Iron Mountain, as seen from the south
Iron Mountain is a mountain summit located in the central region of Wild Sky Wilderness of Washington State. The nearest town is Index, Washington. Iron Mountain can be climbed any time of the year, changing from a late-summer hike to mid-winter snowshoe adventure. The summit route is approximately 10 miles, roundtrip.
Iron Mountain has a long history of mining and logging activities. In the early 1900s the peak was called "Galena Mountain", after the mining community of the same name located due north of the mountain. A L-4 cab fire lookout was built on the northern slopes of the mountain in 1931, overlooking the community, but then the lookout was moved to Sobieski Mountain (near the town of Skykomish) in 1941. No remnants of the original fire lookout remain, and even its exact original location and elevation are no longer known. Most logging and mining activities have not taken place on or around the mountain for many years. However, with the creation of Wild Sky Wilderness in 2008, these activities have not only officially stopped at the mountain but also the old logging/mining roads winding around the mountain slopes have been decommissioned or abandoned.
Although some sections of the major routes around the mountain's lower southern slopes, Trout Creek Road and Iron Mountain Road, are still accessible to some ORVs, the federal government intends on these roads eventually becoming hiker-only trails and inaccessible to all motor vehicles. Many sections of the Iron Mountain roads are already torn up, are seasonal streambeds, and/or are overgrown, and those roads will become that way moreso over time.
From Gold Bar, Washington:
Head east along Highway 2 to the Index turnoff. The Mount Index Cafe is at the intersection.
Follow Index-Galena Road for 6.2 miles, crossing Trout Creek.
Shortly after crossing Trout Creek, two entrances to Trout Creek Road (unmarked) are found on the rightside (southeast) side of Index-Galena Road.
Park on either side of Index-Galena Road, making certain to park totally off the main road.
The route begins at the entrance to Trout Creek Road (850' elevation) along Index-Galena Road. The old road initially heads northeast before bending southeast to travel parallel to Trout Creek. After approximately 0.75 miles, the road splits (1300'). The leftside road is the beginning of Iron Mountain Road, and continually switchbacks up Iron Mountain's southern slopes. In contrast, the rightside (or straight) road continues following Trout Creek Road towards Sunset Mine, located approximately one mile from the road intersection, and other areas near Trout Creek.
Trout Creek Road
Beginning of Iron Mountain Road (left)
Iron Mountain Road
After approximately 2.75 miles (3300') along Iron Mountain Road, the road splits. Follow the left road, which quickly becomes more of a overgrown trail than a road in multiple locations.
Road Splits, Becomes Trail (left)
Various southern viewpoints begin to be passed. Ragged Ridge to the west, Gunn Peak
& Merchant Peak
to the south, and Burley Mountain & Townsend Mountain
to the southeast all start coming into view. Continue following the road approximately 1.0 mile further, to its end (4300') near an old sloped clearcut area.
Looking South at Nearby Peaks
Saddle Ridge Leading to Summit
From the end of the road, the summit (northwest of that location) will only be approximately 0.50 miles distance. However, this will be the steepest, most technical part of the hike. Start steeply climbing up through or along the old clearcut slope to the saddle ridge located north of the end of the road. There is no official route or path leading up to the saddle ridge (4800'). Use your best judgment. Once on the saddle ridge, follow it northwest to the rocky summit (5245') of Iron Mountain. Great views of nearby peaks can be seen.
Iron Mountain Summit Panorama (Photo by "kevinsa")
NOTE: Iron Mountain is shown on Green Trails Map #143.
No signs showing rules, restrictions, or permits are currently posted at the entrance to Trout Creek Road.
However, as part of Wild Sky Wilderness, local ranger stations ask all vehicles to have a Northwest Forest Pass for parking along Index-Galena Road. Although not an official trailhead, the Northwest Forest Pass helps identify a vehicle as not abandoned.
No helmet is required for the climb up to the saddle ridge connecting to Iron Mountain. However, use extra caution as the slope is very steep and loose in places.
Iron Mountain Looming Above Road
Camping is permitted within Wild Sky Wilderness, in established locations.
Currently, no wilderness permits or camping permits are required.