Last weekend I finally made it to the summit of McClure Mountain, a prominent high point here in Twisp near my home. I stare at McClure’s broad profile all day long while I work and have been eager to get up there. McClure was home to a fire lookout cabin sometime in the 1930s but much like Bridge Creek, little information is known about the site.
Though a road winds all the way along McClure’s southeast shoulder to the top, it crosses through private land and isn’t open for public use. The road is used primarily for the maintenance of communication and radio equipment on the summit. The private land owner is actually a neighbor and I likely could have chatted with him about hiking the road. Instead, I pulled out a map and looked for alternate routes, noticing that McClure is at the end of a very prominent ridge extending west to Lookout Mountain Road. There’s nothing I love more than a new challenge and a good ridgeline ramble, so I put together a route completely on National Forest land.
I started near Alder Creek off Lookout Mountain road, scrambled up a steep hillside to gain the ridge, then meandered along the ridgeline, climbing over five high points before finally reaching McClure. The route itself was reasonably short, only about 3.3 miles one way, but like most cross country rambles it was slow going and took me a bit over 5 hours round trip.
The crux of the hike was the beginning—the climb up from Lookout Mountain Road to the first ridgeline high point covered about 800′ in 0.4 miles. Whew, it was a doozy! I slowly picked my way up using deer trails and stopped every few feet to soak up the beautiful balsamroot bursting all over the hillside.
Once on top, there was a short descent and ascent to the next high point, and the next one, and the next one. The ridgeline was a bit like hiking on a pie crust, though the undulating terrain wasn’t steep or tough. To the north was forest and to the south wide open terrain. It was easy to stay on course and traverse around the forested sections.
For most of the route I followed game trails along the ridge, always a fun way to travel. The balsamroot was absolutely spectacular in both Smith and Booth Canyons and the hills were a dazzling wash of yellow. This gorgeous cross country route has been one of my favorite outings this season and it was fun to look back at Lookout Mountain with Oval Peak towering behind it.
The summit of McClure is filled with radio and communication equipment and isn’t the most photogenic, but the views are huge and the broad summit takes some time to explore. I found a lot of old wooden debris on the north side of the summit and wondered to myself if it could be lookout debris. I think the chances are slim but who knows?
I spent some time on the summit with Hudson admiring the views of the Valley below. I stare up at McClure all day long so it was fun for a change to sit on top and stare down at the little place I get to call home. I guess that’s why I like climbing peaks. Each one is an opportunity to see things from a whole different scale and an entirely new perspective. For me, it’s always a refreshing and humbling experience.
Date Completed: 5/8/21
Distance (RT): 6.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,340′
High Point: 4,616′