Noble Knob

Gary and I had hiked up Noble Knob one time before back in 1998. There was still snow from near the ridge to the summit. The snow had the Corral Pass Road closed and we saw only 2 other hikers all day. With the south Cascades sounding like it would be clearer we decided for a return trip. Suzanne joined us for the hike. We had a reasonably early start as we were on the trail just before 9:00 AM. The trailhead is at about 2800'. Two minutes into the hike we saw two other hikers. So much for total solitude. They were not heading up the Deep Creek Trail so we were alone once again. The trail is in great shape. There were a few logs down but all were easy to climb over. This trail gains 3000' in 4 miles to the intersection with the trail from Corral Pass. The grade is generally so gentle and consistent that it does not seem that steep. Although there did not seem to be much snow visible up high I did not want to be post holing every step later so I suggested we bring the snowshoes. That turned out to be a less than totally prescient choice.

The route is completely in forest most of the way to the intersection. We continued climbing higher with many switchbacks at first. Later the trail climbs right on up though still not at a particularly steep grade. We reached a viewpoint with an excellent view of Mt. Rainier. Our first snow patch was also here. This was well over 5000'. Although the day was supposed to be mostly cloudy it was in fact clear and so was Mt. Rainier. The trail headed back into forest once again. The trail was a little rutted and the rut was filled with solid ice. I had to walk around it as there was no traction. When we again exited the forest the trail was now snow covered. It was not very deep but it was snow. We only had to climb up to about 5600' to find it. At 5800' we reached the intersection. We had climbed 4 miles and had 1 1/2 miles left to reach Noble Knob.

There were footprints in the snow and they continued left towards Noble Knob. The trail now was mostly flat with some ups and downs. It was largely snow covered though with numerous dirt sections. The snow was OK but much of it was on thin slanting ice. My poles saved me from several spills. We stopped when the trail met up with the descending ridge. The actual trail was not obvious but a definite route dropped down the opposite side of the ridge. The footprints we were following stopped here. The snow was soft enough to provide good footing so down we went. Noble Knob was now visible ahead of us. This route was not the real trail but provided the best way to go. The actual trail stayed on the left side of the ridge and descended on deeper snow. Our side was soon in the open and largely melted out.

The route we took seems like an early season boot path which makes for a safer way to proceed. We had a short scramble and soon dropped down to the saddle before the summit. Here we picked up the real trail again. Light snow quickly gave way to bare dirt. We had bare trail almost all the way to the top. After a short hike up roughly 250' we were on top. It was just about 12:00. We came up 5 1/2 miles in 3 hours. The summit view was outstanding. Glacier Peak and the crest peaks near Snoqualmie Pass stood out. The Stuart Range was also clearly visible. The Olympics could be seen to the west. Of course, Mt. Rainier dominated the view to the south. This is among the best viewpoints to get a close up view of the mountain without being overwhelmed by it. We were at just over 6000' and my thermometer read 52 degrees. The wind was light and the sun was shining. So much for late winter weather.

We were able to see 5 different lakes from the summit. All of them were snow covered. Our 45 minute summit stay seemed to be over in a flash. We were soon descending. The scramble back up to the ridge went easily. The trail back to the intersection was much different. The icy sections were mostly soft and much easier to walk on. We dropped back down to the viewpoint where we first saw Rainier. Here we were shocked to see a woman hiking down behind us. It turns out her husband was able to drive 5 miles up the Corral Pass Road. She hiked from there to our trail and then back down. Farther down we passed a group coming up. The two at the start and the three higher up were all the people we saw this day. Just after 3:00 PM we were back at the car.

This trail was just as nice as I remembered it. The snow was much less than expected. One more time this winter we ended up carrying snowshoes all the way up and all the way down. Noble Knob will be mobbed when the road to Corral Pass is open the the upper trail is snow free. Until then, this is a very nice trail to the summit. It has a nice grade, a nice forest, high alpine roaming, great views, and a fun summit. I'm sure I'll be back in a few years.

Deep Creek
Mt. Rainier
Scramble Route
Stuart Range
Scramble Route
Noble Knob
Final Climb
Southeast View
Glacier Peak
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2005