Forested Summit Hill
San Juan Hill is a peak located within the northeastern side of the "Sky Peaks Region" of Wild Sky Wilderness of Washington State. Unlike most peaks in the Wild Sky Wilderness, an old logging road leads most of the way up slopes of San Juan Hill. The road does not reach the summit, however, which makes the summit route be a mixture of road-walking and forest bushwhacking.
San Juan Hill was named by early settlers in the area. For whatever reason, many miners and prospectors in the Pacific Northwest widely loved the tales of Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish American War. This is evident by multiple other Roosevelt and San Juan references given to landmarks in western Washington. The Snohomish County peak was so-named to commemorate Roosevelt's famous charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba.
With its eastern base located at Jack Pass, a very popular driving destination along Forest Road 65, San Juan Hill surprisingly has few visitors on its slopes. Although the mountain can look ugly from Forest Road 65, due to large areas of clearcut logging, this might be the easiest and most straight-forward peak to summit in the entire Wild Sky Wilderness of those peaks that do not have established summit trails. The mountain is not overly technical, with the standard eastern summit approach being mostly YDS Class 1 with some Class 2. The mountain can be summited during any month of the year, during most weather conditions.
A Northern View
San Juan Hill has a lot of thick forests, occasionally with some old-growth trees, including at the summit area. But despite a forested summit limiting views, the mountain is not at all devoid of outstanding views. Along the upper ridgeline, especially from the northern highpoint (approximately 4750' elevation, located at coordinates 47.866417 -121.3367), there are wonderful views of other Wild SKy Wilderness peaks, including Bear Mountain and Spire Mountain, and the various Monte Cristo peaks and Glacier Peak. Some people might even suggest the views of the Monte Cristo peaks from the upper ridgeline of San Juan Hill are the best of such views. Along the eastern slopes of San Juan Hill, especially in clearcut areas and along forest roads, there are great views of other Wild Sky Wilderness peaks such as Frog Mountain, Excelsior Mountain, Silica Mountain, Evergreen Mountain, and Mount Fernow.
San Juan Hill Summit
Easily accessible Jack Pass (2580' elevation), the standard starting point for climbing San Juan Hill, is located at the eastern base of the mountain, at the northern intersection of Forest Road 65 and Forest Road 6570. The key to summiting San Juan Hill is to ascend Forest Road 6570, as it switchbacks up the eastern slopes of the mountain. Forest Road 6570 reaches its highest traverse at around 4200’ elevation, nearly 700’ elevation lower than the summit. From this top stretch of road, travelers than bushwhack up the final steep forested slope to the summit. As an alternate route, some travelers might choose to shorten the overall summit route by bypassing different sections of switchbacks along Forest Road 6570. This alternate option might be best recommended during snowy ascents.
The total hiking distance from Jack Pass to the summit (4895’ elevation) of San Juan Hill is approximately 4.0 miles one-way if following Forest Road 6570 to its closest location to the summit before a forested climb to the summit, or approximately 2.5 miles one-way if bypassing the Forest Road 6570 switchbacks by steeply climbing the steep forested eastern slopes to the summit.
1) Drive along Highway 2 until reaching Beckler Road, just 0.6 miles east of the town of Skykomish.
2) Follow Beckler Road north for 12.3 miles to Jack Pass.
3) Several Forest Roads (FR-6500, FR-6550, FR-6570) intersect at Jack Pass. Find a place to park in the open area at Jack Pass, making certain not to block or obstruct any of the intersecting roads.
As a result of no official route or trailhead for San Juan Hill no Northwest Forest Pass (Parking Permit) is officially required, but the use of one is highly recommended so any vehicles do not appear abandoned when parked at or near Jack Pass.
Please note that Forest Road 6500 is not continually snow-plowed during winter months. If uncertain of road conditions, check with the Skykomish Ranger Station or U.S. Forest Service website in advance of the trip.
Backcountry camping is allowed within Wild Sky Wilderness, including on San Juan Hill. No campfires are allowed.
Reference Green Trails Map #143 ("Monte Cristo"), for approximate location of San Juan Hill.