Reynolds Peak is a high, horned mountain in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness located six miles northeast of the northern end of Lake Chelan. With over 2,000 feet of prominence and a measure of solitude in relation to peaks at least as high as it is, the mountain is an important landmark in the area. There is no higher peak within an eight-mile radius. Oval Peak
to the southeast is the next-higher peak. If you look for Reynolds, you can usually see it. Even so, it's not a well known mountain.
As stated, the peak has two summits that appear like the horns of a helmet when viewed from certain angles (like from Gardner Mountain). In 1882, Lt. Henry H. Pierce gave it a name of "Cathedral Mountain" because the mountain's structure reminded him of a quaint temple of worhip. Between the two summits in an eastern cirque is the remnants of a glacier, one of easternmost glaciers in the range. The small glacier (if you can call it that) cradled under the east side of Mt. Lago
is considered the easternmost in the range. There are cliffs on both of Reynolds' summits, but the terrain is generally negotiable for a class-3 trek. The south summit is highest. The north summit is triangulated at 8,384 ft.
There are three main options for approaching the peak. The first option is to approach via Reynolds Creek on the east. The second is to ascend from Stehekin on the shores of Lake Chelan via War Creek Pass and Lone Mountain. The last option is to take the trail east up Boulder Creek from Stehekin Valley Road.
Option 1 -- East Route
Drive to the small town of Twisp in the Methow Valley (note: Methow is pronounced "Met-ow", the aitch is silent). In town, go west on the Twisp River Road for 18.8 miles to Mystery Campground. At the campground, go across the river on FR-3423. Take FR-3423 west about 1.25 miles to a junction on the left. Go left and drive a little further to the trailhead (c. 3,100 ft). The trail follows Reynolds Creek on its north. You could conceivably follow the trail for 6.6 miles to the divide one mile northwest of the summit. You could go that way if you wanted to do a traverse over the lower north summit first. Since I haven't seen the NW side of the North Summit, I will not conjecture as to terrain problems. It looks steep on maps. Instead, two proven routes are to follow the "South Fork" of Reynolds Creek to the south side of the main summit or to climb up the cirque between the summits.
Route 1a (South Fork Reynolds Creek):
On the trail, not many approach views of Reynolds can be had except for fleeting glimpses through the trees. At about 2.5 miles (c. 4,700 ft), the trail will cross an open area. You should be able to descry a major valley coming in on the left. This is the South Fork. Head up the trail maybe a third-mile farther (c. 4,760 ft) to when you are opposite the incoming valley. Leave the trail, descend to the creek, cross it, and head south up into the valley. The bushwhacking averages BW2 near the creek crossing but lightens up as you get into the valley. From my experience in the South Fork valley, it is best to stay on the east side of the creek. I even found tagging on the trees and what wanted to be a trail (probably a game trail). About 1.2 miles into the valley (c. 5,500 ft), the terrain around the creek becomes semi-open but boggy. Eventually, the major part of the valley heads in a basin interspersed with brush patches. At 5,600 ft where the trees end, you could make a beeline to the summit on a westerly bearing (I came down this way; minor cliffs easily circumambulated) or ascend through a narrow ravine to the upper basin (c. 6,700 ft) 0.6 miles SSE of the summit. This upper basin is picturesque but not as direct. From the basin, it is a scree and talus slog up to the summit rocks. A short class-3 scramble through these rocks gets you on the summit. There was a register in September 2001.
Route 1b (Eastern Cirque):
Take the trail about 3.5 miles to 5,100 ft. Leave the trail, cross the creek, and bear SSW into the minor "valley" forming between the lower east ridges of the south (main) and north summits. It is best to stay on the right (northwest) side to avoid brush on the other (southeast). At around 6,400 ft, the trees and brush will end to open up into the lower basin. Up above on the left will be the summit. Now, you could climb all the way up to the saddle between the peaks (minor ice issues) then turn left to find a class 3/4 gully leading up to the summit. Or, an easier route would be to mount the East Ridge of the Main Summit at the small saddle west of Pt. 7038. Continue up the East Ridge or just to the right of the crest to avoid crags. A gash in the ridge occurs a couple hundred feet below the top. Ascend through this (class 3 probably) then on to the summit. Round trip this climb will take most of a day and ~5,500+ ft vertical gain.
Option 2 -- War Creek Pass Route
This is an extremely long route entailing over 10,000 feet of total gain. As such, it's probably best done as a two day climb with a camp near War Creek Pass or Lone Mountain.
From near the boat dock at Stehekin (c. 1,200 ft), the Purple Creek Trail ascends first to Purple Pass (6,880+ ft) in 7.4 miles then crosses the head of Fourmile Creek to reach War Creek Pass (6,760+ ft) in 7.8 miles. At this point, a trail not shown on USGS maps junctions off to the left and follows the divide north for about 1.4 miles to Pt. 7484 whereupon it leaves the divide and descends on a spur ridge directly to Lone Mountain (6,715 ft). This part of the trail coincides with the Boulder Creek Trail (see next route option). The trail leaves Lone Mountain and descends to the creek, crossing it at around 5,500 ft at about where a stream comes in from the right (east) in the basin between the Reynolds Peak at upper left and Camels Hump on the right. Follow this stream up to Reynolds, completing the summit rocks via either the south (class 3) or northwest (class 3/4) side. A descent via Boulder Creek is certainly feasible. Once back to Stehekin Valley Road just south of Rainbow Falls, you'll have to hitch a ride for the three miles or so back to Stehekin.
Option 3 -- Boulder Creek Route
About three miles north of town on Stehekin Valley Road the Rainbow Creek Trail starts (c. 1,160 ft). Take the Rainbow Creek Trail for 1.5 miles almost to where it crosses Rainbow Creek above Rainbow Falls (c. 2050 ft). The Boulder Creek Trail junctions off to the right and ascends north of the creek to the upper basin in the vicinity of Lone Mountain. It is maybe seven miles to 5,500 ft. At ~5,500 ft a stream comes in from the left (east). This stream drains the basin between the west sides of the south (Main) summit of Reynolds and Camels Hump. Follow this stream up to Reynolds, completing the summit rocks via either the south (class 3) or northwest (class 3/4) side. A descent directly back to Stehekin can be made via War Creek Pass and the Purple Creek Trail (see Option 2
The east side of the divide (east of Reynolds Peak's summit) is within the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, so standard wilderness policy applies there. The west side of the divide is within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. I'm not sure what the policies are there, but who cares? Just don't do whatever illicit thing you're thinking about doing: like campfires if they're not allowed.
When To Climb
The eastside routes could be good spring ski routes. Other than that, this is a May to October kind of destination
The East Route can be done in a day so the trailhead (or at nearby Mystery Campground) is the place to camp. For the westside routes, a camp near War Creek Pass or Lone Mountain seem feasible. There are no official campgrounds on the way to the peak.
Stehekin Weather Forecast
Views from the Mountain, Part I
Views from the Mountain, Part II
Views from the Mountain, Part III