Sunrise Mountain is an alpine peak located on the eastern side of the Wild Sky Wilderness
of Washington State. Most hikers typically characterize this mountain as nothing more than an officially-named bump or hill along the Johnson Ridge Trail, and most hikers might not even realize they are traversing over an actual mountaintop while on that trail. In fact, it might surprise many people that Sunrise Mountain actually has over 300' of prominence, so it certainly is more than just a tiny bump along the trail. Also, reaching the summit requires ascending 1400' elevation in only two miles. But let's be clear: There is nothing extravagant about this peak. The summit is simply passed while en route to better destinations Scorpion Mountain and Joan Lake, located near the end of Johnson Ridge Trail. However, this is a great training hike destination for amateur hikers and people with low fitness levels.
Steep Eastern Slope
Access to the peak is most commonly achieved via Johnson Ridge Trail #1067
. The trail traverses through sub-alpine forests to the summit of Sunrise Mountain and beyond. The trailhead of Johnson Ridge Trail #1067 has a starting elevation of 3600'. The route to the summit of Sunrise Mountain is approximately two miles each way. The first mile switchbacks, and steadily gains elevation, through an abandoned logging area on the western edge of Johnson Ridge. The second mile traverses through old-growth and second-growth Douglas fir forest, still steadily gaining elevation.
Young Forest Near Summit
After climbing up the upper western slope of Sunrise Mountain, the trail levels near the summit. There is a sub-alpine meadow of huckleberries, heather, and stunted trees surrounding the summit area. The actual summit (5056') is in an open area to the right of the trail, and is the obvious highest point located halfway along Johnson Ridge Trail. The open area of the summit provides a great place to take photos and have a snack. On clear days, there are great views of the Rapid River Valley to the north.
Small Summit Meadow
Most travelers continue following Johnson Ridge Trail #1067 beyond the Sunrise Mountain summit, traveling to nearby Scorpion Mountain
and Joan Lake
. The eastern slope of Sunrise Mountain is very steep, making an excellent workout for hiking legs as the trail descends several hundred feet before ascending up the western slopes of Scorpion Mountain.
Driving directions for Sunrise Mountain (Johnson Ridge Trail #1067):
1) Drive Highway 2 to Beckler River Road (also known as Forest Road 65).
This intersection is approximately 1/2-mile east of Skykomish and 1/2-mile west of the Skykomish Ranger Station.
2) Head north on Beckler River Road/ Forest Road 65. Follow for approximately seven miles.
3) Turn right (u-turn) onto Forest Road #6520.
This intersection is at an open area on the rightside of the road, just prior to the one-way bridge crossing Rapid River.
NOTE: Forest Road #6530 is also at this intersection (but follows Rapid River upstream), while Forest Road #6520 is a right u-turn (heading uphill).
4) Follow Forest Road #6520 for seven miles to the trailhead for Johnson Ridge.
A Northwest Forest Pass (parking permit) is required. A Northwest Forest Pass can be purchased from the Skykomish Ranger Station or any REI store in Washington State. A day-use pass costs $5; an annual pass costs $30.
-> UPDATE: According to local peakbagger Eric Willhite during 2012, all signs stating the requirement of the Northwest Forest Pass have been removed.
There is a register at the trailhead. The Forest Service requests all visitors of Johnson Ridge Trail #1067 to register before traveling on the route.