Granite Mountain is the highest point on the Cle Elum River-French Creek divide in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness near Deception Pass. It is easily climbed from the Robin Lakes area, a very popular backpacking destination. It's nearest higher neighbor is Mt. Daniel
, the views of which are terrific from the entire Robin Lakes plateau. The views from the summit are amazing. Mt. Baker
and Glacier Peak
to the north, the Chiwaukum Mountains to the east, Mt. Stuart
to the southeast, Mt. Adams
to the south, and Mt. Rainier
to the southwest are all visible on a clear day.
Drive I-90 east from Snoqualmie Pass or west from Ellensburg and take Exit 80. Proceed north through Roslyn (the little burg made famous in the TV show Northern Exposure
and Ronald and toward Salmon la Sac, 16 miles from Roslyn. Just before entering this little community, turn right on Forest Road 4330 and drive to the end of the road and the Hyas Lake-Deception Pass trailhead, trail number 1376, elevation 3550 feet. At 1.5 nearly flat miles on the trail you will reach Hyas Lake, a very popular short backpacking destination. At about four miles the trail starts up toward Deception pass, and at about 4.5 miles (4300 feet) is a side trail leading to the right. This trail was never graded, so it weaves around trees and often goes straight up the hill instead of switchbacking. At about 6 miles and 5200+ feet you reach a rock outcropping from which are great views of Mt. Daniel, Hyas Lake, Cathedral Rock, and the Cle Elum River Valley. Only a short distance farther is Tuck Lake, which is even more popular for backpackers than is Hyas Lake. There is not much level ground here, so every spot is a camp, and they are all needed on a good-weather weekend. If you like swimming in sub-alpine lakes that might even be somewhat warm during some summers, this one is hard to beat. But if you're seeking solitude, fuhgetaboutit!!
The route to Robin Lakes from Tuck Lake begins after crossing the outlet creek of Tuck, on the south side of the lake. Simply climb the ridge from that point, and you are on your way. There are many cairns marking the way, but they are scarcely needed. As you near the top of the ridge where it connects to the slabby granite mountainside above, follow the beaten track down off the ridge and onto the slope above the east end of Tuck Lake. Climb this until you rejoin the ridge. Turn left and angle up and to the right over the slabs, heading for an obvious basin. You will find lower Robin Lake first, with the upper lake to the east. This area has been called "The Little Enchantments", by reference to the larger and higher Enchantment Lakes Basin not too far away. It well deserves the title. There are many small but very inviting lakes to be found as you wander the area.
Granite Mountain is just south of the large upper lake, and is easily climbed either from the ridge between the two lakes, or from the ridge east of the upper lake.
All trails and some picnic areas and campsites in the Wenatchee National Forest require a regional pass costing $5/day or $30/year. Golden Age and Golden Access Passport holders may purchase the above pass at a 50% discount. The Golden Eagle Passport will not apply to the Regional Northwest Forest Pass. You can get them at these ranger stations
, or it can be purchased online from the Washington Trails Association
. A free wilderness permit is available at the trailhead.
When To Climb
Granite Mountain is best climbed from late June through October, with optimal conditions occurring from mid-July through September.
Many forest campgrounds can be found along the Cle Elum River road. Camping is permitted along the trails and at Hyas Lake, Tuck Lake, and the Robin Lakes.
Limited condition information is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/recreate/recmain.html
. For current conditions call the Cle Elum Ranger District at (509)674-4411.