Noble Knob

I joined Janet for a Forth Of July hike. We chose to head to Noble Knob via Corral Pass. Neither of us had been to the pass. The Norse Peak fire in 2017 burn up a lot of the slopes above Highway 410. Corral Pass was mostly burned along with damage to the steep road up from the highway. We heard that it had just reopened and thought this would be a good time to check out the trail over to Noble Knob. I did 9 miles with 2900' of gain on Saturday and wanted an easier trip for the middle day of the holiday weekend. We were a little concerned that others might have heard and that the parking could be full unless we arrived early. With that in mind we met in North Seattle at 6:25 am. Janet drove as we headed south. The drive was fast up to where we turned off Highway 410. The six or so miles gaining 2800' on the Corral Pass road was much slower.

The road is in pretty good shape. Some quite steep sections and pull outs with huge drop offs of you meet a car going the other way. There are two spots where low clearance vehicles might bottom out. We had no problems. Averaging more than 10 mph wold be challenging. We reached the pass at 8:25 am. The small lot at the trailhead was full with 6-8 cars. We parked close by. A little farther down the road is a brand new outhouse. Unlike all the prefab fiberglass ones this one is made with real plywood. The old campgrounds was completely burned up. They are adding more day use amenities like picnic tables. It was sunny but a little cool when we started out. The trailhead is at 5700' and Noble Knob is at 6011'. There are some ups and downs then a drop to a saddle before the final climb to the summit. Still, it is 7 mile round trip with only about 1200' of elevation gain.The trailhead is actually 300' higher than Paradise at Mt. Rainier.

We were on our way at about 8:43 am. Wildflowers started almost immediately. Several small creeks were still running. There are not a lot of trees still standing along the trail. There was not a lot of shade on the return trip.  The open slopes melted out earlier than when in forest and with sun and water the wildflowers were doing great. We very quickly saw columbine, asters, lousewort, Indian paintbrush, lupine, tiger lilies, and more. Our pace was very slow with many photos taken. Janet noticed that small phlox petals had dozens of tine dew drops on them. A neat visual effect. There was even some magenta paintbrush. I only see it near Mt. Rainier. The columbine was the first I have seen this year. There was one spot with patches of bluebells. The only ones seen all day and  my photos did not turn out well. At one shaded small creek we saw some marsh marigolds in bloom along with bog orchids. I have not seen the latter in years.

We continued north and suddenly Mt. Rainier came into sight. It is close enough to really dominate the view. It was crystal clear with no haze and all. There wee a few silver snags in the view most of the time. Those silver snags were big trees before the fire turned them to silver needles with most all the bark burned off. We did have a short spur to a clear view of Mt. Rainier along with some bright purplish cliff penstemon flowers and bright yellow stonecrop.  The trail contoured around Mutton Mountain then climbed a little with the ridge. I have only been up Mutton Mountain one time on a snowshoe trip in 2012. It the 1.5 mile mark we reached the junction with the Deep Creek Trail. This 5 mile long trail climbs all the way from near Highway 410. That is the route I have most often used to reach Noble Knob. I have also summited it via the Dalles Ridge Trail and the Ranger Creek Trail. Corral Pass would be the fourth trailhead I have used.

Beyond Deep Creek I was used to forest and few views. Now it is mostly burned silver snags with lots of grass and wildflowers. Much less shade and more wildflower color. Mt. Rainier is often visible. With gentle ups and downs we reached the ridge top again. From here it is downhill to the saddle where the last half mile climb ascends Noble Knob. The trail drops in the open then into forest. It was nice to have some shade here. We began seeing folks heading back already. We passed a forest ranger and two crew who were finishing a big loop from Corral Pass down to Echo and Lost Lakes and back up going by Noble Knob. They mentioned that they cut out 47 logs across the trails. A few new wildflowers in the shade including a white anemone. We soon reached the bottom where there are three trails. Left drops to George Lake. Right drops to Lost Lake. Middle heads up Noble Knob. There are soon no trees to block the view of Noble Knob. The ascent did not take very long. More wildflowers on this trail. We reached the top to find...nobody. Several groups were descending as we hiked up but I did not expect to have the top to ourselves.

We arrived on top just a minute before 11:00 am. All the photo stops took a lot of time but who cares? We had all day to hike 3.5 miles back to the car. Several groups did arrive on top while we were there. Most did not stay more than a few minutes. We had a longer summit stay. Mt. Rainier was still completely in the clear. Peaks to the north were not the same. Most were lost in a combination of some clouds and haze. We have been close to wildfire smoke coming from California nd Canada. This day we were pretty lucky as there as no smoke near us. On the way up we debated a detour up Mutton Mountain. Both of us had done it on snow but not without. We also considered heading back on the Dalles Ridge Trail to a saddle then going up the grassy ridge to the top. It is lower than Noble Knob but has some good views too. We decided on the latter detour and packed up to go.

At 11:42 am we headed down. Down to the saddle then up the trail to the Dalles Ridge junction. We turned right and dropped down. From Noble Knob we could see that the trail would need to descend to get under a band of cliffs. Some shade and more wildflowers on this short trail section. We reached the saddle to find a few of the first blooming beargrass of the year.  The somewhat steep climb up the ridge went fine and we followed the ridge top to the highest point at the other end.  We looked across the valley to Suntop Lookout. More good Rainier views. Another summit stay. We took one hour to reach this spot from the top of Noble Knob and spent another 20 minutes there. The trip back was much warmer than the forecast high of about 70 degrees. With fewer trees than before the fire it is just a much warmer hike. Thankfully it was not real hot. We just kept up a slow and steady pace to control the warmth.

Down the ridge to the trail in the saddle then back to the Noble Knob Trail. Back up to the ridge top and the straight traverse back to the trailhead. The trail did seem a lot longer on the way back. Mt. Rainier was finally getting a little hazy but much less than I would have expected by afternoon. We periodically passed more groups coming in. We stopped for more wildflower and silver snag photos.  we reached the trailhead at 3:18 pm. The first small lot was almost empty but there were 4 or 5 cars were we were parked. The road up is steep and narrow in places. There are regular pullouts. We were really hoping to get down without meeting any cars coming up. Two cars did arrive just while we were getting ready to leave. Our idea that folks would not becoming up to a trailhead that had been closed for 4 years late on a Sunday afternoon seemed like it might be faulty. It was. On the drive down we met three cars and one mountain biker coming up. Thankfully they were all at places where getting around each other was not too difficult. I was amazed that someone was pedaling a non electric bake up 2800' on a rocky dirt road in six miles on a warm sunny afternoon. He pedaled right past us.

Traffic was pretty light on the middle day of a three day weekend. No problems all the way back to Seattle. This turned out to be a very nice hike. A new trailhead and section of trail for each of us. Very nice weather. Great haze free views of Mt. Rainier most of the way. Not very crowded even with a trail shorter than the one we hiked. The wildflower display was not spectacular but it was well above average. It was unusual to reach a 6000' summit that was only 300' higher than the trailhead. Our side trip to the second summit brought the day's totals up to 9 miles with 1900' of gain. That added up to 18 miles with 4800' of gain in two days. That left me with the last day of the holiday weekend to recuperate while writing two trip reports and going over several hundred photos. A fine holiday weekend of hiking.

Corral Pass
Alpine Hawkweed
First Lupine
Framed Mt. Rainier
Another Lupine
Orange Agoseris
Tiger Lilies
Dewy Phlox
Marsh Marigolds
Bog Orchid
Orange Paintbrush
Burned Ridge Top
Even More Lupine
Janet & Mt. Rainier
Cliff Penstemon
View Of Noble Knob
Silver Forest  Hike
White Flower
Lupine Lined Trail
Tree & Rainier
Glacier Lilies
Knob Is Ahead
White Anemone
Magenta Paintbrush
Meadow & Knob
Rainier Over Burn
Violet Violets
Yellow Flower
George Lake
Big Burn
Red Paintbrush
Little Tahoma
Rainier Over Burn
Janet Scrambling
Ridge Top Hiking
Bright Penstemon
Heading Down
Through The Burn
Mutton Mountain
Afternoon Rainier
Almost Done
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2021