Forum Index > Trip Reports > McDonald Mountain (say what?) 09/02/2009
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tigermn
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tigermn
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PostThu Sep 03, 2009 2:32 pm 
McDonald Mountain is a peak east of Covington without a lot of fanfare (not that it deserves a lot). In fact I haven't really seen a trip report on it before. I only thought about this peak as I used to (and still do) bicycle out there a lot and noticed a tower on top so there must be a way up. For all I knew it could be an overgrown road/trail no views walk in the trees (it wasn't). The trail head is also only about 17 miles from home.
McDonald Mountain trail map
McDonald Mountain trail map

The trailhead is reached by driving the Kent Kangley Road to where the road ends in two miles sign is (about 6.5 miles east of Highway 169) and parking by the blue DNR gate.
McDonald Mountain "trailhead". Through the blue DNR gate. Located on the corner of 346th and Kent Kangley Road.
McDonald Mountain "trailhead". Through the blue DNR gate. Located on the corner of 346th and Kent Kangley Road.

This is not anything special but at least as interesting as the East Tiger road walk. It would be a good lowland snowshoe as well when we get lowland snow as the starting elevation is just below 1000 feet and the summit near 3300 feet.
About halfway up or a little less is a clearcut area which provides good views out towards Tiger/Si/Teneriffe etc.

Looking at the old roads on the map it looked like about a 4 mile road walk more or less. The unknown was the condition of the road and I had minor concerns about finding riff raff up there and maybe a lot of garbage etc. No garbage, just a few places of evidence of a few bonfires.

It turned out to be 4.15 miles gaining 2322 feet.

I've seen a few cars parked here before so I figured someone is going up. Mountain bikes are allowed but no motorized travel.

It starts out as an old road walk.
Start of McDonald road/trail.
Start of McDonald road/trail.

Shortly you reach a point where there is a sinkhole. I think the motorbikes set it up so you can jump it.
This looking from above mound at sinkhole on McDonald trail.
This looking from above mound at sinkhole on McDonald trail.

On the way over I didn't know whether to trust the bridge or not. I made a way around. Would return crossing the bridge after inspecting it more.

In any event pretty much in the trees until about 1.8 miles you break out into the clearcut and have some decent views.
Clearcut after about 1.8 miles. Best views from the McDonald road.
Clearcut after about 1.8 miles. Best views from the McDonald road.
Looking toward McDonald summit from clearcut.
Looking toward McDonald summit from clearcut.
McDonald summit zoom from clearcut.
McDonald summit zoom from clearcut.
Rattlesnake ledge/Si ridge/Teneriffe/Green Mtn from clearcut on McDonald road.
Rattlesnake ledge/Si ridge/Teneriffe/Green Mtn from clearcut on McDonald road.
Rattlesnake mountain from clearcut on McDonald road.
Rattlesnake mountain from clearcut on McDonald road.
Views back towards Taylor/Tiger from clearcut on McDonald road.
Views back towards Taylor/Tiger from clearcut on McDonald road.
Taylor/Lookout mtn/Rattlesnake from clearcut on McDonald road.
Taylor/Lookout mtn/Rattlesnake from clearcut on McDonald road.
Views from clearcut on McDonald road back towards Si/Teneriffe ridge.
Views from clearcut on McDonald road back towards Si/Teneriffe ridge.

After this brief respite you reach a junction (another private road comes in from the south) and continue climbing, reaching the first gate. This one is actually easiest to just hop over rather than trying to bushwhack around. The road improves through the gate and had been traveled somewhat recently anyway.
DNR gate 703 on road towards McDonald summit. This gate easiest to hop over rather than go around.
DNR gate 703 on road towards McDonald summit. This gate easiest to hop over rather than go around.

Shortly after you reach a junction. Keep heading uphill on the main road. The side roads though do provide some views which I would check out on the way back.

Not much in the way of views until the summit. Passing the old Pit you encounter the 2nd gate. This one is a bit higher thus easier to walk around.
"Borrow Pit" on the map right before last gate to McDonald summit.
"Borrow Pit" on the map right before last gate to McDonald summit.
Last gate for final piece up to McDonald summit towers.
Last gate for final piece up to McDonald summit towers.

The grade steepens a bit and before you know if after passing a couple of other old road junctions (stay on the main track and keep heading uphill) you reach the summit area with a single tower and heavy barb wire.
McDonald summit tower.
McDonald summit tower.
McDonald summit tower.
McDonald summit tower.
Smile you're on candid camera at McDonald summit tower area.
Smile you're on candid camera at McDonald summit tower area.
Smile you're on candid camera at McDonald summit tower area.
Smile you're on candid camera at McDonald summit tower area.

The views are good out to the west and a bit south but blocked by trees etc in many directions.
A sunset might be cool from up here. It was a bit hazy this afternoon.
Views westward from McDonald summit.
Views westward from McDonald summit.
Views westward from McDonald summit.
Views westward from McDonald summit.
Views westward from McDonald summit.
Views westward from McDonald summit.
Views westward from McDonald summit.
Views westward from McDonald summit.
Views northwestward from McDonald summit.
Views northwestward from McDonald summit.

After a quick snack it was time to head down. I would check out the spur just above the first gate. Some potential better views to the south.
Views towards Rainier from McDonald spur road.
Views towards Rainier from McDonald spur road.
Views towards Rainier from McDonald spur road.
Views towards Rainier from McDonald spur road.

Back past the first gate in the clearcut for some final shots.
West Tiger and East Tiger towers from McDonald clearcut area.
West Tiger and East Tiger towers from McDonald clearcut area.
Lookout bump in foreground/Rattlesnake mountain in back from McDonald clearcut area.
Lookout bump in foreground/Rattlesnake mountain in back from McDonald clearcut area.
Si/Tenerife ridge from McDonald clearcut area.
Si/Tenerife ridge from McDonald clearcut area.
Over towards watershed from McDonald clearcut area.
Over towards watershed from McDonald clearcut area.
Interesting tree in McDonald clearcut area.
Interesting tree in McDonald clearcut area.
Interesting tree in McDonald clearcut area.
Interesting tree in McDonald clearcut area.
Smoke? over towards Snoqualmie pass from McDonald clearcut area.
Smoke? over towards Snoqualmie pass from McDonald clearcut area.

And a final look back to the summit.
Final look back to towards McDonald summit area from clearcut.
Final look back to towards McDonald summit area from clearcut.

This was definitely a no people type of hike at least on a nice Wednesday afternoon/evening. The only person I saw was when I was about 1 1/2 miles from the car coming down, a guy on a motorbike was going up. Guess he didn't read the sign.
Apparently one person I saw zipping up on a dirt bike didn't read this sign ad the McDonald trailhead.
Apparently one person I saw zipping up on a dirt bike didn't read this sign ad the McDonald trailhead.

Within throwing distance of the trailhead I saw three mountain bikers starting up.

While this isn't a destination resort it is at least something different/close in (especially if you live on the south end) from the Tigers/Rattlesnakes/Squaks of the world. There were some other side roads (in varying degrees of overgrowth) that might be also be explored. It was also a good new boot test.

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LandRover
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PostFri Sep 04, 2009 7:22 am 
If you keep going south about a 1/10th of a mile (N47 20.012 W121 51.444) past the cut-off to the towers you will get some of the best veiws to the south and west.

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"How come dumb stuff seams so smart when you're doing it"
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tigermn
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PostFri Sep 04, 2009 10:34 am 
Yea I intended to do a little more exploring. Well not like it is a tough place to get to.
I'm sure I'll be back when I want something close in and a diversion from the more traditional/popular hikes.

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Eric
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PostFri Sep 04, 2009 12:10 pm 
I did a similar hike to that except we continued on to the 3570 spot which is the HP of the area. I believe the old Footsore book directed people to the same summit you went to as that once had a fire lookout (and views). We used the same "trailhead" that you did as I believe the parking mentioned in that book is now residential and very negatively signed. Not a pretty area but it is good exercise and a short drive. In winter you could even make a snowshoe or even maybe a cross country ski of it with a low snowline.

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tigermn
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PostFri Sep 04, 2009 1:04 pm 
Eric wrote:
I did a similar hike to that except we continued on to the 3570 spot which is the HP of the area. I believe the old Footsore book directed people to the same summit you went to as that once had a fire lookout (and views). We used the same "trailhead" that you did as I believe the parking mentioned in that book is now residential and very negatively signed. Not a pretty area but it is good exercise and a short drive. In winter you could even make a snowshoe or even maybe a cross country ski of it with a low snowline.

Yea I have the old footloose around puget sound book from 1969

It describes a south approach. Last year I rode my bike over there and was trying to check it out. There were all kinds of signs no trespassing/gates etc. Said something about some fruitgrowers associaion property. While I was trying to look closer some guy at one of those houses nearby started yelling at me, like what are you doing. I turned around and just rode out. Figured not the way anymore.

That high point looks a little ways away. I assume you have to fork off somewhere to pick up some other roads to get you there.

Yea my thoughts too. This would be a good snowshoe for something different when we get snow low enough.

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capmblade
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PostFri Sep 04, 2009 5:10 pm 
I used to live near there so I did that same hike once.  Didn't see anyone on it.

I think it would be more interesting to bike, because you might be able to get some views of Howard Hansen behind it.

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Bloated Chipmunk
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Bloated Chipmunk
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PostFri Sep 04, 2009 5:18 pm 
Yeah, I did this mtn. too, back when I lived in Auburn several yrs. ago.  I sure don't remember this sideways tower though:

eek.gif

tigermn wrote:

McDonald summit tower.
McDonald summit tower.

clown.gif

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"Peaks that have come and gone four times should halt a man in his steps." -- William O. Douglas

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tigermn
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tigermn
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PostFri Sep 04, 2009 5:45 pm 
They sure had cameras and lots of barb wire on the top of the fence to keep people out of the towers. I was probably on somebodies TV monitor somewhere.

I suspect based on the dirt bike I saw going up they may have had problems up there with vandalism. The two upper gates it seems to be would be pretty hard to get around on anything you couldn't lift over them, especially the first gate. I didn't see a real way without heavy bushwhacking to go around it. Easy enough to step on and over though. Could have lifted a mountain bike over I suspect.

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