Rock Candy Mountain, at 2356' elevation, is the third-highest officially-named peak in the Black Hills of Washington, located SSW of Puget Sound. The peak is also the fifth-highest named summit in Thurston County. Both a trail and road share its name. But despite its name, the peak is actually more densely forested than rocky. Rock Candy Mountain is also more conical in shape than many of its neighboring peaks and hills.
Rock Candy Mountain, as seen from Capitol Peak
Although not taller than nearby Larch Mountain or Capitol Peak, Rock Candy Mountain might arguably have superior summit views. Larch Mountain has no outward views from its summit due to thick forest cover. Capitol Peak has a couple of areas around its summit from which to see good views. However, the views from Rock Candy Mountain are fairly open and wide-ranging. From the summit of Rock Candy Mountain, Larch Mountain and Fuzzy Top can be seen to the southwest, Buck Ridge (and possibly the Pacific Coast) can be seen to the west, the Olympic Mountains can be seen to the northwest, and Puget Sound and Mount Baker can be seen to the north. From a section of the Rock Candy Mountain Road (C-4700) leading up the east side of the mountain, the Cascade Mountains range and Mount Rainier can be seen to the east, and Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens can be seen to the southeast.
Northwest view towards Olympic Mountains...
FROM THE INTERSECTION OF I-5 AND HIGHWAY 101:
1) Drive west along Highway 101.
2) After 5.5 miles, Highway 101 turns north while the road that continues west is Highway 8. Keep heading west, along Highway 8.
3) After 4.5 more miles (or ten miles after the intersection of I-5 and Highway 101), turn left onto Rock Candy Mountain Road. This is considered the "Rock Candy Entrance" for Capitol Forest, and the Rock Candy Trailhead and parking area is only a short distance up the road.
Rock Candy Trailhead
4) There is a "T" intersection after 2.5 miles along Rock Candy Mountain Road. Turn left at the intersection.
Rock Candy Mountain Road Sign
5) One block away, around a corner, is a road (B-5000) turning south (left), while the road that continues west becomes Buck Ridge Road. Turn left onto B-5000 (which is technically still Rock Candy Mountain Road).
6) There is a "Y" intersection after 3.9 miles along B-5000. Turn left at the intersection, onto C-4700.
7) Within one block, there is a gate.
-> If the gate is open, it is possible to follow the road all the way to the summit. Drive 2.5 miles to where the road splits a short distance below the summit area, then take a right turn and follow for 0.25 miles to the summit.
Following C-4700 around mountain...
-> If the gate is closed, or if a hike is desired, either park at the road intersection (C-4700 and B-5000) and hike along the summit road for 2.75 miles to the summit, or go back to the "Rock Candy Trailhead" and follow the Rock Candy West Trail south for approximately two miles (until on the northeast corner of the peak) and try to locate an old spur trail leading approximately 0.75 miles up (or bushwhack) to the summit's north end. An alternate combination trail-road hike would be to hike the Rock Candy West Trail south for approximately two miles, then ascend to Road C-4700 and follow for approximately one mile to the summit.
If the gate for C-4700 (Rock Candy Mountain summit road) is open, be aware that the gate might be closed at any time. If an automobile is up higher on Rock Candy Mountain at the time the gate is closed, the gate will be reopened (to get the vehicle removed) at the automobile owner's expense.
Beginning during 2011, parking areas and trailheads within and for the Capitol State Forest require a Discover Pass
to be in each vehicle during the visit. Failure to have a Discover Pass
visible within a parked vehicle at these locations can result in a substantial fine. For more information regarding the Discover Pass
, please visit the official website
Technically, no camping is allowed on Rock Candy Mountain. However, rugged campfires have been found on the mountain, especially near the summit area.