I had a rare Saturday morning business
appointment in Puyallup and decided that I would get in a nearby hike. Pack
Forest is not something I would do on a sunny Saturday in July. It is however
a nice destination when you only have half a day and start in Puyallup. This
was the third time I have hiked Pack Forest and it had been 7 years since
the last time. I finished my appointment at 1:00. By 1:45 I had driven to
the trailhead, changed out of my suit, and was ready to go. I started by
the entrance on the Hugo Peak trail. This is one of the nicest trails in
the forest. It is well maintained and ascends at a fairly gently grade. The
route crosses several roads and goes through several small clear cuts. Trillium
and several other flowers are blooming now. Within 40 minutes I reached the
summit of Hugo Peak. This far is 2 1/2 miles with a 1000' gain. There are
still some views from the top but small trees are closing out the views.
The view was noticeably smaller than on my 1995 trip. After a quick lunch
I descended the road down to Kirkland Pass. If you drive beyond the entrance
gate to the parking lot, road 1000 begins here and circles Hugo Peak going
through Kirkland Pass. From the pass I went on the left most road 2000. This
road also does a loop beginning and ending at Kirkland Pass. My clockwise
loop began with a 400' gain to near the top of Lookout Peak. Along the road
were views out to Eatonviille. I very short trek off the road took me to
the old lookout site. The cement corner blocks are all that's left. I could
see the base of Mt. Rainier but the clouds were hiding it today. From such
a close range the view should be very spectacular. Perhaps I'll see it next
time. I shouldn't complain, it threatened but never rained all day. In fact,
the sun actually came out later in the day. Farther around the loop I took
off on another side trip. In keeping with the theme of the day it too was
a loop. The Canyon Peak loop adds 1 1/2 miles but not much in the way of
views. Once back on road 2000 it was 1 3/4 more miles back to Kirkland Pass.
So far I had covered 8 miles and left the best part for last.
From the pass I took the Reservoir Trail trail down.
It is a nice forest walk descending around Hugo Peak. At lower levels it is
a little muddy but not too bad. Just before reaching road 1000 again I turned
off on a trail which paralleled the road. When the trail did come out at
the road I turned right and followed it to the obvious dirt road turning left.
When I was last here there was a water tower at this intersection. Now just
the base is there. This road goes into the old Murphy Farm. A wire fence
is still present. As you walk this road look out for an unmarked trail going
left in the tall grass. This is the beginning of the Little Mashel Falls
Trail. This falls is sufficient reason alone to go to Pack Forest. The Falls
Trail crosses a meadow and begins to descend. At an intersection take the
right fork. This trail is in better shape than I remembered. The trail continues
fairly level but take the first steep trail on the left. It drops quickly.
By now the roar of the falls is very loud. The falls comes into view soon.
Either enjoy this view or scramble down to the base of the falls. The route
down is short, losing about 50' but is slippery and a fall could be serious.
If you are not comfortable scrambling down just enjoy the view from there.
The falls were terrific this day. I took advantage of the clearing weather
and ample water flow to get some great photos. After a nice break at the
falls I hiked back up the steep trail to the first intersection and went
left to the top of the falls. You can stand right next to the edge and look
down to the base. Not a good place if you have a fear of heights.
After seeing all of the falls it was time to head on
back. From the falls it is about 2 1/2 miles via road 1000 to the main parking
lot and then down the entrance road to my car at the Hugo Peak trailhead.
I made it back at 6:40, just short of 5 hours after I started. The total trip
covered 12 miles with 1700' gained. I had one summit, occasional views, and
a terrific waterfall. Over the 5 hours I saw three hikers on top of Hugo Peak,
one mountain biker, and 4 hikers arriving at the falls as I left. Not a bad
way to spend a day after working in the morning.