By Gary Huff
Mt. Ellinor: 5,944 ft.
Elevation gain 2,250. Distance: 4.4 miles. Time: 3.5 hrs. 50% alpine. Trailhead: 3,700 ft. Enjoyment rating: 5
Overview:Mt. Ellinor, a Southern Olympics peak, is located in the Brothers Wilderness Area and is the southernmost high peak on the north side of Lake Cushman. It is a steep (2,250 ft. in 2.2 miles), but excellent hike to an interesting, rocky slab summit. The summit looks like it needs climbing skills but requires only some light scrambling. Views from the top are spectacular and include the Cascades, the Puget Sound, and a close up of Mt. Washington and a string of Olympic peaks.
Getting to the Trailhead:From Hwy 101 in Hoodsport on the Hood Canal turn west on the Lake Cushman Road which is well signed. Drive 9 miles to the junction with Road #24, turn right and drive 1.7 miles to its intersection with road # 2419. Turn left and drive 4.6 miles past the lower trailhead at 2,700 feet. Drive another 1.6 miles on #2419 and take a left on road #2419-014. It is one mile to the end of the road and the upper trailhead at 3,700 feet.
The Trail:100 ft. from the trailhead come to a junction with the lower trail. Stay right, and then begin climbing steeply. At .3 mile come to another junction with the lower trail, again stay right, the left will drop down. Hike 1.3 miles through forest to a flat bench meadow and camping area. Climbers use this in the spring and climb the snow chute straight ahead of you going up from the meadow. At 1.4 miles the trail turns left, a way trail leads to the right, a campground and another climber’s route. Here you switchback though sub alpine terrain, then climb up a steep rocky ridge through open alpine county. Views open up back down to the trailhead parking and Lake Cushman far below. Cross under the eastern face of the mountain to where the trail ends, and then turn left along a ridge to the summit at 2.2 mi.
The Peak:The last 200 feet are a light scramble through rock. Be sure to mentally mark where you leave the trail, for the return trip. Rock chutes near the top can be confusing going down and lead you to dead ends, too steep to scramble down safely. The summit is made of huge rock slabs and is big enough for about 10 people. Goats are often seen in this area, so be aware. The views here are expansive and dramatic. Directly northeast from Ellinor a prominent rock pinnacle, called “A” peak, stands guard over a spiny saddle leading up to Mt. Washington (6,255 ft), seemingly a stones throw away. Behind Mt. Washington, moving north are Mt. Pershing, Mt. Stone and Mt. Lena. In the distance are glacier covered, Mt. Anderson and Mt. Olympus. To the West are Mt. Lincoln and a string of smaller southern Olympic peaks. A great view of Lake Cushman is directly below you south. To the east is the Hood Canal and Puget Sound. Farther east sit the highest Cascades north to south; including in order; Baker, Glacier, Adams, Rainier and St Helens.
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