Noble Knob

Gary and John were free for a weekend hike. The temperature everywhere would be near 90 degrees. Where to go? We settled on an old favorite. Gary and I hiked up Noble Knob in early March of the non winter of 2005. There were only some snow patches that year. The trail is in forest from the bottom near Highway 410 to near the ridge top over 3000' higher up. At least the forest part should be cool. I met Gary at 6:30 am in Kent and we picked up John and headed out to Enumclaw. Up Highway 410 to the Deep Creek Trailhead. Only room for a few cars. That was okay as we were the only one there at the start and finish. It was a little chilly at first. the route starts alongside Deep Creek then quickly switchbacks to the left. That is the last creek seen all day. Bring lots of water. Not knowing how much snow was left near 6000' we brought ice axes and microspikes. There can be some steep sidehilling with too much snow. No problem as we did not need either of them. It was right at 8:00 am when we started out.

After climbing 100' or so it warmed up fast. Shorts and short sleeves were plenty for the whole day. There were a few trees down early then the trail was clear for several miles. There were some more lots to get over, under, or around higher up. A bit of a pain but none were too difficult. There is not a lot of underbrush with the dark forest. The tree cover did help keep the heat down in the forest. The first viewpoint a short way up had several trees down in the short distance from the main trail. The route gains some 3100' in about four miles to the junction near the ridge top. Though it relentlessly climbs it is not a particularly steep trail. Most people ascend Noble Knob via the two ends of the ridge top trail. from Corral Pass to the east and a logging road to the west. Neither has a lot of elevation gain. This one does. It also has much less snow because of the forest. The higher starts melt out later. That makes this a good time to go as the bigger summer crowds on the shorter easier trails are not there yet.

I thought the Mt. Rainier viewpoint was much lower than it really is. I kept expecting to reach it just to be disappointed. On the 2005 trip we climbed 5.5 miles to the summit in three hours. Blame it on the heat or the extra gear and water weight or just getting older. We were quite a bit slower this day. After a little more than 3.5 miles we reached the viewpoint. Rainier was very clear. We had a short break there. Few wildflowers in the forest, other than some saprophytes, but good patches of phlox at the rocky viewpoint.

We soon were moving again as the trail immediately went back into the forest. The trail went straight up a few dry gullies as the nice switchbacks began to change character as we neared the ridge top. There was a little snow now but still just patchy. Finally, we exited the forest and began to head right up the slope. Not much color except for a few glacier lilies so far. The trail here is "v" shaped. Not flat enough at the bottom for the width of a single boot. We had to walk along the sloping side of the trail. There was just a little snow at the junction. Before the trip I checked the Corral Pass snotel. It registered 39" of snow. It is located at the same elevation just two miles to the east. I expected more here. So much the better.

We headed on for the last 1.5 miles to the top of Noble Knob. We had a number of short snow patches to cross on fairly flat terrain. When the slope became much steeper the trail was bare dirt. It was easy walking as the route stays below the ridge top. The ridge began to drop and we soon reached the ridge top. The summer trail works around to the left. Snow began here. It was steep and slick. There is a boot path from here that goes on the more open right side of the ridge. This route was snow free. No need for axes and spikes. We dropped won the ridge on the path. Some very bright wallflower was in bloom here. Down at the bottom there was a bit more snow. The summit of Noble Knob was now right in front of us. The open slope was bare. We passed the four way junction with trails down to the logging road start to the west and Lost Lake far below. We took the trail to the summit.

It was getting very hot now. Lots of phlox and violet colored violets along the trail. We switchbacked up and around to the right side of the peak. The trail cuts all the way around but it as under snow on the back side and we headed right up to the top. It was 11:54 when I arrived. Nearly four hours to come up. Thanks to the early start we still made it before noon. The summit does have some great views. We could see all the peaks from Snoqualmie to Stevens Passes plus Glacier Peak and Mt. Stuart. The Olympics were a bit hazy far to the west.

Having put in so much effort to get up there we stuck around. Way down below the summit we saw two guys at George Lake. I needed my zoom lens to see much. When the heat got to me I headed down a short way to a shady spot with some snow. Natural air conditioning. It was plenty hot on top. After an hour another hiker arrived. He day hiked to Lost Lake and decided to continue on to Noble Knob. It was a very hot day to be doing an 18 mile hike. He turned out to be the only person we met all day. Another day of almost total solitude. It was 1:30 pm when we headed down. A full 95 minutes on the summit.  After dropping down to the saddle we just had the steep boot path to climb. Once up that we had some shade and not much more uphill to go. The trip down was non eventful but sure seemed to be a lot more than 5.5 miles. It dragged on.

When we finally made it back to Deep Creek we stopped to purify water. Two quarts was not enough for the day. The cold wind blowing down the cascading creek was actually cool. Nice enough that we sat there from 4:15 pm until 4:55 pm. By then we had to go. All in all, it was a great day. We had an early enough start to beat some of the heat. The dark forest helped too. The summit views were excellent. The solitude was nearly total. The wildflowers were a bit disappointing. They will be much better in a few weeks. It was a great day to be out in the mountains.

Parking Spot
Deep Creek
Trail Sign
Sunshine & Shade
Trees Down
Little Tahoma
Mt. Rainier
Snow At Last
At The Junction
Snow Free Trail
Snow Patches
Glacier Lily
Noble Knob In Sight
Mt. Stuart
Rocky Spot
Short Scramble
On To The Knob
Steamboat Prow
George Lake Hikers
Big Snow Mountain
Gary On Summit
Unnamed  Lake
Mutton Mountain
Familiar Flower
Mt. Rainier Summit
John On Summit
Glacier Peak
Snoqualmie Pass North
Ahhh... Cool!
Heading Down
Heading For Ridge
Vanilla Leaf
Deep Creek Again
Gary By Creek
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2016