There she lays, head propped up slightly, feet gently sloped down, resting next to Mt. Adams who towers above like a prince coming in for the kiss.
As I drive north on Hwy 141 from my home in BZ Corner towards Trout Lake, Washington there is a stellar view of Sleeping Beauty and you can see how the peak got her name many years ago. She is a beauty to look at from the valley floor for sure, but that view pales in comparison to the view you get as you come out of the timber on that final few feet of the hike and you find yourself looking directly into the side of Mt. Adams. It almost seems as if you are equal to Mt. Adams but the reality is that you will be standing at 4,600 feet and Mt. Adams towers at 12,256. Regardless, it is a very impressive site.
Of course, I always try to do this hike on the clearest of days for the opportunity to take in the expansiveness of the view. As you rotate in a circle, you’ll see all the major mountains of the region. St. Helens, Rainier, Hood, Washington, Jefferson, Bachelor, Sisters and several lesser known but wonderful places like Grayback. Washington state is called the Evergreen State and you will see why from atop Sleeping Beauty as you look down on the sea of green with mountains popping out from it here and there like massive islands.
The fire lookout atop Sleeping Beauty was built in 1931 and was still present until the early 60’s. Locals talk of how the lookout was removed in an instant. Dynamite! It was simply blown to pieces which also removed a bit of her face. Ouch! There is very little evidence remaining of that structure. Another fun fact is that there is a grave marker up there. Peek around and see if you can find it and learn the name of the buried on Sleeping Beauty. I will give no hints.
It generally takes me 45 minutes to climb from the trailhead to the summit. The hike itself is less than a mile and your elevation gain is right at 1K feet. I consider that moderately steep, but because of how short the hike is most folks can make it just fine. And while the trail is steep in places, it is very well maintained. You get to hike through the forest canopy and then the last little section has you do a couple switch-backs into the clear views of the surrounding region.
Most vehicles can drive all the way to the trailhead, although the last couple hundred yards gets a little bumpy. While a high clearance vehicle is not needed, it would not be prudent to drive a low clearance rig all the way up. If your vehicle is a little low, just park down the road and walk the last couple hundred yards. On your drive into the trailhead you will cross Trout Lake Creek, which is half of the White Salmon River.
After your hike I’d highly encourage you to re-fuel your body with a little something at the Trout Lake Station (great burgers and fries) or a tasty treat at the new Trout Lake Tacos food cart located just across from the post office. For those needing a sugar fix, head back to BZ Corner (right across the street from our rafting biz on Hwy 141) to Three Bucks Coffee which serves up the best milkshakes you could hope for.
The Columbia River Gorge is full of spectacular hikes, and if you’d like one that is a little less traveled and gives you the most commanding views, Sleeping Beauty is just what you are looking for.
As always, never hesitate to pop me a note with any and all questions about fun things to do in the Gorge and if you are looking for a great time rafting the White Salmon or Klickitat Rivers, you know who to call!
Mark Zoller – MarkZ@ZooRaft.com