No summit views. Miles of road hiking. This might not sound like a decent peakbagging experience at first glance, but Temple Mountain might surprise its visitors. Located near Skykomish, Washington, Temple Mountain is a relatively low elevation peak overlooking nearby Money Creek Campground and Miller River Campground.
An old logging road switchbacks up the north and west sides of the mountain, comprising most of the hike. However, the road is not recommended for vehicular usage... due to rough sections, one-lane, and very limited turnout/turnaround spots... and even four-wheel drive vehicles will not continue past the first mile or so of the logging road. Multiple sections of the road have been either washed-out by streams and mudslides, or pass across seasonal streams. There are many downed branches and trees across sections of the road, as well. The lack of vehicle usage on the road makes the summit route feel more like a wide trail than a road.
Temple Mountain Road Route
Continue following the road as it switchbacks through thick evergreen forests, until the summit ridge is reached at a southbound-facing switchback (~3300' elevation). At this switchback, head north in to the forest towards the summit of Temple Mountain. (The logging road continues switchbacking up the ridgeline to its end at approximately 3800' elevation, where a fabulous viewpoint for nearby western and northern mountains is located.)
Thick Evergreen Forest
While hiking north through the forest, eventually an open basin is reached just prior to the final summit slope. Cross the open area and climb up the forested slope to the forested summit (3407' elevation). The summit, itself, has no views, but some views of nearby peaks (such as Mount Baring to the northwest) can be seen at various locations through the treecover. Multiple old-growth evergreen trees can be found on the upper slopes of the mountain.
Seasonal Stream Crossing Road
Temple Mountain can be hiked any month of the year. During Summer and Autumn months, the summit route is a nice woodland hike. During Winter and Spring months, the summit route is a enjoyable snowshoe trek. Springtime tends to be the most recommended season to visit the mountain, when snowpack is firm and past logging debris is snow-covered. Few people visit the summit of Temple Mountain, due to its lack of views, but its straightforward summit route and its beautiful traditional Northwest Forest terrain combine for a good workout and scenic experience. Many hikers will likely not be disappointed.
The summit hiking route is approximately four miles, each way, with approximately 2500' elevation gain. The old logging road is YDS Class 1, and the forested summit slope and ridgetop are YDS Class 1 & 2. No technical hiking equipment is required for summiting Temple Mountain.
1) Follow Highway 2 to approximately MilePost-46, and turn SE onto the Old Cascade Highway. NOTE: This is the Money Creek Campground turnoff from Highway 2.
2) Follow the Old Cascade Highway for exactly one mile. Turn right (south) onto NE Miller River Road.
3) Within one block, turn right (west) onto Money Creek Road, also known as Forest Service Road #6420.
4) Drive approximately 0.7 miles to a bridge crossing Money Creek. The old logging road leading to Temple Mountain begins on the left (south) side of FS-6420.
5) There is a turnout/turnaround area at the entrance to the old logging road. Park at that area (~900' elevation), just off the main road.
6) Hike up the old logging road for approximately 3.7 miles, to a southbound-turning switchback (~3300' elevation).
7) From the switchback, hike slightly northeast through thick evergreen forests for approximately 0.3 miles to the summit (3407' elevation) of Temple Mountain.
Because no official U.S. Forest Service trailhead exists for Temple Mountain, no Northwest Forest Pass (i.e. parking pass) is required. However, due to the usage of Forest Service roads to reach the parking area, a Northwest Forest Pass is definitely advised so vehicles do not appear to be abandoned.
Make certain to have no valuables visible in any vehicles, in case of car prowlers.
The Temple Mountain summit and southern ridgeline are located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, so backcountry camping is allowed.
However, camping is prohibited on and along the old logging road that switchbacks up the mountain's north and west side.