Earlier this year, I came across a stack of hiking books similar to our famous "103 Hikes", but for our neighbor, WA state. Sourdough Mountain trail caught my attention as offering good views, easy road access, and being in a very pretty area. In July my wife Julia and I made an attempt at this mountain, but had to turn around due to snow conditions. The trail is well-trodden and easy to follow, but, unlike in BC, there are absolutely no other trail markers. So when the footpath disappears under snow (and there was a lot of it then), it becomes hard to follow.
The trailhead is in the little township of Diablo which is interesting by itself. It is a site of a large hydro dam and power station. The town is almost always devoid of people, but well-monitored by video cameras. A short trail leads to the Diablo Lake Dam, a rather impressive engineering feat:
You can walk across the dam, a rare opportunity, and stare down from its 100-meter height.
Sourdough Mountain trail rises steeply, gaining about 1000m over the first 6km. The trail is well-graded and mostly forested. There are a few small creeks, but generally the water sources are unreliable until you reach this junction near Sourdough Creek:
After crossing the creek, the trail levels off leading through beautiful alpine meadows:
Unfortunately, at this time most of the flowers were already gone. But the views down towards Diablo Lake were rewarding and well worth the effort:
Then, after another short series of switchbacks, the summit is reached. It has a fire lookout which was being prepared for winter by a couple of workers.
From the summit, one can see the full length of Ross Lake and Hozomeen:
Other prominent peaks in the area include Colonial Peak (above Diablo Lake), Pyramid Peak, Jack Mountain and others. This is the view to the West:
After about an hour at the summit we headed back:
The day was quite hot, so we made another rest break at the creek before starting down the innumerable switchbacks. After another couple of hours we made it back to the trailhead, having met about a dozen people going up.
Total elevation gain was 1500m, distance - 18km, trail time - 10 hours. This included quite a few food/water/photo stops.
On the way back to Vancouver the next day we saw this little chapel by the road: