Ascent of Potato Hill on 2014-08-22

Climber: Jason Smith

Date:Friday, August 22, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Potato Hill
    Elevation:5387 ft / 1641 m

Ascent Trip Report

We did this hike/off-trail hike on our annual trip to Mount Adams. The PCT was in good condition. The off-trail route up Potato Hill was fairly easy to navigate, although we relied too much on the hiking guidebook. If doing this hike, don't bother following the guidebook's instructions or trail map. It will only mislead you.

Instead just hike down the PCT from Forest Road 5603 and look for an old looging road venturing off to the right. This logging road actually joins up with the PCT in a "Y" fashion, and both roads (only ~30 ft apart) meet up together anyway. You will know it is the right road, as it has wooden posts embedded into the ground to prevent vehicles from driving onto the PCT.

Just follow the road a ways, it will at first head uphill gradually before it starts to head downhill. As it starts to head down, follow it a ways further untill you find a good place to head off trail up Potato Hill. Any place will do, just head up for the top. It is easy walking through an open forest down here. The guidebook's map is wrong, as it tells you to hike much further up the PCT and venture off-trail up the west side (the wrong side, as that side is heavily wooded almost all the way up). Instead, you must venture off-trail northward from the logging road, ascending the south side of Potato Hill.

At the summit, we enjoyed views of Mt Adams, the Muddy Fork Lava Flows, and views to the remote east, the Yakima Reservation lands. Be aware of antills at the summit. We found one giant anthill on the south crater rim, and almost didn't see it.

This is a great hike for the views, huckleberries (tons of them), fairly easy and straightforward off-trail experience (great off trail trip for a first-timer), and best of all, solitude! We saw absolutely no one on this hike, not even on the PCT section. You will likely have this hike all to yourself, and while hiking off-trail to the summit, there is probably less than 5% chance of seeing anyone else making their way to the top.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:550 ft / 167 m
    Route:South side, just west of the reservation boundary
    Trailhead:4837 ft / 1474 m
    Quality:1 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Thunderstorms brewing nearby

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