Greatest Prominence Points of the
HIGH POINTS OF
39 COUNTIES OF WASHINGTON
by John Roper
8.2.1994, written 1998
When our son, Aaron, was born in 1993, Karen and I needed a new and
entertaining, but subdued mountain list to pursue, one that could include
the baby boy. Luckily, that year Andy Martin compiled such a list, enumerating
the highest point in every county in Washington. Many of these summits
were perfect for Aaron, a newborn fifth generation Washingtonian. Andy's
phone number was on his list, and after looking it over, I gave him a
Andy told me that he had
compiled similar lists of the county high points for about half
the US states at that time, mostly in the west and NE, as well as
the Mexican states, and the 54 National Parks of the US. Now, by
1998, Andy and his friends have found the high points of nearly
all of the 3140 counties in the US, and his book, County High
Points , will surely drive many a fanatic peak bagger ecstatic.
Send him $13 (2011 price includes S&H) at 3030 N Sarsaparilla
Pl, Tucson, AZ 85749 for your own copy. (Now in 2004, every US CoHP
has been identified, and there is an inspired national band of zealots
going after every one, even those in the flat states. See www.cohp.org
and be prepared to be amused.)
Andy identified all of
these high points by reviewing maps at the University of Arizona
library in Tucson, starting from large scale, 1:1,000,000, and honing
in to nail them down on the 7.5-minute (1:24,000) quads. He did
Washington in about 15 hours. Pretty amazing, when you consider
that our state has around 1440 7.5-minute quads.
The list delighted me.
As a climber, I'd already picked off some of the county high points
without even knowing it--those in counties with volcanoes and high
non-volcanic peaks. And Steve Fry's list of the 100 Highest
Peaks in Washington with 2000 Feet of Prominence had taken
us to several more of the high Olympic and eastern and southern
Washington county summits. But I still had 21 county high points
to do when I first scanned Andy's gift in 1993.
To make these trips more culturally entertaining, we also visited the
county seat of each county to contemplate the town, soak up some history,
and photograph the county courthouse. Some of these buildings are quite
impressive, and a few are award-winning architectural wonders (e.g.,
Pacific, Jefferson, Spokane, Columbia, Douglas, and Franklin Counties,
to name a few).
The following descriptions provide a thumbnail guide to each county
high point. Mileages are approximate. In addition to the USGS maps listed,
Forest Service (FS) maps, and DeLorme's Washington Atlas and Gazetteer (buy
one!) are extremely helpful, even vital, on the approaches. With a DeLorme
Atlas and the pages and coordinates listed below, you can easily locate
the county summits, and get a pretty good idea of how to access them.
FAIR WARNING: This
is an "armchair guide,” an offering for amusement, not for action.
Many of these peaks are potentially life threatening, or are on
private property. Adequate training for the real mountains, and
owner's permission for ones on private property are required. Consult
the Cascade Alpine Guides and the Climber's Guide
to the Olympic Mountains on the "serious peaks." Respect private
land. (By 2004, conditions on several WA Co HPs have changed from
below, most notably for Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Wahkiakum Counties.
See www.cohp.org for updates.)
The counties are listed alphabetically, with the name of the high point
(HP), its elevation, USGS 7.5-minute quad, DeLorme Atlas coordinates,
County Seat (CS), and route description shown. Unofficial names are in
ADAMS County. Karakul Hills (2100'+). USGS Karakul
Hills. DeLorme: p71/C7. CS: Ritzville. An eastern Washington
wheatfield, named for a sheep of central Asia, or the loosely curled
black wool from its lambs. Take exit 231 off I-90, east of Ritzville.
Follow Tokio Road to Ziemer Road. On our "climb," we waited for the
farmer to finish plowing the summit and asked permission to walk his
dirt field 0.7 miles from the road to the top.
ASOTIN County. Ray Ridge (6185'). USGS Saddle Butte.
DeLorme: p43/D5. CS: Asotin. This spot elevation mark is actually a smidge
into Garfield County, so Asotin's HP is maybe 6183' or so, but definitely
higher than a 6170' control point just SE. From FS Spur Road 4030 to
Diamond Peak (see Garfield Co), turn south in 0.15 miles, then continue
another 0.7 miles (passing Misery Camp). Walk the last few feet to the
top rather than taking your macho machine to the highest driveable WA
BENTON County. Rattlesnake Hills (3629'). USGS
Maiden Spring. DeLorme: p38/A2. CS: Prosser. We punctured a gas
tank on the first attempt at this summit from the west, then returned
a few months later to try it from the east, following DeLorme's Atlas
north out of Prosser to the "Well" on Bennett Road. A fence and wildlife
reserve sign stopped the car short of the east summit. A perfectly
walkable road leads to the top. Crickets, sounding very much like rattlesnakes
to those with imaginations, caused some worry.
CHELAN County. Bonanza Peak (9511'). USGS
Holden. DeLorme: p98/C1. CS: Wenatchee. The highest non-volcanic
peak in the state and overall the most challenging WA County HP. Logistically,
it involves a boat or plane ride up Lake Chelan to Lucerne, then a
bus ride to Holden village. The Mary Green Glacier can be nasty late
in the season, and the summit rocks are friable and steep, usually
requiring a rappel down. Figure on 3 days, roundtrip.
CLALLAM County. Gray Wolf Ridge (7218'). USGS Tyler
Peak. DeLorme: p77/A7. CS: Port Angeles. A good-enough looking
peak early in the year with snow, then it dries out too much. It's
a scenic hike up the Baldy trail from the Dungeness River, and then
along the NE ridge crest of Gray Wolf to the summit.
"Sturgeon Fin" (4120'+). USGS Bobs
Mountain. DeLorme: p23/BC6-7. CS: Vancouver. This cohp was
one of the most delightful finds we made (1994) on this whole list.
Leave I-5 at Woodland and drive to Yacolt and beyond to Sunset Falls
Campground. Follow FS Road 41 south to FS Road 4109, a rough road,
navigable in a city car with a cavalier driver to its bermed end.
A stunning flowered meadow walk on an abandoned road leads to the
top of Silver Star Mountain (4360+). Just west is a striking, slightly-cocked
basalt fin that looks precisely like a sturgeon swimming straight
at you. The words "Sturgeon Rock" are located at a point erroneously
misplaced on the maps, so I would to suggest the name "Sturgeon
Fin" for this point just east of the Clark County highpoint.
Just west of what should be Sturgeon Rock (4160+), Clark County
reaches its apogee. This was Aaron's first overnight campout in
COLUMBIA County. Oregon Butte (6387'). USGS
Oregon Butte. DeLorme: p42/D3. CS: Dayton. The highest peak in
SE Washington and the Washington Blue Mountains. The summits here are
simply bumps on high ridges. It's the grand-canyon valleys that drop
from the ridges that make this part of the state noteworthy. Drive
SE out of Dayton, to Eckler Mtn Road to FS Road 46 to Godman Campground,
then east to the end of FS Road 4608. A 3-mile trail goes on to the
summit, which sports a little red lookout house.
COWLITZ County. Goat Mountain (4965'). USGS
Goat Mountain. DeLorme: p33/C6. CS: Kelso. A rocky-wooded hump
6 miles SW of Mt Saint Helens. From Cougar, drive up FS Road 81 past
Merrill Lake, to Goat Marsh Lakes trailhead. From the west lake scramble
SW to a saddle SE of the summit, then up the ridge (with a class 4
bush-rock move on the crest, or somewhat easier bush-rock just right
of the crest) to the south ridge. Better do the 4960+ foot contour
N of 4965 too. Goat is a little harder than it looks. The approach
from the west is surely easier.
Badger Mountain (4254'). USGS Orondo.
DeLorme: p83/D7. CS: Waterville. Once a local ski area. This massive
squatty summit does look a little like the back of a badger. Private
property. One way up is via the final headwater-draw of Rock Creek
from the Badger Mountain Road, then through cow-pied sagebrush fields
to the top. Two brass benchmarks atop are stamped "Ski." There are
two more closed contours at 4240+ that have been determined to be
lower than the land at 4254'.
FERRY County. Copper Butte (7140'). USGS
Copper Butte. DeLorme: p117/C5. CS: Republic. The highest of
a number of non-descript wooded humps cuddled by the lovely Kettle
River, and distinct as the last of the 7000+ foot Co HPs. Drive east
over Sherman Pass on HW 20 and turn north on FS Road 2030 (N Fk Sherman
Creek) to an historic trail that leads up the east slopes to the north
FRANKLIN County. "Benjamins Butte" (1640'+). USGS
Washtucna South. DeLorme: p55/C6. CS: Pasco. Private wheatfield.
Drive 2 miles south of sleepy Washtucna to Nunamaker Road, then another
mile to the farm shown on the map (house and multiple out buildings,
including an airplane hanger). Franklin County is on a farm owned by
Dale Ross. Ask permission to drive the road SE-E as close as possible
to the objective (the 500 meter contour). This is where I finished
up the High Points of the 39 Washington Counties (on August 2, 1994)
in freshly-plowed, ankle-deep Palouse loess soil.
GARFIELD County. Diamond Peak (6379'). USGS
Diamond Peak. DeLorme: p42/D4. CS: Pomeroy. A farther east continuation
of the ridge from Oregon Butte (HP of Columbia Co), separating the
Tucannon and Wenaha Rivers. There is a 6360+ contour WNW of this summit
which may be higher. Better do it too. Drive about 34 miles south from
Pomeroy on HW 128 to Mountain Road to FS Road 40 to its highest point
at the very headwaters of the Tucannon River. Then turn west on FS
Road 4030 to its end. Follow the 1-mile trail to the top.
GRANT County. “Ulysses S. Hill” (2899'). USGS
Rattlesnake Springs. DeLorme: p68/A2. CS: Ephrata. A high, rolling
sagebrush hill on private property. Using DeLorme's Atlas, find Overan
Road, north of Quincy, either over the top of Beezley Hills (for the
best area views), or up Lynch Coulee. The final summit "road" (two
tiretracks in a field) takes off just W of the powerlines in Section
GRAYS HARBOR County. "Wynoochee Point" (4880'+). USGS
Wynoochee Lake. DeLorme: p60/A4. CS: Montesano. A bump
on the west ridge of unnamed Peak 4949, west of Capitol Peak where
the east county line crosses the ridge in the far NE corner of this
quad. Drive 40+ miles north from Montesano past Wynoochee Lake. This
road is gated for wildlife protection until April 30 (in '94), one
mile north of the lake. Continue on FS Road 2270 then Spur 300 up Copper
Creek to a 3500' pass. Climb another 1400 feet through fairly open
timber SE to the Co HP.
ISLAND County. "Camano Crest" (580'+). USGS Camano
and Juniper Head. DeLorme: p95/C5. CS: Oak Harbor. Whidbey Island
and Camano Island make up this county. According to Andy Martin, who
inspired this madness, this is the lowest county high point in the
entire western US. There are actually five bumps at exactly this same
580+ foot contour, all very close together, all on private property.
Drive on to Camano Island from Stanwood and head south to Island Crest
Way. The summits are located off EZ Duzit Road and Sequoia Road. This
was Aaron's first Co HP at less than 2 months old.
JEFFERSON County. Mount Olympus (7969' ).
USGS Mount Olympus. DeLorme: p76/B3. CS: Port Townsend. The king
of the Olympics, of course, and the farthest west Washington County
HP. The approach involves a looong 17-mile hoof in, up the Hoh River
and Glacier Creek. The Blue Glacier can get pretty icy. The summit
rocks have stopped the faint-hearted. See the Olympics guide.
KING County (and KITTITAS County) . Mount Daniel
(7960'+). USGS Mount Daniel. DeLorme: p81/D7.
CS: Seattle. The only Washington peak that is the HP of two counties.
Drive to near the end of the Cle Elum River road from I-90 and Roslyn,
then take the trail to Peggys Pond. Climb up snow or rock slopes over
the east summit, past the middle summit, to the highest, west summit,
a hands-on scramble.
KITSAP County. Gold Mountain (1761'). USGS Wildcat
Lake. DeLorme: p78/D2. CS: Port Orchard, Ann and Lee's home.
This is a user-unfriendly mountain. Multiple roads access the top but
are gated low and negatively signed, protecting Bremerton's watershed
and various TV and communications towers. Let your conscience be your
KITTITAS County. Mount Daniel (7960'+). See
KING County. CS: Ellensburg.
KLICKITAT County. Indian Rock ( 5823'). USGS
Indian Rock. DeLorme: p26/A2. CS: Goldendale. A sprawling pancake
summit north of Goldendale. The cluster of rocks 500' ENE of the 5823
benchmark is probably a little higher. A rough road (for a city car)
snakes up the east ridge of this HP from Satus Pass, along the boundary
of the Yakima Indian Reservation. Walk the last few hundred feet from
a spur, south to the summit for sweeping views of the Columbia River
and Mount Hood.
LEWIS County. "Big Horn" (8000'+). USGS
Walupt Lake. DeLorme: p35/A5. CS: Chehalis. The final 10-foot
rock pitch, a vertical, class 5.4 crack, makes this the most technically
difficult move on the easiest route up any of Washington's county high
points. From 3 miles south of Packwood, drive up Johnson Creek to hike
the trail from Chambers Lake into the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Hike into
the idyllic headwaters of the Cispus River (see cover of July '98 P&P),
and just beyond to Cispus Pass. Carefully scramble steep junky gullies
to the SW base of the peak to make the last athletic move.
LINCOLN County. Lilienthal Mountain (3568'). USGS
McCoy Lake. DeLorme: p87/A7. CS: Davenport. There is no question
as to what the HP is in this flat county. Access to this peaklet might
be over private property. There are several approach possibilities
here. One is from the NW near Fort Spokane, walking a gated road to
the top of west "Li'l Lilienthal" (3320+) then east another mile to
MASON County. Mount Stone (6612'). USGS Mt Skokomish.
DeLorme: p77/D6. CS: Shelton. This is one of the 2000-foot prominence
peaks. Drive up the Hamma Hamma River road and take the rough Whitehorse
Creek (Putnam) trail to Lake of the Angels. The climb continues x-c up
and down the SW slope and ridge to a final rock move near the top.
OKANOGAN County. North Gardner Mountain (8956'). USGS
Silver Star Mtn. DeLorme: p112/D4. CS: Okanogan. The king of
the Methow River. A lot of climbers try this more than once before
getting it, since the usual north ridge route is a little more tricky
than advertised. We did it over Abernathy Peak on a 3-day Memorial
Day weekend. Long, but not technically difficult.
PACIFIC County. "Pacific County HP" (3000'+). USGS
Blaney Creek. DeLorme: p31/A5. CS: South Bend. A shaved hill
on Weyerhaeuser land which gives surprisingly great 360 degree views
to Oregon, Hood, Willipa Bay, the Olympics, Rainier, St Helens and
Adams. From Pe Ell, drive south to the Weyerhaeuser HQ and get permission,
instructions, and a map on the road route up the Chehalis River to
Thrash Creek and on to the summit. Expect a little confusion, and take
your bike, just in case.
PEND OREILLE County. Gypsy Peak (7320'+). USGS
Gypsy Peak. DeLorme: p119/A7. CS: Newport. The highest peak in
eastern Washington, east of the Columbia-Okanogan Rivers, and located
in the farthest NE corner of the state. It's the best looking peak
in this part of the state. Drive east out of Metaline Falls past Sullivan
Lake on FS Roads 22, 2220, 2212, and Spur 200 to a pass between Leola
and Gypsy Creek. Follow the Cromwell Ridge Trail 1 mile, then head
x-c a long 2 miles to the summit. The 7309' WC (witness corner) is
just shy of the summit.
PIERCE County. Mount Rainier (14410'). USGS Mt
Rainier West. DeLorme: p48/B2-3. CS:Tacoma. To mountaineers,
no more need be said. Easiest route: From Paradise it is preferable
to slog up past Camp Muir to Ingraham Flats. "Sleep" here, if you can.
Get up at midnight and follow everyone else to the top and back. 2
days round trip. Anticipate headache, nausea, cold toes, and exhilaration.
SAN JUAN County. Mount Constitution (2407'). USGS
Mount Constitution. DeLorme: p108/C2. CS: Friday Harbor. The
most magnificent marine view in the US. Take the ferry from Anacortes
to Orcas Island and follow maps and signs on paved roads to within
a few steps of the summit which sports an impressive stone castle-like
lookout built in the '30s.
Mount Buckner (9112'). USGS Goode
Mtn. DeLorme: p98/A1. CS: Mt Vernon. Buckner cradles the largest
glacier in the lower 49 states (outside of Rainier). The map shows
the HP as the NE summit, though most climbers stop at the potentially
lower, closer 9080+ SW summit, happy that the guidebook fudges this
point up to "est. 9114 feet." The easiest route is from upper Horseshoe
Basin which can be accessed by a potentially dangerous downclimb
from Sahale Arm, or a brushy upclimb through a spectacular waterfall-headwall
from Stehekin River/Basin Creek.
SKAMANIA County. "Skamania Pinnacle" (8920'+). USGS
Mt Adams West. DeLorme: p34/C4. CS: Stevenson. Until its May
18, 1980 eruption, “old” Mount St Helens (9677') was the County HP.
When the Big Blast blew its elevation down to 8365 feet, a non-descript
spot on the east boundary of the county, on the west ridge of Mount
Adams, above the Pinnacle Glacier, became the HP by pure luck. The
quickest way is from the west via a trail off FS Road 23 between Noname
and Twin Falls Creeks to Burnt Rock, then up easy snow and volcanic
Glacier Peak (10520'+). USGS Glacier Peak East. DeLorme:
p97/D7-8. CS: Everett. The wilderness volcano. This is generally
a two-day trip, via the White Chuck River-Kennedy Hot Springs-Sitkum
Glacier route. Experienced climbers have died on the glissade down.
This was my first Co HP, June 25, 1967.
SPOKANE County. Mount Spokane (5883'). USGS Mount
Spokane. DeLorme: p89/A8. CS: Spokane. The only county HP where
the county, the county seat, the high point, and the quad share a common
name. Drive the paved road (HW 206 and spur) all the way to the summit
from HW 2, a few miles north of Spokane.
STEVENS County. Abercrombie Mountain (7308'). USGS
Abercrombie Mtn. DeLorme: p119/A5. CS: Colville. Just west across
the Pend Oreille River from Gypsy Peak, Abercrombie is the culmination
of a high ridge between that river and Deep Creek/Columbia River. Drive
east out of Leadpoint up Silver Creek to find a pleasant hike via an
old lookout trail.
THURSTON County. Quiemuth Peak (2922'). USGS
Eatonville. DeLorme: p47/B6. CS: Olympia. This summit, recently
named by the Washington State Board on Geographic Names, is best seen
from Alder Lake where the Eatonville cut-off road connects with HW
7. From Elbe, go south 2+ miles to Pleasant Valley Road which becomes
FS Road 74. Follow this to FS 7409 to the end of spur 017, then walk
crosscountry to the top for good views to Alder Lake and the Olympics.
WAHKIAKUM County. Huckleberry Ridge (2673). USGS
Skamokawa Pass. DeLorme: p31/B6. CS: Cathlamet. Drive HW 407
up Elochoman River north from Cathlamet to Weyerhaeuser Road 700 which
goes up the West Fork. Hope the gate is open. Drive, walk, or pedal
to another gate a quarter mile from the top, continuing on to nice
summit views into Oregon and the lower Columbia. New logging and road
building were going on in 1994, which may allow access from a little
farther up the North Fork Elochoman River.
WALLA WALLA County. Lewis Peak (4888). USGS Deadman
Peak. DeLorme: p42/D1. CS: Walla Walla. A wooded knoll near the
east county line. From Minnick on HW 12, NE of Walla Walla, take the
Lewis Peak county road to its end--a grassy flat area. A jeep road
(cabled and signed "No Trespassing" in ‘94) continues a short half
mile to the summit.
WHATCOM County. Mount Baker (10781'). USGS
Mount Baker. DeLorme: p110/B2. CS: Bellingham. Washington's most
beautiful volcano, say some, and the highest peak in the Skagit River
drainage. Strong parties can day-trip the most popular routes (Coleman
Glacier route from the SW, and the Easton Glacier from the south).
The tricky, veiled crevasses on Baker and summer avalanches have killed
WHITMAN County. Tekoa Mountain (4009'). USGS
Tekoa Mtn. DeLorme: p73/C8. CS: Colfax. A long, broad, woods-crested
mass rising above the Palouse. Drive 1.5 miles W on HW 27 out of the
town of Tekoa, finding a somewhat rough gravel road that goes almost
to the top before a gate guarding a communications center makes the
last few feet a walk.
YAKIMA County. Mount Adams (12276'). USGS
Mount Adams East. DeLorme: p35/C5. CS: Yakima. The second highest
peak in the state is easiest from the south (Cold Springs campground).
Horses used to trudge up to a summit lookout. The ski down in early
season is a classic.
and friends found this project to be entertaining, educational,
and athletic. We learned a lot about the geography, architecture,
and history of the state, and met many fine folks. Washingtonians
are blessed with a diverse, interesting, and unique state and people.
to County High Pointing in Washington
for the Highpointers club who are having their convention in Washington
July 23-24, 2004 (http://highpointers.org)
39 county high points range from the sublime to the ridiculous.
We have a wonderful state up here with all sorts of fascinating
topography, so there's something for everyone. The WA cohps could
be classified in groups. For additional information see the
trip reports and maps at www.cohp.org
Rainier, the most dominant mountain in the lower 48, draws the state
highpointers here. Our other four volcanoes, Baker, Glacier, Adams,
and Saint Helens top out Washington's next four highest counties,
or used to, before Saint Helens blew on May 18, 1980 and relinquished
her crown to a kiss-your-sister liner on the shoulder of Adams.
Peak 9511' is the highest non-volcanic peak in the state and has
the reputation of topping one of the hardest counties in the contiguous
US to climb. Mountaineering skills including rock and/or glacier
experience are also required on Buckner, North Gardner, “Big Horn”
(Lewis cohp), Olympus, Daniel, Gray Wolf, and Stone.
Washington and Columbia River Mountains
group includes a number of gentle, but pleasant woodsy rollers north
of the Columbia River: Gypsy Peak, Abercrombie, and Copper Butte,
and four along the Oregon border in the Blue Mountains above the
Snake River: Oregon Butte, Diamond, Ray Ridge, and Lewis. Along
the Idaho border are Mount Spokane, a paved drive-up, and Tekoa,
a rough drive-up. Other cohps rising above the Columbia include
Lilienthal, Badger, Rattlesnake Hills, and Indian Rock.
Washington has been mauled by clearcuts, including the flanks of
Grays Harbor cohp (a liner), Pacific cohp, Huckleberry, Goat, and
Constitution is a very special place, possessing the “finest
marine view in America.” Camano Island is known for its 5 closed
contour silliness, private property, and nettles. Gold Mountain
is the cohp of Kitsap, almost an island.
wheatfields top the highest land in Adams and Franklin Counties,
and Grant County is a sage hill.
is a cute little basalt cockscomb on the Clark County line, approached
via a trail through a glorious wildflower meadow (the result of a
1902 forest fire), and would be my recommendation for a group climb
at the convention.
Copyright 2004, John W. Roper.
All Rights Reserved.