Enchantments from Johnson Summit
Johnson Mountain is the widely accepted if not completely official name of Point 5220 south of Malcolm Mountain in the Teanaway area of Washington's Eastern Cascade Mountains. It is a rocky, pointy perch atop a ridge which has the advantage of providing very early seasonal access. While other mountains are deep in snow, Johnson Mountain can offer a nice alpine trip as early as April, and easily by May of the highest snow years, without having to take along snowshoes or skis. As such, Johnson is primarily an early spring objective, as it it can become quite hot in this area in mid-summer.
Johnson Mountain, not being a particularly difficult objective, is often combined with a scramble of Malcolm Mountain, a slightly higher (officially named) peak about one mile north on the same ridge. Being overshadowed by its higher cousin, Johnson is probably not climbed all that much, and going early in the season will almost certainly guarantee that you will have the summit to yourself.
Medra Pass-Johnson Creek Junction Climbing to Ridge Sidehilling along ridge Stuart from Johnson
Johnson Mountain has the advantage of having two major approach routes. It can be accessed from either the North or the South. The South route, from Jungle Creek, has the advantage of melting out much earlier than the North route, which is via Johnson Creek and the North Fork Teanaway River Road. Unfortunately, as of the writing of this route description (July 2009), the road to the Jungle Creek trail has been washed out and is not an option.
Drive I-90 East from Seattle to exit 85, taking a left off of the ramp, and going north (right) onto SR-970. Follow this road about 5 miles until the Teanaway River Road appears on your left. Take this road about 13 miles until you come to 29 Pines Campground. Here the road will fork. For the Jungle Creek access, take the left fork. Take the road about 2 miles until you see the trailhead for the Jungle Creek trail (Trail #1383.1) on your right. Park here and hike the trail 2.2 miles until you reach the pass and the junction with the Johnson Creek Trail at 4500 feet.
For the Johnson Creek access, take the right fork onto the North Fork Teanaway River Road, bypassing the Stafford Creek Road, and arriving at the trailhead for Johnson Creek-Medra Pass (Trail #1383) in about four miles. Hike Trail #1383 for 3/4 of a mile, and at the junction with Trail #1383.1, take the left fork until meeting up at the pass with the Jungle Creek Trail. From this point, both approaches follow the same route.
Go West on the ridge, following a well-worn path about one mile (4800 feet). At this point, you have traversed under Johnson Mountain and are at a col on its west shoulder. Leave the trail here, and scramble east over loose rocks to a pointy summit 400 feet higher. Be sure to stay on top of the ridge at all times. Following stray game trails will get you into loose scree and shale slopes that can be somewhat hazardous. Trip Stats: About 7 miles round trip via either directions (a little longer via Johnson Creek), about 2,200 feet elevation gain, Class 1 and 2.
Summit of Johnson Summit of Johnson
A Northwest Trail Park Pass ($5 daily, $30 annually) is required to park at either trailhead. As mentioned, the Jungle Creek Trailhead is currently not accessible by vehicle. Otherwise, this trip lies within unprotected area, and no other permits are required.
Some camping is possible along Johnson Creek, but otherwise, this is a very dry area and camping is not really practical unless it is early season and there are snowbanks for melting water.
TOPO! Software Image Downclimbing from Summit
The closest year-round Forest Service ranger station is in Cle Elum, about 30 miles from Snoqualmie Pass. Contact information:
Cle Elum Ranger District
West 2nd Street
Cle Elum, WA 98922
Snow conditions are available from the Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Areas (of which Alpental is one) at the following website:
Summit at Snoqualmie Snow Conditions
Also, webcams are available from the Washington State Department of Transportation at: Snoqualmie Pass Web Cam