Summit View Running The Howard Mastiff Ridge
Mount Mastiff is located on Nason Ridge, one mile east of Mount Howard
. Nason Ridge, east of Stevens Pass is flanked on the south by Nason Creek and on the north by Rainy Creek, the Little Wenatchee River, and Lake Wenatchee. The rock on Mastiff is a types of gneiss. Different routes to the summit involve a combination of minor scrambling, bushwhacking, and abundant talus crossing. Perks along the way include lovely alpine lakes with camping, fishing, and swimming options. Most people who aim for the summit of Mastiff also do a combination with Howard.
RoutesMerrit Lake Approach
Starting at 3000 feet, climb 2000 feet in 2.5 miles to Merrit Lake. Then begin the long traverse over to Crescent Lake. At the head of Crescent Lake ascend through scree slopes to the ridge top between Howard and Mastiff. Follow the ridge top to the summit staying as close to it as safely possible to avoid small dense trees.
Rock Lake Approach
The Rock Lake trail is relentlessly steep. It ascends 3400 feet in 4 miles in countless switchbacks. At an almost level plain follow a trail east along a loose slope and around the ridge separating Crescent Lake from Rock Lake and then drop 300 feet to Crescent Lake. From Crescent Lake, walk around the NE side and ascend the slope due north while skirting trees and groups of slide alder.
There is a formidable looking rock band half way up the slope. Thankfully are several class 2 or 3 gullies that lead up through it. Choose the one that that looks best and continue up to a large bench. From there, make an ascending traverse eastward to the southeast ridge of Mount Howard and find a point where you are able to descend over the ridge to the saddle between Howard and Mastiff. Follow the ridge top to the summit staying as close to it as safely possible to avoid small dense trees.
Snowy Creek Approach
This is the longest and most difficult approach (see the note below). From Snowy Creek follow the trail for 2 miles through dense forest to a small open meadow at 4600 feet. As you can see in this photograph
looking down at the meadow, many large sections of trail were wiped out by an avalanche in 2009. Look for a small piece of flagging hanging for a tree branch. Cross over the log pile and the trail will be on the other side. Soon after there are a couple of damaged sections. At these points always skirt to the left.
Breaking out of the trees, the trail ascends in unnecessarily easy swithcbacks to the top of the south ridge of Rock Mountain
. At the junction, the left trail leads to the summit of Rock Mountain and the right trail leads down to Rock Lake. Descend to Rock Lake and refer to the Rock Lake approach above for the remainder of the route.
*NOTE* If you choose the Snowy Creek approach, assuming you want to bag all three summits, Rock, Howard, and Mastiff, you should know that this is no easy undertaking. At 15 miles and 7700 feet of vertical gain, make sure you are fully prepared and in excellent physical condition before you start. See the numbers below for approximate gain and loss
3847' car to rock summit
1563' crescent lake to howard summit
641' ridge saddle to mastiff
600' ridge saddle to howard south ridge
1050' crescent lake to rock south ridge
Whether driving east or west, all three approaches begin with US Highway 2.
Merrit Lake Approach
The Merritt Lake trail head is 3 miles east of the Rock Lake trail head. Both turnoffs are marked with small brown US Forest Service signs right at the point you must turn so use caution and avoid slamming on the brakes if you have someone tailgating behind you. Use the mileages to watch for the signs and turn off well ahead of time! The trail head located at 3000 feet is i mile beyond the turnoff.
Rock Lake Approach
The Rock Lake trail head is 8.2 miles east of Stevens Pass or 11.7 miles west of Coles Corner (the turnoff to Lake Wenatchee, when coming from the east). The sign and space for parking for the Rock Lake trail head is a few hundred yards past the turnoff. The power line maintenance road continues and should not be closed. It is rough and steep. If you want to save time and distance you will need a high clearance vehicle preferably a truck. There are several places to park along the way. Park anywhere on the road between 2650 and 2800 feet.
Snowy Creek Approach
From Highway 2, approximately 5 miles east of Stevens Pass, soon after the east and westboud lanes separate, take a left on Smithbrook Road #6700. Continue to follow 6700 for 13.4 miles over a pass and beyond the Rainy Pass trail. The trailhead will be on your right next to Snowy Creek.
The Rock Lake and Snowy Creek trail heads do not require a Northwest Forrest Pass but the Merritt Lake trail head does. Camping is allowed in the area and there are plenty of good campsites at each of the four alpine lakes.