Tonga Ridge & Mount Sawyer (Central Cascades, Alpine Lakes Wilderness)

Trailhead: Tonga Ridge Trail 1058
Distance: 5.7 miles, out & back
Elevation Gain: 1,614 feet
Summit Elevation: 5,495 feet
Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass

This is my calling. #MasculinityRising

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Date Visited: 27 AUG 2017

The Tonga Ridge Trail is rather gentle and straightforward.

It shouldn’t be too hard for most people, however there will be some brief spots where the intensity of the hike will go up. At the very least you will get a good workout and hopefully see some berries and wildflowers.

One thing’s for sure, this place is chipmunk heaven. You’ll probably spot the occasional grouse.

Most of the trail is woody, dropping sharply along both sides of the ridge. and there are few opportunities for a view until you begin the actual climb to the summit.

About two miles into the trail, you should come across a small cairn that marks the path heading up the mountain towards the summit of Mount Sawyer.

Be ready to work.

If the cairn is not there, the junction heading uphill is still pretty obvious to those paying attention to where they’re walking.

From this point on, you’ll be climbing a steep grade until you reach the summit, about 1,000 feet above you.

You can’t get lost. The path is narrow and direct. Just keep climbing and you’ll be rewarded with some amazing views.

When we went, the sky was hazy and smoky from the wildfires burning near Cle Elum. It’s amazing how much smoke will spread.

This has been an uncharacteristically hazy summer for the Pacific Northwest, but it’s primarily from the numerous wildfires which have burned throughout the region this season.

I intend to return on a clear day since a summit at this height will allow you to see all of the surrounding peaks of the Cascades, as well as Rainier looming in the distance.

A little smoky on the top of #MountSawyer, but still a fantastic view! Elevation: 5,495 ft #MasculinityRising

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We were originally going to take the Evergreen Lookout Trail, but the roadway was washed out about 6 miles from the trailhead.

My Trail Log:
3:30 PM – Arrive at trailhead.
4:35 PM – Reach junction (cairn) for Mount Sawyer summit.
5:15 PM – Arrive at summit.
6:28 PM – Begin descent.
7:00 PM – Reach junction for Tonga Ridge.
7:50 PM – Arrive at trailhead.

Trailhead: Tonga Ridge Trail 1058

Passes & Permits:
1) Northwest Forest Pass – $30 annually
2) Day & Overnight Visitors (May 15th to November 15th) – Free

Regulations: Alpine Lakes Wilderness Regulations

Children: Not recommended for climb to summit of Mount Sawyer.

Dogs: Yes, kept on leash.

Overnight Stay Allowed: Yes.

Water: None on trail.

Facilities: None. Open air pit toilet in woods near trailhead.

For trail information, contact:
Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
Skykomish Ranger District | 360-677-2414

Passes & Permits FAQ

Washington Trails Association

Always check the road and trail conditions before you go.

Nick Hagood
Masculinity Rising

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