Seattle, WA: Horse Lake Mountain

The 8-mile out-and-back to Horse Lake Mountain passes pristine mountain views, vibrant wildflowers, and a diverse bird population.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
The 8-mile out-and-back to Horse Lake Mountain passes pristine mountain views, vibrant wildflowers, and a diverse bird population.

This 8-miler starts in Number Two Canyon and climbs an old road past giant ponderosas, a willow-lined creek, and countless wildflowers. At mile 1.8, the path winds through returning forest peppered with silver snags from recent burns—watch for woodpeckers, warblers, and mountain bluebirds. The terrain levels slightly and enters a diverse ecosystem filled with pine trees and sage after 2.4 miles (where 100-foot side path diverges from the road to spectacular views above Number One Canyon).
One mile later, bear right at a fork in the road, heading north toward Horse Lake Mountain; search the skies for raptors and turkey vultures that circle overhead. After 3.8 miles, bear right at a 4-way junction, and follow the trail to a highpoint on Horse Lake Mountain with panoramic views. Before retracing your route to the trailhead, scope out Glacier Peak and the Entiat Mountains that rise in the distant northwest, and scan the southwest horizon for Mount Rainier's familiar profile.
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 6.4

Waypoints

HLM001

Location: 47.3907661437988, -120.422843933105

Park in the small pullout at the end of the paved road, and then hike west up the steep (and rough) 4-wheel drive road. Ahead, the road passes by giant ponderosa pine trees (look for woodpeckers) and willows that line the creek.

HLM002

Location: 47.3938331604004, -120.43058013916

The dirt road swings left, paralleling the creek; a moderate climb begins ahead. Pass through a gate and stay straight on Number Two Canyon road. During spring, this open area is filled with seasonal wildflowers.

HLM003

Location: 47.3973693847656, -120.436393737793

Follow the road around a sharp left bend, passing a well-used trail the heads up the gully to the north.

HLM004

Location: 47.398265838623, -120.438323974609

A broad, grassy valley dotted with pine trees stretches out to the west. Hike northwest along the dirt road. Keep an eye our for flycatchers and warblers zipping around the landscape.

HLM005

Location: 47.4037818908691, -120.443031311035

Wind through a recent burn area dotted with dead trees. Next, the road switchbacks to the left, revealing the first views to the south of the Mission Ridge regions.

HLM006

Location: 47.4046745300293, -120.442001342773

Silver snags from recent burns pepper this returning pine forest. Watch for red-breasted sapsuckers, downey woodpeckers, and three-toed woodpeckers. You may spot passing warblers, mountain bluebirds, and western tanagers.

HLM007

Location: 47.4099273681641, -120.440864562988

The terrain becomes less steep as you enter a diverse ecosystem filled with pine trees and sage. Look closely for elk and deer that roam the gullies leading down through the forest. Overlook: Follow an obvious path that leads off the road (to the right) about 100 feet to spectacular views of Number One Canyon winding east toward the Columbia River and Wenatchee. Views also extend to the Waterville Plateau. Continue hiking north.

HLM008

Location: 47.4165534973144, -120.444068908691

Follow the sharp left bend in the road to the southwest. Pass a trail that heads northeast off the road (marked with a homemade 'Road Rage' sign.

HLM009

Location: 47.4155502319336, -120.445236206055

The road switchbacks to the right, revealing vast views to the south and southwest. Bear right @ Y-junction toward Horse Lake Mountain. Search the skies for groups of turkey vultures that circle overhead. Raptors use the updrafts coming out of Number One Canyon to soar over the ridgeline here (northern harriers and blue grouse are a common sight, too).

HLM010

Location: 47.4201812744141, -120.440460205078

You have two options:

1. Bear right @ 4-way junction (as shown on map) and follow the trail heading northeast to a highpoint on Horse Lake Mountain. Early spring wildflowers (yellow bells, prairie star flowers, sage buttercups, desert bluebells, arrowleaf balsamroot, and desert parsley) bloom along this open ridge. Bluebirds and violet-green swallows zip around in the air.

2. To add a quarter mile to your trip, turn left @ 4-way intersection, and follow the 650-foot trail (not mapped) west to the summit of Horse Lake Mountain. Retrace steps to Waypoint 10 and continue straight @ 4-way to a separate highpoint on Horse Lake Mountain.

HLM011

Location: 47.420711517334, -120.43775177002

Views extend in every direction from this open summit. To the west is the Stuart Mountain Range. Glacier Peak and the high peaks of the Entiat Mountains rise in the distant northwest. Northeast views stretch to Chelan Butte along the Columbia River, while eastern views reach to the Columbia Basin. Mount Rainier breaks up the southwest horizon. Return to Waypoint 10 and turn left @ 4-way to reach the trailhead.

Mountain Views

Location: 47.4207191467285, -120.437744140625

Snow-capped peaks rise dramatically behind conifers and sagebrush.