Susan and I set out to hike the Sleeping Beauty Trail located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Located in the South Cascades, The Sleeping Beauty Trail, though steep, is worth it, if you want a fantastic view of all the major volcanoes in the region including Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt Rainier and even Mt. Baker
The hike is a tough one, I won’t lie. After a pretty decent drive, some paved, mostly gravel, you end up at a rather remote trailhead.
The trail climbs instantly, with your first step. Though only 2.6 miles round trip, you gain 1,400 feet in the 1.3 miles you hike towards the top. Susan and I could feel it almost instantly, as the grade is quite extreme.
The trail is tree lined with Douglas firs and our old favorite, Hemlocks.
It was a beautiful and sunny day but the dense canopy kept the sun off of us for most of the climb. We made our way up and up, taking slight breaks to grab some thin air into our lungs. At this point in the hike we were at roughly 4,600 feet. Not the highest we’ve ever been by a long shot, but still, the air is thin and especially lacking when on such a steep ascent with full packs.
Ultimately, the trail starts to round its way up to a large and daunting rock formation.
At the base of this rock you are presented with a tight and well-defined wall of rocks that almost takes the look of an ancient fort.
Made from shale rock, it’s quite beautiful but be mindful, pieces of shale are very slick under your feet, especially after a rain.
We made our way up towards what was once an old fire lookout, built in 1931. Only a rope now remains of what once had to be a tough place to be posted, as it’s very high up and the winds are brisk. Removed in the 1960’s, only a weather tower remains.
We sat, enjoying our apples and water and took in the amazing views.
Small mountain shrubs live atop this perch and in the nearby trees, a collection of birds, also enjoying the view. I can only assume their ascent was much easier than ours.
We took in one last breath and descended down the shale rock, oh so gingerly.
This is an incredible and thigh-burning climb. Personally, I would not do this climb when there is snow on the ground. But, on a dry and warm day, it’s a great one