Looking for a peak with a high elevation? Then this is not the peak for you. Looking for a peak with many miles of gorgeous backcountry hiking trails? Then this is not the peak for you. Looking for a peak with spectacular 360-degree views from its summit? Then this is not the peak for you.
Then just why would anybody want to visit Anderson Mountain, in Skagit County of Washington? Several important reasons, actually.
Anderson Mountain, as seen from Whacme Mountain...
One reason that Anderson Mountain is important is because the mountain, despite its relatively low elevation, is one of 144 peaks in Washington with over 2000' of prominence. Further still, Anderson Mountain is one of 52 peaks in Washington with over 3000' of prominence. And of peaks in Washington with at least 3000' of prominence, Anderson Mountain has the lowest elevation. This makes Anderson Mountain somewhat of an anomaly, with prominence (3034') only slightly less than elevation (3364').
The West Side Of Anderson Mountain
Of Washington peaks with at least 3000' of prominence, Anderson Mountain has the third-highest percentage of prominence-to-elevation, also known as dominance
. With a prominence of 3034' and an elevation of 3364', that means 90.1% of the mountain's overall elevation has dominance
(i.e. 3034 divided by 3364 = 90.1%). Only Mount Olympus (98.2%) and Mount Rainier (91.7%) have higher percentages of dominance
for Washington peaks with at least 3000' of prominence.
(Of Washington peaks with at least 2000' of prominence, the mountain with the highest percentage of
dominance is Mount Constitution, which rises from sea level on Orcas Island and, as a result, has 100%
dominance with a prominence equalling its elevation.)
One Of Many Small Streams Seen On Anderson Mountain
In addition to prominence, another reason that Anderson Mountain is important is because the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) traverses over the peak rather than bypassing it. In fact, the PNT is only approximately 150' elevation lower than the summit where the highpoint is passed on its north end, making summit attempts require less off-trail travel than from other possible directions. The Anderson Mountain trail system for the PNT began getting developed in 1996 and 1997, then later improved in 2002. Volunteers periodically provide trail maintenance for the PNT sections of the mountain.
Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) Sign On Anderson Mountain
For some summiters, two slang peakbagging terms might come to mind for Anderson Mountain: dumpster dive
. The mountain can be considered by some people to be a dumpster dive
because it is a low-elevation peak that is not very aestetically pleasing to look at and which has what some people might consider as fairly uninteresting summit routes, at least when compared with many other Washington mountains. The mountain might also be considered a Napoleon
, which is a slang term for a low-elevation peak which has prominence for a large percentage of its height (as mentioned earlier). However, slang terms notwithstanding, Anderson Mountain is truly a peakbagger's peak with regional significance.
Getting ThereFrom Sedro Woolley, WA:
1) While in the city, drive to the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 9.
2) Turn north onto Highway 9.
3) Drive 7.1 miles north of Sedro Woolley along Highway 9.
4) Turn left onto an unmarked (gated) gravel logging road.* This marks the entrance to Bloedel Logging Road. The gate is typically closed. Even if the gate is open, it is highly recommended to park in the wide area outside of the gate as the gate can be closed/locked at any time without notice. Make certain not to park in front of the gate, so logging traffic can continue to access the road if/as needed.
*NOTE: For reference purposes, the unmarked logging road appears shortly after passing Hathaway Road and Upper Samish Road on Highway 9.
Standard East Route
Satellite Image Of Standard East Route
From the gate/parking area at the intersection of Highway 9 and Bloedel Logging Road:
1) Hike beyond the gate at the entrance to Bloedel Logging Road and ascend the road. Within a mile, the road also becomes known as Coons Road (because another gravel road with that name intersects with Bloedel Logging Road during that span).
Gated Entrance To Bloedel Logging Road
2) Hike up Bloedel Logging Road/Coons Road for approximately 3.5 miles, until a side gravel road is intersected at approximately 2200' elevation. There might be white rectangles, also known as "blazes", painted onto trees at this road junction. The white blazes represent the PNT.
GPS coordinates: N48 37.493 W122 14.743
Turnoff For PNT Road-Trail Section
3) Turn onto the side gravel road and ascend north.
4) Follow this road-trail section of the PNT for approximately 0.7 miles, until reaching a forested trail junction that leaves the road at approximately 2650' elevation. There is a "PNT" sign at the entrance to this trail section, as well as several white blazes on trees.
GPS Coordinates: N48 37.856 W122 14.906
Turnoff For PNT Forested Trail Section
5) Continue following the PNT, occasionally crossing and intersecting several old logging roads, for approximately 1.7 miles, until reaching a small open gravel area at nearly 3230' elevation. This location is known as "Whatcom Overlook", as it offers a fantastic view northwest for Lake Whatcom when looking through a treed area on the north end of the open area.
GPS Coordinates: N48 38.618 W122 15.276
View Northwest Towards Lake Whatcom From "Whatcom Overlook"
6) From "Whatcom Overlook", head south and uphill for approximately 0.1 miles, leaving the PNT, through a thick coniferous forest until reaching the summit (3364' elevation). There are little-to-no views from the actual summit areas, although areas a short walk to the west and east on the highpoint offer a few outward-facing views.
Ascending Forested Slope To Summit Area
ONE-WAY HIKING DISTANCE: Approximately 6.0 miles with over 3000' of elevation gain.
NOTE: From "Whatcom Overlook", the PNT briefly heads south until encountering a logging road south of the highpoint, and then continues down the west slopes of the mountain. Hence, western summit approaches are possible for Anderson Mountain, but such approaches would involve more mileage (and more possible wrong turns) than from the standard east approach as described above.
Open Area Of "Whatcom Overlook"
No permits are required to park at the trailhead (gate), or to hike Anderson Mountain. However, it is highly recommended to either utilize a Northwest Forest Pass (i.e. standard trailhead parking permit) or place a note of intent on the dashboard of the vehicle so officials and logging personnel do not think the vehicle is abandoned, broken down, or stolen.
A GPS device and topographic map are highly recommended. This is especially important during periods when snow covers over roads and trails, making "main" route less distinguishable than normal.
Camping is not allowed on Anderson Mountain.
A sample PNT map for Anderson Mountain can be found at here