9.7 mi rt
max: 2982 ft
gain: 2482 ft
gpx track, use at your own risk: StewY
The Stewart Mountain Range has three summits, they are rather humps than summits but that works. There are also MANY ways to come up Stewart. I took the route I took today because I wanted to see what damage the logging operations up there did to the trails. Good news, only one side of a loop was lost but to make up for that the views are great!
I started this hike at the tree jail located near the official parking on Y Road (N48 45.825 W122 20.705). I had intended to do a 16 miler but that plan changed when I got to the top and encountered about 10 inches of snow that I would have to walk several miles through so plan b.
I took the main trail up, the trail starts at N48 45.925 W122 20.272. The trails/roads are maintained by the Backcountry Horsemen and by the nice man that lives in the house on the hill to climbers right if you are in the parking area. Funny story there, a few years back I was up about 4 mi at the view point (I went up on the road by the guard shack) with Miranda and out of nowhere these two dogs came running up to me like I was the best thing they ever saw. I called and waited and watched for their human but there wasn’t one. I gave them Miranda’s snacks while I tried to reach their human by the phone number on their tags. I wanted to make sure they didn’t run off so I put one on Miranda’s leash and rigged a leash for the other out of stuff in my pack. When I couldn’t reach the owners I called the animal people and they said they would try to get to me. I started to walk out but it quickly became apparent that the older dog was injured so I rigged a sling out of my coats and carried that 30ish pound pup out. The animal people couldn’t get in so I just kept on hiking them out. When I had about 1.5 left to the gate the animal people finally got through the gate and came and took my charges from me. Turns out that the owners, the ones that live up in that house, were out of town and their house/dog sitters had let the dogs out and they got lost and were wandering up there for three days! I was amazed they survived, there is always tons of cougar, coyote and bear scat on every hike I take up there.
So, I went up the trail to where it passes over the main road, turned left and walked a hundred feet or so then back on trail. When the trail once again passed over and old spur road I went left and followed the trail to the main road. I followed the road up to the newly logged area and after appreciating the views went to look for the trail. It is not there, I promise. So I walked through the clear cut a few hundred feet and connected up with the old road that makes one part of the loop, the part still remaining. At the end of that road is the old, old trail that I think very few people remember or use. There were footprints in the snow so I know at least one other is using it.
I headed up the old trail where it connects to where the loop used to meet. There has been some trail building up here by mountain bikers. You can always tell they have been there…new bridge, check…something (a skull) hanging about 6 feet up a tree, check.
The incline here is steep and there was about 6-8 inches of snow so this climb was hard work. I topped out on the trail where it meets the road system and when I made my way out to the road I knew that this would be my turnaround point. So I head down the other arm of this loop trail which follows an old road turned trail turned creek.
After a few miles as I was getting to about a half mile before I would connect back up with a main road I saw two men on orv’s with chainsaws clearing the downed trees off the trail. One of them looks oddly at me for a minute and then walks up and gives me a big bear hug. I was a little weirded out but then he said “you are the one that found my dogs!”. See how I brought that back around ( : I had met them when they got back to town and had heard the story, they were very grateful.
Shortly after joining up with the main road I passed by the burn zone of the big fire that started up here last July 5. They think the fire was started by a Chinese lantern that had been released on the 4th. Thankfully they got it under control in just a few days so it did not spread too far.
While I did not achieve my original goal, it was a great walk and a great day to be outside.