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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - McClellan Butte

Long hike through some old growth forest, interesting flowers, to a T3 rock scramble. The scramble itself is short but has quite a bit of exposure.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • It was a dry and warm day. There was some snow in the gullies near the top but they were easily passable with good footing and using just your hands. There were a couple of fallen trees across the trail but were easy to walk around, step over, or just walk down them. Both types of obstacles made it more fun for our group.  The snow will be gone in a week.

Instead of starting at the trailhead off Tinkham Road, we met at Dirty Harry's Balcony parking off I-90 exit 38. Discover passes were needed there.Then we drove about 2 miles up FS road 9020 to where the trail crosses the road. The gravel road was free of potholes and just had some loose rock but was firm. We took 3 cars and they had no problems. There are 2 pullouts at the trail crossing, plenty of room for 4-5 cars. We were the only cars parked there when we got back down. It shaved off 2.8 miles off the trip, the lower trail portion being not that interesting to walk through. Forest passes were needed on road 9020.

9020 trailhead was 2240 feet to summit 5160 feet. 2.7 miles to the summit with 2920 elevation gain. 5.5 round trip.

It started out cloudy but we hiked above the cloud line and enjoyed sunny blue skies with view of peaks popping out of the marine fog/cloud layer and a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier from the summit while butterflies flitted about.

We had a group of 6 with 2 scramble students on their first rock scramble. They had both done snow. We went a moderate pace and reached the summit in 3 hours. It took 1.5 to come down. The only gear needed was helmets on the rock scramble. 1 student was leary of the exposure and did not attempt the scramble. She waited and the bottom for us to summit and come back down to the trail. The other students wanted some guidance, mostly just moral support, but was very successful. The other 4 seasoned scramblers had no issues.

There were old growth Silver Fir trees and a variety of wildflowers along the way, bird calls, brown toads,  and a garter snake.