Located in the foothills of Mount Rainier lies the Pack Experimental Forest. This is a multiple use conservationist park that was donated by Charles Lathrop Pack back in 1926 to the University of Washington in order to conserve Washington State Forest for many years to come. This park basically contain a group of foothills south of Eatonville and west of Mount Rainier National Park. As time as gone along this park as become more focused on classroom usage and sustainable use. You will see a number of educational areas while at this park.
The Olympics from on the way up Hugo Peak Looking southwest from on the way up Hugo Peak
Hugo Peak is the signature summit of the park. It is the only peak in the park with its own designated trail and near the summit area there are plenty of benches and even a summit register. The one small view north through the trees is somewhat disappointing but there are some better views off to the Olympics from the trail while you are hiking up to Hugo Peak. It should be noted that though this is the signature peak at 120 feet of prominence it technically is truly even a summit by Washington State standards. Still it is worth visiting and the trail up s a good change of pace from most of the dirt road which seem to run throughout the park. The highest peak in the park Pack Forest Highpoint
is further south and east and it can be link with Hugo Peak.
Token view from just feet from the summit The true summit
FROM TACOMA, WASHINGTON: Take Route 7 south from Tacoma. Stay on the road until you are about a half mile south of Highway 161. Make a left at the very well marked Pack Experimental Forest Entrance Area. You can either park right by the entrance and pick up the Hugo Peak Trail there or drive up a half mile by making the next right and heading up to a park and classroom area where a side path will lead you right to the Hugo Peak Trail. I preferred here because it is a little ways away from the highway.
The Hugo Peak Trail
Hugo Peak Trail
is the signture trail it seems in the park it goes all the way from Highway 7 to the summit of Hugo Peak in 2.5 miles. The trail alternates grade between moderate and steeper grades but is never overwhelming through its journey. The best views are actually halfway up the trail as there is n open field looking off to both the west and the south. The trail is in good condition and seems to be regularly maintained.
Hiking at the park is free and is from dawn to dusk 7 days a week.
When to Climb
The summit fields in summer
This hike is doable at any time of the year. That being said I went here in September largely because my friend and I were feeling very ill and tired from the week and were looking for something that was not very tiring. Honestly though the views were decent and we had a good time save this hike for either a shoulder season or winter when conditions in the higher mountains don't look so good.
Camping is prohibited on the trails. However there is designated accommodations within the park. Check out information on the Conference Center Website