Exploring Mt. Pete
In recent months I have been hiking and exploring places in our area that I have never been. We are fortunate to live in an area that provides such a variety of terrain. One moment you can be walking on the rocky beaches of the Puget Sound and later that same day you can find yourself hiking in a rain forest or on a mountain top. I use these outdoor excursions as a way to break up my everyday routine, and remind myself of how lucky we are to live in the Pacific Northwest.
A few weeks ago I came across a hike located just outside of Enumclaw. It is just 29 miles away from Tacoma, and I wanted to share it with you. The locals call it Mt. Pete, but it goes by several names including, Mt. Peak, Pinnacle Peak, and the Cal Magnusson Trail. Choose the name you like best, they are all acceptable.
The peak was originally named after Pete Chorak, a Yugoslavian immigrant, who settled in Enumclaw in 1911. He later donated the property to the city of Enumclaw and from about 1929-1971 it became known as “Pinnacle Peak” and was home to a fire lookout tower.
This is a 2.4 mile hike round trip and it won’t disappoint. The northern trail, known as the “Cal Magnusson Trail”, ascends 1058ft in just over one mile. This is quite a workout but don’t let that deter you from making the hike, it can be done by all ages in about 2 hours. We visited the trail, this past Mother’s Day and saw families with three generations all hiking together. I had a conversation with one hiker who proudly informed me that he was four years old.
The trail is a very steady climb that never really flattens out until you reach the top. It is quite rocky and at points has old growth trees with roots that crop up in the trail. Photo opportunities present themselves everywhere.
Mt. Pete was formed from a volcanic outcropping and there is of evidence of past volcanic activity in many places along the trail. As you near the top you come across columnar basalt that protrudes out from the side of the hill. At first glance they look like manmade concrete columns, but in fact they are the result of a slow thick lava flow that cooled rapidly and fractured creating a very large honeycomb shaped group of columns that look similar to a beehive. These columns form vertically or horizontally, and have anywhere from 3 to 12 sides and can be very skinny or quite wide depending on the rate at which they cooled. At this point on the trail they have formed horizontally, but when you reach the top you will notice the columns are vertical and stick of the ground.
When you reach the top you will see the concrete footings from the old fire tower. They have been converted into nice benches where you can rest, eat a snack, and soak in the beauty of your surroundings. The views from the tower were probably excellent in the past, but over time the trees have grown up and blocked much of the view. However, if you explore the peak a bit there are several smaller trails that lead to outlooks that provide excellent views of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding area.
While hiking this trail I noticed that every person we came across was friendly and had a smile on their face. You could tell everyone was not only enjoying the beauty of the trail, but also getting away from the stresses of their own everyday routines!
Credited photos courtesy of : Tyson Gillard & outdoorproject.com To see more visit the Outdoor Project’s Mt. Peak (Pinnacle Peak) Trip Report at outdoorproject.com/adventures/hiking-backpacking/mount-peak-pinnacle-peak