Native Land of the: Cowlitz
8m 2,093ft gain
Not to be confused with the ultra prominent Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, this Mount Mitchell is a hidden gem in southwestern Washington! It was once popular but private land owners cut off access to the trailhead in 2011. Around 2015 a local hiker named Don Nelson found an abandoned trail on the west side of the mountain and revived it! Now the incredible view from the summit can be enjoyed again although its pretty rough and sees few visitors. I would have never found it until spotting it from the WA-503. I knew right away it would have a great view of Saint Helens and it absolutely delivers!
1st Trip: 5/31/21
Monday after work trip to a spot I’d been eyeing all year. It’s pretty close to home but I needed to follow a gpx track on the forest roads that led to the “new” trailhead. It looks more like a dispersed campsite with room for three or four cars and I had it to myself. The start of the trail is very steep and brushy but it soon flattens out before gradually gaining elevation to the summit. I decided to follow a gpx route that bushwhacks up to Sugarloaf Mountain and rides the ridgeline over to Mitchell.
The thick bushwhack and scramble was not ideal but it was over after 400ft and the view was worth a few cuts.
Heading over to Mount Mitchell still felt like bushwhack until reaching the saddle between the peaks. From there it’s easy to follow to the wide open and rocky summit! There’s expansive views in every direction with andesite crags all around the summit.
The best view was certainly towards Mount Saint Helens towering over the Swift Reservoir only ten miles away with Mount Rainier also in frame!
There was also plenty of wildflowers providing some lovely foreground!
The route back to the trailhead is easy to follow if you avoid Sugarloaf and instead pass under its impressive rock columns. Knowing this I’d certainly return with Moose! This may be my new favorite view in the area especially considering the solitude. Certainly worth the wait and effort!