Lookout Mnt: Stumpwater in Snow 12.15.16


Playing in snow in our local hills


~7.5 mi rt

max: 2695 ft

gain: 2375 total ascent


I have posted about this in the past but today was just so beautiful I wanted to share it again.  This is a great loop trail about 7.5 miles rt with a decent amount of gain.  I can get to parking in about 20 minutes from my house.  I am almost always alone.  And today I was knee deep in snow at the top, sweet sweet fluffy pow. If you want more details (coords for parking and such) check out the earlier post.

I had limited time today, I was meeting someone at the pottery studio at 1.  I wanted to play in snow and had not been up this trail for awhile so it was the perfect place to come.

This trail has been on my mind lately due to a conversation with a local mountain biker I had recently.  I am always amazed and usually annoyed with their attitude towards their “secret” trails.  I have walked/hiked on almost if not all trails and roads there are on Lookout, Stewart, Anderson, Lyman, Bowman, Blanchard, Chuckanut…am I forgetting anything?  I and others have been using these trails for a long, long time, way before the mountain biking community became large here.  Yes, they build new trails for me to use and I thank them for that.  These trails are usually unsanctioned and often on private property.  I usually don’t make a big deal about this, I just want to walk.  But, heavens forbid you ask where some trail is or what the names are, this is what I did the other day.  I often do not know the names they use, I just make up my own.  I have been calling this one the Ridge trail, I was trying to find out the what the bikers call it and one of the bikers was quite rude.  So, I did a little work (very little, it is called google) and found that this is indeed the one they call Stumpwater.  It is officially closed to mountain bikers right now because it is in the newly added properties added to Whatcom County Parks and it is NOT up to code.  I contacted the parks and was told hikers could still use it, we are much lower impact and there are not the liabilities there are with the bikers. Of course the mountain bikers are still using it as well.  That’s fine, live and let live…just don’t discount me because I am a hiker not on a bike.

I have friends that are mountain bikers and they are quite nice. A few of them will even trail talk with me.  I like trail talk, I could talk about trails for days!

Before I leave the subject of trails, have you ever checked out Open Cycle Maps? Shows almost all of the local trails.


Also, geocaching:

lookout geocaches.png

Same area showing the geocaches. 

Oh, sorry.  Are you still reading?  Alright back to my walk.

There were no bikes today.  There was so much snow, beautiful beautiful snow.  I took my microspikes and a so glad I did.  We have been in a deep freeze for a week or two up here in Bham world and I needed the spikes to get up the steep frozen trails.  I always go up their down so I can see them as they come.  I have yet to see anyone on this one.


If you remove the sign, is the trail still closed?

I parked at the upper parking accessed via gate 5 in Sudden Valley.  The parking is on Whatcom Co. Parks land at the gate at the end of Shetland Rd. The access road was icy and snowy right from the start but just an inch or so in between the ruts.  This road is used to access the multiple cell towers there are up here and had been traveled since it had snowed.  I hiked the road (going left at the first intersection) to where the trail heads into the woods.  This happens at a switchback at N 48° 42.173 W 122° 20.858  This is were the fun starts!


Start of fun

This part of the loop is on a trail called Stumpwater, a trail that is 2 miles long with a gain of about 1600 ft.  I love this trail, it is almost entirely in an older forest where the trees are quite tall and the undergrowth is at a minimum.  It follows a creek for part of the way and passes through an area of HUGE mossy boulders. At the top it will pass over an rock outcropping with some partial views, the trees are growing up here.  This area near the top is a good comparison to the below older forest.  In this area the trees are young and have not been thinned so it is an unhealthy forest without much diversity, hopefully the parks will take care of this now that it is on park land.


middle of up fun

I knew I could bail at the top and walk the road back down to the truck but I decided to continue on with my original plan.  The snow was 6-8 inches deep on the last part of the ascent up Stumpwater and was up to my knees at the top.  I cut over about 100 ft and got on the Tower of Lies trail to descend down the other side of this hill.  I have been on both of these trails multiple times and had the tracks in my gpsr otherwise I would not have been so confidant in my travels.


In the boulder zone




enter here, near the top


Starting down the other side

The Tower of Lies trail is steep and the snow was knee deep but it had been so cold lately that the snow was dry and swept out with every step making a wooshing sound as it went.  It was cool. I still had my gaiters and spikes on so I stayed dry and warm and pretty solid footing.  After a short ways the trail comes within 50 ft of a road, this was my goal for today.  If you continue down the trail it crosses across the hill and drop down into the woods, I went on it earlier this year when my friend Sandra and I did an up and over traversing west to east over the hill parking one car on the I-5 side and an other on the Sudden Valley side. She still actively geocaches and she likes company when wandering the hills getting the caches.


Very dry snow



I thought that once I hit the road the walking would be easy but alas, there was about 6 inches of snow on the roads.  It seemed like it had snowed, iced over and then snowed again, every step crunched down to the ice layer then often punched on through.  It was a beautiful clear day so the views kept my mind off the work of the road walk.  This area was logged a year or two ago so the landscape is bare but the views are fantastic. Earlier this year when we walked this road we even found some fossils in the area they cut through the rock to make the road.

Following the main road down brings you to a T, today I went right to go to the connector trail to take me to the road that takes me out.  Last time up here there were some trees down over the connector trail but they have since been cleared up.  This is also where I discovered that my bear spray had fallen out of its holster ) :  Today everything was fine, no trees, no lost items.


I started down the old road that is becoming more trail-like.  This is the only time I ran into someone, there was a woman hiking up the road.  Funny story, we stopped to talk and came to realize that I had run into her and her partner on the first night on my pct walk this summer.  We had both been staying at Grasshopper Pass, about 7 miles south of Hart’s Pass.  Small world among walkers, I often run into the same people in the hills.

The snow at this point had decreased greatly and I was finally able to feel comfortable enough on the icy ground to take the spikes off, my feet thanked me.  It is hard walking that many miles with spikes on the bottom of your shoes.

On the way down, the road/trail passes a pile of rocks that has been there for years.  I think I first walked up this road 10 years ago and the pile of rocks was there and an old wooden sign that said “Captain’s Rocks” was on top of it.  The sign deteriorate over the years but was recently replaced with a new bigger, better wooden sign.  I always wonder who/what Captain was. I know I will probably never find out but I always add a rock.




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