Mileage: 3.2 RT
Elevation Gain/High:1365/5685 ft
Map: Green Trails No. 301 Randle
Favorite Eats After Hike: Pack A Cooler
As always, practice Leave No Trace. Pretty Please.
5/30/2016 Decided to try out High Rock for the first time on my way home from HWY 12. I was surprised to see so many people in spite one of the worst forest roads I have driven in a long time. And I drive a lot of them. Not sure how 84 could be worse than 85 as mentioned in the crazy directions.
Because this was my second hike today, I didn’t arrive until 1pm and the parking was obnoxious. I parked down the road and decided to take a nap before heading up in hopes that things would clear out a bit.
I started up at 2pm and reached the top about 2:45. The trail was full of teens with speakers, little ones on shoulders, and touristy hikers with just water bottles.
Despite my whining, the view was amazing. I had a great time with the map trying to see where I had hiked early in the day on Tongue Mountain, as well as Saturday on Juniper Ridge. and remembering the Wonderland as I took in Rainier.
Skies were blue and we live in an amazing place.
There are just a few patches of snow left on the trail and a handful of downed trees. Nothing worth stepping off trail for. Not sure I’ll take that road again and this is definitely a middle of the week kind of trail due to the crowds.
Directions:From Elbe, about 40 miles south of Tacoma along State Route 7, follow SR-706 east for 10.1 miles. When you pass Ashford, it is approximately two more miles to your next turn, a right onto Kernahan Road.
Follow the road 1.4 miles. Here it curves to the left, and becomes Skate Creek Road, which you follow for 3.3 miles. Turn onto FR-84, a smooth dirt road. Note that the sign for FR-84 is not visible when approaching the trailhead this way. After turning onto FR-84, continue on for 6.5 miles. Stay right when it forks. You are now on Road 8440. 2.6 miles along 8440, the road levels off and gets broad enough to park a dozen or more vehicles. This is Towhead Gap. Park here, at elevation 4320 feet. No pass is required. Expect some crazy parking on both sides of the forest road. High Rock and the cabin are visible from the east side of the parking area.
It is possible to drive up to Towhead Gap from the other side, using Road 85, but take caution! Road 85 is considerably worse than Road 84; a couple of the potholes on Road 85 large enough to cause trip-ending damage, even to a high-clearance vehicle.