The summit of Scout Patrol Peak
Scout Patrol Peak is yet another obscure peak in the normally hiking busy I-90 corridor. Located on the north side of the Cedar Creek Watershed Scout Patrol Peak does not nearly see the same amount of attention that nearby summits in the region such as McClellan Butte does. In fact there is a forest road that comes within 200 feet of the summit of Scout Patrol Peak and the mountain is covered with clear-cuts. Though this mountain can be done at anytime, it is best saved for winter due to brush, clearcuts, third growth forest and the fact that it is a roadwalk by easiest route.
The northern ridge
But in winter Scout Patrol Peak is a very worthwhile snowshoe. It's northern ridge has excellent views of Granite Mountain, Bandera, Defiance and many of the summits on the northern side of I-90. The mountain also features a nice view of Rainier and a good view of Silver, Bearscout, and Abiel. In summer these views might be compromised by all the clear-cuts but in winter this summit is definitely worthwhile in terms of views.
Looking south at the southwestern ridge.
As stated the easiest way up to the summit of Scout Patrol Peak is by the continuation of the Hansen Creek Road Past the newly emerging Hansen Creek Trailhead. This road is gated off but sometimes locals will drive 4x4 truck to the side of the gate and continue to the foot of the mountain. Most of the time this is not the case, but at least when I was there this did happen. The area around the peak is also home to X-skiing, and there is often rifle shooting along the Hansen Creek Road. During the Christmas Season this road is often used by 4x4's in order to go up and get Christmas Trees. From what I can gather from the three time being up there, be prepared for any kind of traffic if you are going to use the Hansen Creek Road. The last 200 feet up to Scout Patrol Peak will be a partially tree-covered 25-30 degree snow-climb along the ridge to the summit. It can sometimes be windblown and icy which was the case when I was there.
Scout Patrol Peak is in the foreground.
A couple things to note if snowshoeing or snow-climbing to the summit. There are some open areas due to clearcutting and some of the areas are avalanche prone. The first is that the vegetation here off the road tends to be third growth, seedlings or brush, making for off-trail travel in the lower elevations tedious at best. Though road might be longer that shortcutting the amount of work needed is going to be much more. There looks to be some potential for a decent snowclimb on the eastern side of the mountain if the avalanche danger is low. I have yet to explore this route but might look into it on further travels.
The last little bit of climb before the summit of Scout Patrol Peak
Map of the Route
This is the Standard Route to the summit
Get off of Exit 47, the same exit that the more popular trailhead such as Granite Peak are located. Make a right when heading of the ramp. Head down the road roughly 300 yards. Once you run into the T-intersection make a right and head west the road is a dirt road but as of 2011 the road is in very good condition. Stay on the road for roughly a mile. From there make a left onto another well established dirt road know as the Hansen Creek Road. From there take that road roughly 3 miles. You will pass the parking section for Humpback and then another dirt road along the way. The road will head south and be on the eastern side of Hansen Creek for most of the way. Take all the way to the marked tralhead located at the foot of Little Saint Helens. It should be noted that this road only passable in winter by a 4x4 and Hummer in winter and is many times not passable after a major storm.
No Red Tape here. Be prepared though to be sharing the parking with those who practice fire arms in region here. Also in December a lot of people will take this road up to cut down their Christmas trees so be aware of this. Traffic actually will come up this road many time during the snow season. I have yet to really figure out why! That being said the people I ran into tend to be quiet respectful of hikers.
Camping is legal provided there is no tresspassing of the watershed.
External Links Some more information about this mountain"
Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center