I decided to make use of a great weather forecast and get a summit and see some Larches in the process. I went through my list of larch hikes and decided Carne mountain would be a great option. I hadn’t been before because I’d always been a little turned off the road to get there which by all reports the last few miles are some of the worst around. Thankfully with our new Jeep which has high clearance, we made the trailhead with no issues. The road is as bad as everyone says, places where there are huge rocks embedded in and washed out areas that look like they would be very scary in the wet. The parking lot isn’t very big so most people park along the road.
drive time from Seattle
NW Forest Pass
I arrived at the trailhead around 9 and was really surprised at how many cars there were already. I knew this was a popular trailhead for overnights into Spider Meadows and it was prime larch season so I hoped I would have some solitude on the trail. The trail to Carne mountain branches off the Spider Meadows trail after the first quatre of a mile. The mountain trail heads straight up through the forest with some helpful switchbacks. After about 2 miles the trail clears out as it traverses a rock field and you get views into the valley below. It was still pretty early and this part of the trail was shaded and cold when I stopped hiking.
My first sign of larches was after another mile when I entered a high basin with larches galore and a small creek. From the bottom of the basin, you can stand in the grassy clearing and look up to the summit of Carne Mountain. The ground in the basin was crunchy and frozen as I walked through but as I climbed up from here I got into the sun and it was beautiful!
After climbing through the small basin and up to the saddle the trail splits off to the Old Glib Trail to the right and I went on the Carne Mountain on the left. The trail enters a really thick group of larches here and it feels like you are in a larch tunnel. Along the ridge, the main trail starts heading down into the valley below but for Carne mountain I stayed on the ridge following the path another 0.3 miles.
The view from the summit was definitely impressive. It was a small summit and I had to share it with two other hikers. You get a really good view of Mount Maude in the Entiat Mountains when you look North, to the west Buck Mountain looms as one of the snowiest peaks of the bunch. I spent plenty of time on the summit taking photos and enjoying the view.
I didn’t have extra time to explore the area before heading back down to the car as I had something on in Seattle that evening. I would have liked to have explored the ridge that Carne Mountain is on. On my way back down from the summit, there were now several groups of people in the basin and dogs galore. I was glad I went a little earlier to mostly miss this rush.