Easton Ridge

I have been up the Domerie Divide trail many times. From Silver Creek to the junction with the Easton Ridge Trail then steeply uphill to the ridge top between Thomas and Baldy Peaks. I have done it in spring, summer, fall, and winter. What I had never done is take the Easton Ridge Trail from that junction. It was time for  a second new trip in one weekend. Gwen joined me for this trip. I was tired from the 12.5 miles and 4300' of gain to Merritt Lake and Alpine Lookout the day before. I was counting on this trip being much easier. We met in Bellevue and headed east over Snoqualmie Pass. Off the freeway at Easton and on to the Kachess Ridge Domerie Divide trailhead. To my surprise there were already 4 or 5 cars in the small lot at 8:50 am. By 9:00 am we were on our way. As usual this time of year we began to see calypso orchids immediately.

It was nice and cool down along Silver Creek. Gwen and I were on this trail in early January on a snowshoe trip to Thomas Mountain. No snowshoes required this day. I climbed the steep but smooth trail with sore legs at first. As we went along I began to feel better. We had a number of stops for more calypso orchids and trillium in bloom. The trees down in January are still there. Crawling under several was not what I had in mind. One couple passed us by and we saw nobody else on the way to the junction.  We turned right on the Easton Ridge Trail. Like the Domerie Divide Trial nearby, it wastes no time getting down to business. The trail climbs steeply up the ridge.

Switchbacks are just an afterthought in the rush to gain elevation. The trail is nice and smooth without steps. That makes it easier than some less steep routes. We took a short break at a rock outcrop that provided views. Mt. Rainier popped up over the ridge to the south. The higher up the ridge we hiked the more open it became. Views improved over to Mt. Baldy and the French Cabin Mountains. Views down to Easton opened up. The flower show included phlox, Indian paintbrush, lupine, chocolate lilies, spring beauty, Oregon anemone, and more. We even saw a couple balsamroot in bloom. The couple who passed us earlier passed us heading down. One solo hiker also came down.

The temperature was very comfortable in shorts and short sleeves. Not hot but a very nice late spring day. The route switchbacked up to a high point where we stopped for lunch. We had surprisingly good views from 4517'. Some type of big bee took an interest in my bright green backpack. It would not leave it. Gwen finally got the good idea to get the bug to take off then cover the pack with a gray windbreaker. That finally did the trick.

After lunch we headed on to the next high point at 4505'. there is a rock outcropping with a vertical drop beyond. The proverbial end of the line. Much to our surprise there was some corrugated metal on the ground and a lone 4x4 board atop the rocks. It was much too small to be the base of a fire lookout. I had a hunch that was confirmed when I returned home. I have made several visits to the old aircraft beacon standing nearby on Kachess Ridge. Our trailhead leads to it in a short distance. The Kachess Beacon has many citations online. I did find one lone web page that mentioned the Easton Ridge aircraft beacon. This was news to me. The online photo perfectly matches the rocks our debris sits upon. This was an unexpected bit of history to come upon.

Our trip down was much easier. The trail is steep in places but smooth unlike the rocked and rocky Domerie Divide Trail. On the way up we did see a sweatshirt stuck on a tree well above the trail. We explored it coming down. It is stapled onto the tree with many long staples. Best to bring tools if you wish to remove it. We met several more parties on their way up. It was getting hot and I was glad not to be heading up in the heat of the day. One small log across the trail was cut out on our way down the Easton Ridge Trail. Thank you to whoever is responsible.

We were back at the car by 3:30 pm. It turned out to be a good short hike without a long drive. Hard to believe I had been up the main trail so many times without taking this spur. The flower show was better than expected, the views were better than expected, and the whole day was better than expected. For the day I logged 6 miles round trip with 2500' of elevation gain. Numbers very similar to West Tiger 3 $ 2 but with much different scenery and a whole lot less people. This was a fun hike that I will repeat in the near future.

Small Waterfall
Vanilla Leaf
Twin Calypso Orchids
Chocolate Lily
In The Forest
French Cabin Mt.
Mt. Rainier
Ground Cover
Gap Tree
Ridge Top Meadow
Big Bee
Snowy Peaks
Lunch View
Beacon Girl
Mt. Stuart
Leaving Beacon
Lake Easton
Spring Beauty
Oregon Anemone
Pale Green Plant
Very Nice Color
Mt. Baldy
Easton Ridge
Indian Paintbrush
Back At The Creek
False Solomon's Seal
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2014