So much fun with so little effort!!
Do you ever want to impress a non-hiking friend and show them a peak that will blow there minds with great views. Well the main summit of Hamilton Buttes is the perfect summit for you. In summer the route up this mountain is very easy depending on what vehicle you bring up here. If you have a high clearence 4X4 truck your elevation gain could end up being under 600 feet. If your have a passenger car that is not built to handle rough roads you are more likely to have 5 mile 1400 feet elevation gain trip. Most trips from Mud Lake are roughly around 900 feet of elevation gain and 3 miles.
Plaque on the main summit
Mount Adams covered in clouds
That is not a lot of effort considering that once you get to the summit of this peak you are granted stunning views of Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens and even a distant Mount Hood. The northern cliffs from both the false summit and the main summit are especially impressive. Mount Adams and Goat Peaks are especially impressive because they practically are almost right up in your face. It should be noted that the trail goes all the way to the western false summit. The way to the true summit looks rather frightful from the false summit but it is actually not bad at all. It would be best described as a Class 2 (at worst) slightly exposed walk-up scramble to the top.
Looking over at the true summit of Hamilton Butte
Head south from Randle on Forest Road 25 for about a mile. Make a left onto the Forest Road 23 and stay on it for 11 miles. Make a left onto Road #22 and take it 5.7 miles. Make a right turn onto Road No. 78 and take the road for 7.2 miles up to the pass. Make a left and drive as you feel comfortable. The road goes 1.8 miles to a Y but starts to deteriorate at about 0.5 miles. I stopped here but more sturdy cars and trucks can make it further. Go right at the Y and find the trailhead for Mud Lake. Most vehicles should park here because the road above is severely rutted. The trailhead is a half mile further but only high clearance vehicles will make it.
The map of the route
Depending on where you park will depend on how long your trip to the summit will be. Once you do hit the main trail you will note that this is seems to be a dirt bike path all the way to the false summit. The final route to the true summit looks challenging from the false summit. This small push is somewhat exposed and though Josh Lewis and I were able to basically walk to the summit some would classify it as one slightly exposed Class 2 ridge traverse move. Essentially use some care and caution and you will be fine on this section. Views on both the false and true summit are stunning.
The final ridge traverse
The final summit push. Josh standing on the true summit
There is no red tape or parking passes need for this trip.
When to Climb
Clearly the best time due to access to the mountain is from mid-June to mid-October depending on snow conditions. On very low snow years such as 2015 late May is very doable.
The true summit of Hamilton Buttes. The best time to go is in summer.
This is a very camping friendly area. There are a number of spots by Mud Lake for nice FREE camping. One can also bivy on the summit if they do not mind dealing with some of the glass on the summit.