OverviewOctober 2010: Due to the ongoing progress of logging activity on the western slopes of Lyman Hill, local peakbagger Ken Russell has verified an alternate western approach that begins at the same location but involves far-less troublesome bushwhacking and far-more road-walking. See towards the bottom of the page for the Ken Russell variation of this approach.
The western approach for Lyman Hill is quickly becoming the new standard summit approach for the mountain. Although the hiking terrain involved can at times be tedious, the western approach has been gaining favor with local peakbaggers due to the route’s greatly shortened ascent time and distance when compared to its older alternative. The older southeastern approach is 25 miles and typically requires the use of a mountain bike to complete the trip in one day, whereas the newer western approach is only approximately 11-12 miles roundtrip and is quite attainable in one day even without the use of a mountain bike. For hiking purists who try to stray away from the use of mountain biking for summit attempts whenever possible, the western approach for Lyman Hill might be the preferred summit route of choice.
Satellite Image Of Western Approach
From the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 9 in the middle of Sedro-Woolley, WA:
1) Drive north on Highway 9 for 6.2 miles.
2) Turn right onto Hathaway Road.
3) Drive along the road for 0.8 miles, until reaching the gate at the beginning of a forest road.
4) There is a small automobile turnout on the side of the road just prior to the gate. Park there.
A map, compass, and GPS are each very helpful for this approach, especially considering the various forest roads located on the mountain slopes as well as the hiking through thick forests needed. The western summit approach for Lyman Hill begins at the gate (~460’ elevation) located at the end of Hathaway Road. Within approximately the distance of two city blocks, a branch forest road heads straight (due east) while the main forest road bends to the left (north). Continue following the main forest road. The branch road leads to a different possible variation of this route, which will be mentioned later.
Gate At Beginning Of Western Approach
The main forest road continues switchbacking up the lower western slopes of Lyman Hill. At ~1530’ elevation, the main forest road switchbacks uphill to the left (northeast) while a branch forest road continues straight (south). Go straight onto the branch forest road. At ~1700’ elevation, the road splits. Follow the road to the left, which continues uphill (whereas the road to the right heads downhill).
At ~1530' Elevation... Keep Going Straight!
At ~2030’ elevation, the road reaches its highest point before heading downhill. A stream might be heard flowing further along the road. Continue following the road for a short distance further until reaching its abrupt end near a stream at ~2000’ elevation. This completes the first-half, and arguably the easiest half, of the summit ascent.
End Of Forest Road
After the end of the road, the route requires a hike through thick forests, logging debris, and downed trees and branches. Without any defined trail leading the way, the basic rule is to continue uphill heading east. The most difficult terrain is located between 2000’-2700’ elevation, where fallen (or cut) trees, logs, and branches have littered the forest floor for many years. Much of the terrain above 2700’ elevation is similar, but tends to be more manageable to hike through. Please note the forest ground is soft, and the loose vegetation, dirt, and moss can be slippery during wet weather conditions. Use caution and common sense.
Hiking Through Thick Forest
Depending upon which exact forest path choice is taken, a forest road (north-south trending) will be encountered between 3200’-3400’ elevation. Turn right and follow the road south. At approximately 3650’ elevation, a branch road veers back left (north) while the apparent main forest road continues southward. From that location, one option would be to continue south on the main forest road for a short distance further until an apparent manageable traverse (only ~250’ elevation gain) due east is found, and once the ridgetop is attained (~3900’ elevation) head north uphill along a well-used forest road to the true summit (4280’+ elevation).
Hiking Road North Along Ridgetop To Summit
Another option would be to follow the branch road northward to a section of the ridgetop (~4000’ elevation) located north of the true summit and then hike south uphill to the true summit.
The western approach is approximately 11-12 miles roundtrip (depending on forest ascent choice), with 3820’ elevation gain.
At the request of some peakbaggers, as extra assistance for this route I am including a list of GPS coordinates (in order) of a sample GPS track/route through the thick forested travel between forest roads:
N48 35.813 W122 11.184 (Near Where Forest Road Ends Close To Stream)
N48 35.795 W122 11.162
N48 35.749 W122 10.994
N48 35.724 W122 10.955
N48 35.708 W122 10.731
N48 35.704 W122 10.619
N48 35.649 W122 10.588
N48 35.654 W122 10.272 (Leaving Forest/Join Upper Forest Road)
Again, this is a sample track to be used as a general reference tool only. Different routes might work better for different peakbaggers, especially depending upon route conditions. The forest is not impenetrable, but the thickness of the logging debris and forest debris on the ground is definitely not what most people would enjoy traversing across.
"Ken Russell" Variation Of Western ApproachOctober 2010: Due to the ongoing progress of logging activity on the western slopes of Lyman Hill, local peakbagger Ken Russell has verified an alternate western approach that begins at the same location but involves far-less troublesome bushwhacking and far-more road-walking. The map he provided (see below) shows the basics of that route variation.
"Ken Russell" Variation
Alternate Route Variation
Begin at the gate (~460’ elevation) located at the end of Hathaway Road. Within approximately the distance of two city blocks, a branch forest road heads straight (due east) while the main forest road bends to the left (north). The branch forest road can be followed, first east and then south, until it turns into a virtual labyrinth of ATV trails. Follow ATV trails east until reaching a road at ~1600’ elevation. Turn left (north) at the road and follow it uphill. At the first road intersection (~1700’ elevation), take an abrupt right turn onto the other forest road heading uphill (in a SE direction). Follow that road until its end (~2000’ elevation), the same road-end as mentioned in the standard directions, and then follow the rest of the summit ascent directions from that location.
This alternate variation of the western approach is possibly shorter in distance than the standard route. However, it is also more likely to cause confusion (due to the varied ATV trails) and more likely to have unexpectedly encounters with fast-paced ATVs.