Mt. Pugh shows up as Pugh Mountain on the topo map. But I can assure you as I have been assured (by the USGS) that Mt. Pugh is the correct form (although the local Native Americans would rather it be Da Klagwats). The next go-round of cartographic fun will correct this error. Yes, the USGS is not infallible. And neither am I. So let me try and describe this peak without messing up...
Mt. Pugh is the big bulky thorn protruding from a long, snaking branch of Glacier Peak
. Okay, that's not right. Not really. Really, Pugh is the western endpoint of the high ridge connecting to Kololo Peaks
. In the middle of the this ridge is Black Mountain (7,242 ft)--the next-higher peak east of Pugh and the peak that holds Pugh's 2801 feet of prominence. Black is nine miles to Pugh's ESE. Kololo is 12 miles to the ESE. Glacier Peak is 10 miles to the east. The nearest sizable town is Darrington 12 miles to the northwest. Pugh is bounded on the north by the White Chuck River, on the east by Pugh Creek, and on the west by the Sauk River.
With a mountain as high and lofty as Pugh you'd expect a fair acreage of glaciation on its flanks given its position west of the Cascade crest and in the "rain belt." And yet there are no sizable glaciers. I have a few theories but I'm not expert, so I'll spare you my surmises. Besides, there is one small glacier. It doesn't have an official name but it might be called the Straight Glacier. It occupies a fault that bisects the mountain. This is the Straight Creek Fault (picture
). Anyone who has climbed Pugh (by the standard trail route) has crossed this fault. But not all would be aware of it. The fault runs for several miles north and south of Pugh. Five miles to the north on the far side of Rat Trap Pass is Straight Creek. On Pugh itself, the fault divides the mountain into two distinct rock types: gneisose quartz diorite on the east and south and greenschist on the west. The former rock is more suitable for climbing on than the latter.
A few miles to the east is a stratovolcano and I'm not speaking of Glacier Peak in this case. Am I bonkers? Yes, but I am making a valid point. Scientists believe that Round Lake three miles to the ESE is the "crater" of an ancient stratovolcano that once towered as high as any presently in the Cascades. Obviously, it has long since eroded away. Round Lake is surrounded by a wide arc of breccia on its east side. In fact, the highpoint of this arc is known was Breccia Peak (picture
The summit once possessed a lookout but it is now gone. The presence of a lookout is not surprising given the view. There is a trail initially built in the early 20th Century that is used to access the former lookout site. I believe this trail has the largest vertical gain in Washington for a trail that goes all the way to the true summit. It's something like 5,300 ft of gain. It may seem like a long way but it's a good trail to Stujack Pass and from there quite solid through any scrambling sections encountered. You can thank the hard work of Harry Bedal and Nels Skaar for the construction of the trail through the rockier sections. Even the summit itself had to be seriously reworked to prop a lookout building atop (the lookout started out as merely a tent). Now, with the lookout gone, the summit is a half-court-sized flat square. A solitary 10-ft boulder
at the perimeter of this square must be "scaled" to claim the true highest point. Fortunately this is a mere formality.
The mountain is named for John Pugh. He settled at the base of the mountain in the 1890s.
The first ascent was probably by Nels Bruseth in 1916.
Information from scot'teryx
From Seattle take I-5 North to Exit 208 to Highway 530 East to Arlington. Follow Highway for 32 miles to the intersection with Mountain Loop Highway in Darrington. Turn right and follow the road for about 12.6 miles. Look for sign "Mt. Pugh Trail" and turn left on the road #2095. Continue for 1.5 mile to the trailhead on the right side of the road. There are several parking spots along left side of the road.
Trail # 644
5.2 miles one way
Trailhead Elevation: 1900 ft
Summit Elevation: 7201 ft
Region: Darrington Ranger District
Maps: USGS Pugh Mt.
Darrington Ranger District Map
Permits: Northwest Forest Pass is required
After finding the trailhead, start in old dense forest that climbs up to the first good resting spot. Maintain a moderate pace of 2 mph and you will be able to use your reserve for the climb up to Stujack Pass and above the lake. After one hour you can reach Metan Lake which is about 1.5 miles up the trail. Contunue up the trail by going left around the lake. There are a few spots for water before the lake, and that is the only place to get water of you did not pack in enough. Continue up switchbacks that are graded low but long and traverse forever. They could have made these steeper to take some mileage off this climb. The actual hill is very steep though, just moderate switchbacks. After 2 miles you reach the base of Stujack Pass. There are a few spots to camp here. Continue through the meadows up the steep hill and listen for all the Marmots. Once at the Pass, a great Vista is your reward (5700 feet). Continue up the trail heading towards the summit. The ridge that you ascend has some spots of exposure, but the trail is pretty good. Once at the base of the summit, you have about 1000 vertical feet to scramble up Class 3 grades, then you hit steep switchbacks inbetween some spots. There were only a few spots that were tricky, as it was flat slab Granite with water and small gravel with dropoffs of 1000 plus feet. There are some great handholds though, so it makes up for it. Once at the summit, your treated with 360 degree views of Mt Baker, Glacier Peak, Sloan Peak, Mt Forgotten, Pilchuck, etc..
Additional trail information can be found here
Permits: Northwest Forest Pass is required. Hopefully the need for the pass will go away in the future (the trailhead isn't much of a "trailhead" just a pull out on the logging road).
When To Climb
Season: July - October
Information from scot'teryx
Camping spots at Metan Lake (mile 1.5), Base of Stujack Pass (mile 3.5), at the ridge of Stujack Pass on the way to the summit is a sweet spot that had a firepit, and it was shielded from the wind as well!, then it appeared that there were about 3 sites on the summit.
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