The Greatest Prominence Points of the 39 Counties of Washington

Ranked by Prominence

Compiled by Jeff Howbert and John Roper (2003)

Corrected contributions refound by Andy Martin 2006 and John Kirk 2008

NAME PROM   County ELEV   SADDLE   USGS QUAD
Mount Rainier 13210   Pierce 14410   1200   Mount Rainier West
Mount Baker 8881   Whatcom 10781   1900   Mount Baker
Mount Adams 8116   Yakima 12276   4160   Mount Adams East
Mount Olympus 7829   Jefferson 7969   140   Mount Olympus
Glacier Peak 7480   Snohomish 10520 + 3040   Glacier Peak East
Mount Stuart 5335   Chelan 9415   4080   Mount Stuart
Abercrombie Mtn 5168   Stevens 7308   2140   Abercrombie Mtn
Round Mountain 4780   Skagit 5320 + 540   Fortson
Copper Butte 4740   Ferry 7140   2400   Copper Butte
Mount St. Helens 4605   Skamania 8365   3760   Mount St. Helens
Remmel Mountain 4365   Okanogan 8685   4320   Remmel Mountain
Mount Spokane 3503   Spokane 5883   2380   Mount Spokane
Mount Daniel 3480   King 7960 + 4480   Mount Daniel
Mount Daniel 3480   Kittitas 7960 + 4480   Mount Daniel
High Rock 3125   Lewis 5685   2560   Sawtooth Ridge
Badger Mountain 2674   Douglas 4254   1580   Orondo
Mount Washington 2615   Mason 6255   3640   Mount Washington
Mount Muller 2598   Clallam 3748   1150   Mount Muller
Indian Rock 2543   Klickitat 5823   3280   Indian Rock
Snyder Hill 2480   Pend Oreille 5440 + 2960   Metaline Falls
Oregon Butte 2407   Columbia 6387   3980   Oregon Butte
Mount Constitution 2407   San Juan 2407   0   Mount Constitution
Larch Mountain 2316   Thurston 2660   344   Capitol Peak
Lakeview Peak 2188   Cowlitz 3868   1680   Lakeview Peak
Rattlesnake Hills 1829   Benton 3629   1800   Maiden Spring
Wahatis Peak 1792   Grant 2692   900   Wahatis Peak
Weatherwax Ridge 1696   Grays Harbor 2736   1040   Grisdale
Walville Peak 1657   Pacific 2417   760   Pluvius
Gold Mountain 1521   Kitsap 1761   240   Wildcat Lake
Green Mountain 1462   Clark 2062   600   Amboy
Lilienthal Mountain 1268   Lincoln 3568   2300   McCoy Lake
Tekoa Mountain 1089   Whitman 4009   2920   Tekeo Mountain
Saddle Butte 960   Asotin 5880 + 4920   Saddle Butte
"Prominencians Peak" 899   Garfield 5139   4240   Diamond Peak
Elk Mountain 825   Wahkiakum 1505   680   Grays River
Camano Island 580   Island 580 + 0   Juniper Beach
Hunt BM 544   Franklin 1584   1040   Lower Monumental Dam
"Lyons Head" 377   Walla Walla 1230   853   Starbuck West
Taunton BM 333   Adams 1903   1570   Taunton

 

County Highpoints that are not the GPP in County
County County HP Elevation Prom
Adams Karukul Hills 2100+ 190
Asotin Ray Ridge 6185 65
Chelan Bonanza 9511 3711
Clallam Gray Wolf Ridge 7218 818
Clark Unnamed Liner 4120+ 4120+ 0
Cowlitz Goat Mountain 4965 2005
Franklin Unnamed 1640+ 1640+ 541
Garfield Diamond Peak 6379 779
Grant Unnamed 2899 2899 749
Grays Harbor Unnamed Liner 4880+ 4880+ 0
Lewis "Big Horn" 8000+ 240
Mason Stone 6612 2132
Okanogan North Gardner 8956 3996
Pacific Unnamed 3000+ 3000+ 1480
Pend Oreille Gypsy Peak 7320+ 1720
Skagit Buckner 9112 3032
Skamania Unnamed Liner on Adams 8920+ 0
Thurston Quiemuth 2922 762
Wahkiakum Huckleberry Ridge 2673 393
Walla Walla Lewis 4888 168
20      

 

 

Last Dance at the Washington County Prom

Finishing the Greatest Prominence Points (GPPs) in all 39 Counties of WA

Prominencians Peak'

GPP of Garfield County, WA

Prominence 899 feet, Elevation 5139'

USGS Diamond Peak

June 19, 2006

Map

JR and Sofy

                    Prominencians Peak', GPP of Garfield County

For a number of reasons, this peak proved to be much less satisfying than I would have expected, especially upon finally completing an important state list. The main annoyance was that I was walking DOWNHILL for most of the trip to CLIMB the Garfield GPP. That's a unique experience in WA, and kind of weird. On the whole though, the WA CoGPP is a good list.

A small amount of old surveyors wood and wire was weathering and rusting on top, but whether they helicoptered into this summit or climbed it is unknown.

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Elk Mountain

GPP of Wahkiakum County, WA

Prominence 825 feet  Elevation 1505 feet

Map

May 23, 2005

JR

 

I just couldn't muster the gumption to ask this lady to tango on September 20, 2003, as I was trying to fill my dance card at the Washington State County Prom.  Son Aaron, 9 then, was along helping me sashay through the list of WA County GPPs (greatest prominence points). Earlier in the day we'd picked off a peak erroneously identified as the GPP of Clark County, and we were hoping for an easy logging-road drive-up to the top of Elk Mountain the GPP in Wahkiakum County in SW  WA, but a locked gate 5.6 miles from its top at the end of the day made us leave this wallflower sitting sadly on the side.

Plus, she was reasonably ugly.

                     Elk Mountain, GPP of Wahkiakum County

 

But when it's closing time, and you can't go home until you think you've danced with them all, I set out on May 23, 2005, equipped with my bike to try to finish the WA Co GPPs, a list that I then thought I'd left just one shy of done for over a year.

 

In 1994 with Aaron less than a year old and on my back, and Karen at my side for a dozen or so of them, the highest point in every one of the 39 Washington counties was finished, an entertaining gauntlet laid down by Andy Martin. Andy went on to figure out the CoHPs (county high points) of all 3140 US counties, and now has devoted zealots all over the country heading off to all manner of county tops, from Mount McKinley/Denali in Alaska, to the Grand Teton in Wyoming, to corn fields in Iowa, to murky bayous in Louisiana.

 

Thirty years ago at this writing (1975), John Lixvar came up with the concept of prominence when he calculated the 196 Highest Peaks in Washington, based on a 400-foot prominence rule. The rest of the Western Hemisphere started picking up on the prominence idea 20 years later, actually less than a decade ago, but happily have run spectacularly with the concept since then.

 

The Greatest Prominence Points of the Washington Counties obviously combines the county and prominence ideas. In a bare minority (19) of the 39 counties of Washington, the CoHP and the GPP are the same. That leaves 20 counties where another summit gets the honor of being the GPP.  As difficult as it is to wring out the maps to decide what the county HPs are, figuring out the county GPPs is an order of magnitude more onerous. 

 

Luckily, Jeff Howbert has done the lion's share of the prominence calculations in the state as he nears the completion of his Master List of Peaks in Washington. Taking Jeff's calculations, and knowing where the county borders are, led me to a WA Co GPP list in a reasonably pleasant fashion. Only a couple of County GPPs could not be teased out of Jeff's figures because either (1) the point did not have an official name, or (2) it did not have a prominence of 400 feet or greater and thus did not get listed by Jeff.

Adams and Walla Walla Counties are the only two WA counties with a GPP prominence of less than 400 feet.  Edward Earl confirmed with his Winprom program that we had the wheatfield county GPPs of Franklin, Adams, and Walla Walla in the right places. 

[Update 1/23/06: Spurred by Eric Noel, Andy Martin found a unnamed summit in Garfield County with 899 feet of prominence, which correctly boots previously-listed Diamond Peak off the CoGPP list.  The embarrassing part of this is that Jeff Howbert had sent me his complete list of peaks on this Diamond Peak quadrangle two years before with the right answer, but as yet this information is not published on his website.   So at this point in January 2006, this list has not been finished, and the dance at least for me is not really over. 

Update # 2 and #3: On October 22, 2008, John Kirk, from Colorado, working the prominence list down to 300-feet mean in Washington notified some of us WA prominencians that there were errors on the identification of the GPP in not only Clark County (previously listed as Larch Mtn 3480+/P1080), but also of the GPP in Grays Harbor County (previously listed as Gibson Peak 4517/P1437). Corrections are noted on the above, hopefully final list. Mea culpa again, as Jeff Howbert had the accurate prominence calculations done on these quads in Clark and Grays Harbor County, years ago.]

 

So back to the Elk Mountain story. I tried to talk Paul Klenke into coming with me this day, Monday, May 23, 2005, since he was the only person possibly interested I knew who had a weekday off who would also be even remotely interested in something as eclectic as this. But he was already planning to climb a 2000-foot prominence peak this day (Mount Wow), and I agreed that would be a better use of his time.

 

After loading my bike into the back of my Subaru, I headed down the freeway to Kelso (MP 40 on I-5, north of Oregon), then turned west on HW 4 through Longview, along the Columbia River to Cathlamet, the county seat of Wahkiakum County, and on to Skamokawa (pronounced Ska-mock-a-wa), then NW to the “KM Mountain” (so signed) pass between the Skamokawa and Grays Rivers. 170 miles and 3.2 hours from Bellevue .

 

Here on the left, a logging road leading to the top of Elk Mountain begins.  However, this road is soon signed with several prissy/pissy rules, including “No unauthorized vehicles.” Hmmm, a bike is a vehicle, and no one gave me authority. Is that what they mean?  But “Walk-ins allowed.”  What if I walked my bike in, then rode? “No off-road vehicles.”What if I keep my bike on the road, and not off, as planned? “Gate may be locked at any time.” And was.

 

I decided to try another road triangulating into the main Elk Mountain road, just a smidge west of KM Mtn pass to avoid the sign. It looked initially like it may sneak the trick, but soon a locked gate and a duplicate of the initial sign stopped me at 800 feet in a grassy pull-out with a clear view to the summit of Elk Mountain topped by a billowing cumulus heading my way (photo above).

 

As I was unloading my bike, a white Cathlamet Timber (Campbell Group) pick-up whizzed by without a glance or discouraging word, stopped at the gate, unlocked it, drove through, locked it back up, and drove on. Has to be a good sign, I thought. I “walked” my bike around the gate and started pedaling for the top. When you're going from an 800-foot park to 1505-foot top in 5.6 miles the biking is nice.

 

The best view (other than from near the top) occurs when the road loops as far south as the route goes at the 3-mile point, affording a view south to Jim Crow Hill, the Columbia River, and across into Oregon. I was passed by a couple of fully-loaded logging trucks headed out, whose drivers gave me a friendly wave. Along the ride, I ran into several “Flood Route” signs, and several years ago, I drove this section of SW WA and was routed up into the hills near here to avoid some flooded lowland roads.

 

When I reached the final switchback on the NNE ridge of Elk, the road became steep enough to require pushing the bike much of the rest of the way, and the cumulus I'd seen from the initial gate was dumping on me in earnest, to the point where I took a couple of rests under an evergreen umbrella.

 

As I passed the 1400-foot “Quarry” near the top, and a shiny rock-loader parked there, I pulled out the Topo map and noted for the first time a quandary at the quarry that the Mid-West/Plains-country county highpointers often face. Yes, the summit shows as 1505 feet, but there are also two other 1480+ contours here (which nit-pickers could fuss as being as high as 1519 feet).

 

Ignoring this debate for the moment, I pressed my wheeled steed right at the “Y” between the two NE 1480+ contours and rolled downhill to a saddle north of the 1505' top. The map does not show it, but a grassy road then leads essentially to the very summit which is capped by an overturned cedar stump in the woods to the left. No particular views on this cloudy day in the trees, and the top was so anticlimactic that I didn't even bother to take a self-timer shot of my lonely self finishing another Washington milestone.

 

I rode back to the saddle between the 1480+ NE summits and out to an open view north and NE to Grays River Divide and Wahkiakum's CoHP, Huckleberry Ridge.

 

After a few shots of these ho-hum, flattish wooded hills, I directed my attention to the other two 1480+ summits that are topmost contenders on Elk. For sure the NEmost 1480+ contour is not the top, but the middle 1480+ foot contour could possibly qualify. I checked out, but was not going to humiliate myself with walking woods above another quarry to a viewless spot like the Mid-America CoHP enthusiastics are wont to do. No offense, of course, but here in WA, we're calling Elk Mountain 1505 feet, and that's it. At least I am. Plus it will be hard to survey the difference until they log out this area again and treeless sightings can be made.

 

Except for one hill on the road on the return, the descent was all fun. Just before the gate, I was passed by a full logging truck that I caught back up to at the gate, as he was letting himself (and me) through. I asked him if he knew what KM stood for in KM Mountain, right above the gate. He didn't know. 1.3 hours up, 0.6 hours down. This ends the quest for the 39 WA Co GPPs.

 

Addendum: Ten minutes or so later, after imagining an occasional faint path through vine maples, bungee sticks, fallen logs, and oxalis, I was at the 955-foot summit of KM Mtn, topped with an old rotting cedar stump.

 

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ADAMS and WALLA WALLA COUNTY GREATEST PROMINENCE POINTS

October 11, 2003

John and Aaron Roper

700 miles RT

 

Karen was in an immersion Spanish class both days this weekend, so Aaron (newly 10) and I set off on another couple of days of male, father-son bonding. The top priority list we are working on now is the Greatest Prominence Peaks in Washington by County. With drippy, cloudy skies in Bellevue , we were happy to see the somewhat sunny skies in Adams and Walla Walla Counties as we headed east.

 

The toughest part of climbing the “peaks” with the greatest prominence in these counties is figuring out what the heck they are. These are pretty flat counties with no obvious contender for what sticks up the most, and it turns out that the highest point (HP) in both of these counties is not their greatest prominence point (GPP). Unfortunately for me, Jeff Howbert has not yet figured out the prominences on all the quads of these counties, and on the ones he has, he disdains as “There are no peaks on this quad” if they fail to have any P400' summits, so I was on my own here on these calculations. Fair warning: I'm not nearly as sharp-eyed at this task as Jeff, but I'm looking forward in trepidation to what the real right answers might be on these Co GPP questions when he's done.

 

It was interesting to me to discover that these are the only two (out of 39) counties in Washington which do not have a summit with greater than 400 feet of prominence.

 

Adams County Greatest Prominence Peak/Point (GPP)

Taunton Benchmark

1903 feet, with 333 feet of prominence.

USGS Taunton

DeLorme WA Atlas, page 53 B-6.

 

                                              Taunton Benchmark from NW on HW 26

 

This sagebrush hill is the last, easternmost summit on the incredible 55-mile long Saddle Mountains ridge (which the Columbia River had to cut through to get to the sea). Jeff and I gave this summit a quick look on 2/10/02, but turned back before solving the private property issue here. The high point of Adams County is Karakul Hills at 2100+ feet, but it has only 190 feet of prominence.

 

Today Aaron and I drove I-90 to Vantage and headed east on HW 26 towards Othello, stopping at the Grant-Adams county line to take a picture of our objective. A couple miles farther, we turned south on Taunton Road (in DeLorme) to Bench Road to Kuhn Road to position ourselves at 1050' just north of the visible high point (just west of our goal). The contours on this 10-foot interval map make this slope look wickedly steep.

 

We located a foot-wide iron bridge crossing an intervening irrigation ditch, ducked through a barbed-wire fence, and found a fairly open route that zig-zagged through the purple sage to the 1903' top. There is a 1925 “ Taunton” BM on the summit. Dirt roads access this point from east and west, but the one from the west, over the named prominence-defining Saddle Gap is across private property from the north. Wahatis Peak, the HP of Saddle Mountains, was the best looking summit in view.

45 minutes up, 20 down.

 

Walla Walla County GPP

“Lyons Head”

375m/1230 feet, with 377 feet of prominence.

USGS Starbuck West

DeLorme WA Atlas page 55 D-7.

 

                                                Lyons Head, WW GPP from north

                                               Summit is just above right end of RR bridge

 

Walla Walla County is a particularly difficult county in which to calculate prominences. The county high point is Lewis Peak 4888' on the west edge of the Blue Mountains, but it drops only 168 feet before rising to higher ground. None of the other Blue Mountain foothills drop enough to qualify, though Klicker Mountain is close with P320'. The topography of this county is that of rolling hills of sage or wheat and the undulations go on for miles before a high and prominent point is reached. The other problem is that metric quads are mixed in with the familiar foot-based quads.

 

“Lyons Head,” above Lyons Ferry to the SW, very near a point where Aaron discovered that four counties (Walla Walla, Columbia, Whitman, and Franklin) nearly touch, is my guess as to the GPP of WW Co. As I scrolled through TOPO! trying to solve this puzzle, my eyes crossed a few times.

 

Aaron and I came at this point from Saddle Mountains through Othello, Connell, Kahlotus, and down HW 261 to Lyons Ferry State Park and Bridge across the Snake River at the point where the Palouse River flows in from the north. It was easy to spot the summit on the south side of the Snake as we came off the plain down to the river.

 

We followed south up Lyons Ferry Road to the Walla Walla-Columbia County border, hoping to follow a road taking off at powerlines up the S, SW, and W side to the top, but though this road was open, it had a “private property, no unauthorized vehicles” sign. So we parked just north inside Columbia County at 232m (771') and walked the open SE slope to the top. There was a plant that had a round, porcupine-quill-like, seed center that Aaron called “stars.” Their sharp pricks annoyed the boy up and down the hill. There were nice views upriver and down the Snake River, and up the Palouse River from the top.

 

More later maybe, but the “fun” continued this day figuring a route to the top of Skyrocket Hills 2080+ with P260. We then overnighted at a motel in Pasco, and on Sunday 10/12/03 explored Twin Sisters where we got chased by a landowner who took a shot at us (with his digital camera), Clover Hill, Juniper Dunes Wilderness (need to go back since it's only open March-May), Bateman Island (true HP, since Jeff thought we failed on this in February), Fox Island , Horn Rapids ORV Park (hundreds of vehicles supporting wave after wave of motorcycle motocross whoop-de-do races). Our day ended failing on Rattlesnake Mountain, Goose Egg Hill, and Horsethief Point, foiled by no trespassing postings on all.