The West Face Of Baldy, September 2005
Starting Elevation:3600 feet
Summit Elevation: 6808 feet
Total Gain: ~3400 feet
Round Trip Distance: 9 miles
Baldy is located on Gray Wolf Ridge
flanked on the northwest side by the Gray Wolf River and on the southeast side by the Dungeness. Baldy, located between Gray Wolf and Peak B
, also shares the ridge with Maynard Peak and Tyler Peak to the north and Mount Walkinshaw, Mount Clark, The Needles, and Mount Deception
to the south. Baldy is the closest neighbor to Gray Wolf and most people who do Baldy also do Gray Wolf although this adds a considerable amount to elevation gain and loss. Another popular alternative would be to combine Baldy with Peak B and Tyler Peak. Views from the summit towards of Mount Constance, Warrior Peak, Mount Deception, and The Needles are striking and well worth the effort.
1) The upper Maynard Burn trail
begins in the Olympic National Park and crosses over into the Buckhorn Wilderness. From the parking area, proceed beyond the dirt barrier following the direction of the road. After the stream crossing, you have a choice to make. You can follow the road for 1.7 miles across boggy patches to the base of the southeast ridge of Baldy. The unmarked trail then makes an abrupt ascent of a steep bank on the left which could be a trick to find. When I was there, it was marked by two logs across the road. The more direct option is to continue along the road beyond the stream crossing for only a quarter mile. Watch for a steep trail leading up to the right. Follow this trail to where it intersects the road again, higher up.
From either way you should reach the point where the two logs mark the junction. The next 2 miles ascends 2600 feet. The path follows a cat track for a time which was cut by the forest service as a fire barrier. Around 5400 feet there is a substantial flat spot large enough for a couple of tents. This used to be a helicopter pad. For the last mile the incline becomes more gradual and the path ascends above the tree line. The path becomes sporadic after this point as the new growth of grass covers the slope. Continue to ascend, traversing a bowl, until you reach the saddle between Baldy and Peak B. From here, crossing over a high point, it is not far to Baldy.
2) Park at the upper Maynard Burn trail head parking area. Rather than proceeding beyond the dirt blockade, follow the faint path (old Baldy trail
) that cuts immediately up and to the right. The first mile the path ascends steeply in a northwesterly direction with few switchbacks. The second mile begins with a gradual leveling of and the occasional loss of a couple vertical feet. There will be a small trickle of a stream crossing. Be careful to remember where you crossed because the path becomes sporadic after this point. Ascend north climbing scree slopes and grass until you reach the upper alpine meadows. Below the summit of Peak B, follow the ridge line over the a high point on the ridge to the summit of Baldy.
A combination of options 1 and 2 will make for a nice loop. Competent navigation skills are a must.
The following direction will take you to the beginning of either of the two route options. From the Hood Canal bridge drive west 13.5 miles to Highway 101. Turn right (north) and follow 101 for 16 miles to the turn off on the left for Louella Road. After one mile, turn left at the T onto Palo Alto Road and proceed for another 6 miles. Bear right at the junction marked as Forrest Road 2880. The road descends steeply to a crossing of the Dungeness River. A mile beyond the river crossing proceed left onto Forrest Road 2870 and continue to follow signs for 2870, bearing right at the next fork in 2.6 miles. After the last fork continue on 2860-120 for 6.5 miles to a wide parking area and dirt barrier blocking the road. Watch for fallen rocks laying in this last stretch of the road.
Quilcene Ranger Station