9 mi rt
gain: 3270 ft
max: 5994 ft
My dog and I
gpx track, use at your own risk: Driveway Butte
This is a good early hike when there is still avalanche dangers or too much snow to get to the trailhead in other places, I did it earlier this year on May 11. In May I hit snow in the burn area and then chose my path up the hill from there wishing that I had brought snowshoes. I wanted to go back and see what the summer trail was like. It was fine but I like snow (:
This hike had been on the list (we all have one) for quite some time. I had read that it was a good early season hike because the trail starts down by the highway. This is also the former spot of a fire lookout and I like to visit those.
Driveway Butte is over in the Mazama area (east of Bellingham) so I wait until Highway 20 opens for the season before I even consider this area. If I was to drive around using Hwy 2 it would take several more hours to get here and back so waiting for 20 it is.
The trail for this starts at a graveled parking area (N48 35.874 W120 30.819) with a pit toilet across the road from the Klipchuck campground. It takes off up a hill from there following switchbacks up though a pretty slope that was full of wild flowers earlier this year but for this hike it was pretty dry . Even with the dryness there were still lots of birds around eating the seeds from the earlier flowers. There is water about 1/3 of the way up the slope on a small side trail that goes about 100 ft over to a year-round creek. Knowing this in advance meant that I didn’t have to carry as much water to insure that both Miranda and I had enough to drink. As it turns out there was also plenty of water in the burned out area so I think this hike is good for dogs water-wise.
Once up the first slope, the trail enters a burn area that was the result of the 2003 Needles fire. The trail has been brushed out so other than a few downed trees to step over or go around, it was easy to follow. There was a group of campers with horses at the beginning of the burn area, I think they were the ones working on the trail. The walk through the burn area has little elevation gain so you get a rest from the up for a bit. Once through it though there is a final push to get to the summit and the old fire lookout remnants.
WTA lists Driveway Butte as being 8 miles round trip, I clocked it at nine on both trips. This is a beautiful hike, it is one I intend to do again in the future.