South Point from the road
Ok, with a name as boring as South Point this peak must be lame. On this peak you don't want to judge a peak by its name. South Point is a mere 60 feet from showing up on every prominence peakbaggers' list. With 1940 feet of prominence South Point surely stands above the crowd. But because South Point does not have 2000 feet of prominence and it is over three hours drive times from Seattle and Portland this peak does not see the traffic, peaks with less prominence and worse views tend to get. All it requires to summit South Point is an enjoyable 7.5 mile 3200 feet of elevation gain hike that is well paced and easy to navigate. Ideal this peak is good for a fit notice. And the best part is that most people who hike this mountain tend to have it all to themselves.
South Point from Hamilton Butte
What makes this peak special is the view from the summit. On a clear day South Point has a commanding view of the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams. Mount Saint Helens is also visible in the west. Also you have views of many of the other peaks in the region. The view alone would bring lots of hiking traffic, but this peak is in Washington State so therefore it is sidelined by many of other special summits in the state. I unfortunately was not so lucky as of this writing and I know that I was robbed a world class view. My advise is to save this peak for a sunny day.
Looking over at Castle Butte
Looking over at Smith Ridge
The summit of South Ridge
Looking east from the ridge
Getting ThereVIA THE SOUTH POINT TRAILHEAD:
Take Highway 12 4 miles west from the small town of Packwood. You will see a somewhat poorly signed road off to your south (Forest Road 20). The itself is in decent condition and outside a couple potholes is very doable in a simple passenger car as of 2015. Take the road 4.9 miles which will be just passed a meadow in a high valley. You will see a trailhead on the left. Pull out on the other side of the road. There is no formal parking area but there is a pull out on the opposite side.
Map of the Route
The easiest way up this mountain is a very nice well graded trail that is 7.5 miles round-trip and 3200 feet of elevation gain. This trail up is in good shape and is easy to follow. The footing is also very good on this trail and I find this trail to be a good trip for a fit novice hiker.
Road will likely be closed in winter. Otherwise this trail has no red tape.
When to Climb
Technically this peak can be done anytime but ideally one would want to do this hike from June to late October or just before the first major snow of the season
. In winter the road may be closed adding up 5 more miles one way and 2000 feet of elevation gain to your trip. You will also want to carry snowshoes and an ice axe with the trail route covered in snow. I would not advise the extra effort here. The big thing here is to go up this peak on a clear day!!!
The only ideal spot I would camp here is the summit but you would have to bring your own water. Keep an eye on the weather because Josh Lewis and I were chased away by thunderstorms. If you continue to drive up Forest Road 20 you can go all the way to Jack Pass Lake which has a good primitive camping area.
External LinksSouth Point Peakbagger Page.