bike will make this a shorter endeavor.
From the gate off of FR-54 (680 ft), walk (or bike or drive if the gate is open) for 0.6 miles to a junction (920 ft). Go right up the hill to the first junction on the right (1000 ft) where there is a green gate (always locked). This is the start of the logging road that curls around the north side of the peak. You can take this logging road up onto the mountain. But things get a tad tricky, so bear with me.
The north side logging road curls counterclockwise around the mountain to an end on the west side of the peak at 1400 ft. The road does not connect to the roads on the south side of the peak (those roads originate from the private property gate at the northwest foot of the peak). There is a spur on the north side of the peak from the curling road that angles back up and left (southeastward) but it is overgrown and was hard to locate (on my way back down that way coming from the summit).
So my best advice is to take the counterclockwise road to its end on the west slope. There is a rock slab on the uphill side of the road end that provides the one good representation of solid rock that I saw. The rest of the rock I saw was merely rubbly talus, often loose underfoot when trying to climb up through it. At the very end of the road, slightly to its left side, a rudimentary trail goes under a tree then turns left to scratch its way directly up the slope. This trail may be a game trail. The trail peters out or blends in with the rubbly terrain as it winds around some stumps and minor brush. The objective is a higher logging road about 200 vertical feet higher up. Once on this upper road, take it left (clockwise) around the mountain. A final spur goes steeply up from the upper east side to the summit platform.
Time (from lower gate on foot) = 1.5 hours; Distance = 3 miles; Gain = 1320 ft.
A shortcut route up the ferny woods on the north slope can be taken. It might be a push for the climb up, but for the descent it is probably faster than going back to the road end on the west slope.
There is a connector spur on the north side of the summit that links up the upper logging road and a lower one on the east slope. On the descent I took this connector few hundred yards down to where it meets up with a larger logging road where a spur goes back left (NW). I took the spur left thinking it would connect with the lower north slope road at 1200 ft (I saw the spur going SE at 1200 ft). But the upper spur I took disappeared at a group of larger evergreens and I wonder if it ever connected like the Topo map indicates. Maybe I missed another junction. Or maybe the large evergreens grew up over an old landslide that obliterated the road there.
When to Climb ThereWhen to Climb
Year-round, though I might suggest a winter ascent to make use of the fact that the deciduous trees will be leafless and therefore you will more easily be able to see where you are going. Plus, don’t we all have more interesting peaks to climb in the summer?
Camping ThereCamping is not necessary to do this peak. However, the summit would make an excellent place to spend the night, particularly if an aureate sunset was to be expected that evening. Bring your own water.
The Weather ThereNOAA Local Forecast
Additions and Corrections[ Post an Addition or Correction ]