Mount Cruiser from Gladys Summit
Mount Gladys is the easy mountain to the west of the rugged Sawtooth subrange of the Olympic Mountains. As such, it provides outstanding views of formidable summits such as Mount Cruiser and Mount Lincoln to the East, and Mounts Henderson and Skokomish to the North.
Gladys is just within the boundaries of Olympic National Park and is an easy hiking objective from a camp at Flapjack Lakes. Being rather easy to reach, it is probably ascended by hundreds of people, and could potentially be crowded despite its 10-mile distance from the nearest road. As the main access point is the Staircase Ranger Station, Gladys is not really practical as a day trip, being about a 20 mile roundtrip. Accordingly, camping at Flapjack Lakes makes sense, and also affords more time to explore the wonderful scenery of the area.
Gladys is really more of a backpacker's or hiker's summit, as a decent trail leads directly to its summit. Since it is ideal for hikers who really don't fancy exposure or white knuckles, climbers in search of more extreme adventures should probably look elsewhere. Gladys is probably ideal as an introductory backpack and scramble for small children, as the access trail is well-maintained and the summit trail is not dangerous in the least.
Mount Cruiser from Gladys Sawtooths from near Gladys Divide
Take US-101 to Hoodsport, turning west to Lake Cushman. Follow the North Fork Skomomish River road to Staircase Ranger station, elevation 800 feet. Hike the Flapjack Lakes Trail through deep forest, reaching Flapjack Lakes in 8 miles (Elevation 4000 feet). Hike the trail further past Flapjack Lakes another 1.5 miles to Gladys Divide at 5000 feet. Turn left (northwest) at the pass and hike easy climber trails to the summit of Mount Gladys, marveling at the precipitous spires of the Sawtooth Range, including the two main summits of Mount Lincoln to the South and Mount Cruiser to the Southwest. The summit itself is a large area composed of both forested outcrops and open, rocky crags with expansive views. To the North are the summits of Mounts Henderson and Skokomish, while to the Northeast, Mount Anderson and the West Peak pop up over a ridge. Way to the Northwest, the icy Olympus massif can be seen.
Red Tape & Camping
Flapjack Lakes Flapjack Lakes
Since the Staircase Ranger Station and Flapjack Lakes lie within Olympic National Park, you will need to pay the entrance fee ($10) to enter Olympic National Park. An interagency pass ($80/annually) will also work to give you access to the park. To camp at Flapjack Lakes, contact Olympic National Park in advance for permits, or permits can probably be obtained at the Staircase Ranger Station. Be advised to hang all food. Bears are a real problem at Flapjack Lakes, and if you keep your food in your tent, you're going to end up with a ripped-up tent. This is one place to take bears very seriously.
Mount Olympus in the Distance Mount Skokomish to the Northeast of Gladys
The closest Ranger Station which can be contacted by phone is the one at Hoodsport. Contact information is:
Hoodsport Ranger Station
P.O Box 68
Hoodsport, WA 98548
For camping and trailhead information, check out the park website at:
Olympic National Park