Hessong Rock, an Irish Cabin Peak located at Mount Rainier National Park is a classic of trail scramble in the Mowich Lake/ Spray Park area of Mount Rainier National Park. This moderately popular summit is an excellent peak for close up views of Mount Rainier as well as excellent views throughout the Cascades. On a clear day not only can you see Mount Rainier but see distant Mount Stuart, Glacier Peak, and Mount Baker along with hundreds of other mountains in this region. The actual rock towards over the scenic open meadows of Spray Park and it looks from many angles like it is going to be either a tough scramble or pure rock climb to get to summit.
But appearances are very disceiving in the mountains and such is the case here with Hessong Rock. To get to this summit only requires an offtrail moderately exposed bootpath that only borderlines Class 2. For the most part this peak is a walkup with only one or two section of scrambling. It should be stated though that this is only the case in late August and September because if you were to attempt this peak an earlier you would encounter a snowfield and would require an ice axe for safe travel across it to get to the summit. After the first snowfall in October footing on the bootpath might get trechorous and you will run into great issues with dropoffs.
To get to Hessong Peak from Mowich Lake you will want to take the well built Spray Park Trail three miles to the the very beginning of Spray Park. Once in Spray Park you will notice a large rocky peak to the left of you and the majestic Mount Rainier to the right of you. Stay on trail until you see a well organized boot path on the left of you. Once on the boot-path take the boot-path all the way to the col between Hessong Rock and Mount Pleasant. At the mark tarn on top of the col make a left on faint bootpath. Go slowly on the bootpath because it is asy to loose it from the col. Follow the bootpath as it go around a scree or snowfield (snowfield on the year I went) and traverse to the right of the rock. It will them turn slowly towards the rock and steepen once again. There is some moderate exposure here Continue to the double summit rocks. I will assume the most west one is the true summit though there is no harm in making it up both summit (20 elevation gain to attain both and little exposure; you would be nuts not to). Head back the way you came or maybe also tag the easier and yet even more beautiful Mount Pleasant on the other side of the col.
Getting ThereVIA THE MOWICH LAKE AND TOLMIE PEAK TRAILHEAD (RECOMMENDED IN SUMMER. KEEP IN MIND THAT THE MOWICH LAKE ROAD IS CLOSED USUALLY TO AT LEAST MAY AND MANY TIMES MUCH LATER!!!!):
Take Route 165 South. It will soon intersect with Route 162. Continue on Route 165 south through the towns of Wilkeson and Carbonado. You then go over an older bridge ove the Carbon River. This bridge is beginning to look unsteady and would not be a good place to be during an earthquake. Roughly a half mile over the bridge you will run into an intersection with one road veering right and head up Mowich Lake Road. You want to head up 17 miles up the road. You will run into the self pay area up at the Paul Peak Trailhead about 11 miles up the road. Don't forget to stop here because there are plenty of ranger at the Lake Mowich Campground and they will ticket you if you don't pay.
Mount Rainier National Park Pass is required at the trailhead. It is $15 for the day and $30 for the year.
Backcountry Permit Required for Camping while in Mount Rainier National Park. For more information please click here
External Links A good trip report on Hessong Rock and other summits in the region
Information on the Backcountry Hiking and Camping at Mount Rainier National Park