We hiked this trail before the Middle Fork Road paving project started for the summer, so be warned that Rooster Mountain, along with Otter Falls, Mailbox and the Middle Fork trail may be inaccessible. There is access to some of these trails on the weekends depending on how far down Middle Fork Road you are traveling. More info about the closures can be found here (http://www.wta.org/signpost/road-closures-on-the-middle-fork-snoqualmie).
If you love great summit views, fording creeks and feeling like you’re lost on old, possibly haunted logging roads, Rooster Mountain is the trail for you. As previous trip reports have profiled, this is not Washington’s most well traveled, labeled or maintained trail by any means and often you’ll find yourself wondering if you are on a trail at all.
Rooster Mountain looks as if it has not been hiked on in quite some time (further supported by the last trip report being almost a year ago). There are plenty of blowdowns and washouts, overgrowth and a lack of signage make navigation difficult, and the only tracks you are going to see are not going to be human. This is more than likely the side effect of Rooster Mountain being a lesser known trail at a location that requires a lengthy commute down the tourist deflecting Middle Fork Road, a road famous for its cavernous pot holes that have been known to swallow shopping carts, tire warranties and small animals (as mentioned earlier though, this summer’s paving project is working toward cutting down on such incidents). If your car can survive the commute though, the seclusion of a trail like Rooster Mountain can be quite nice, especially if you’re looking for a quieter hike in the Snoqualmie region to counteract the foot traffic of trails like Mount Si and Rattlesnake.
You begin the journey to Rooster Mountain by taking the Taylor River Road trail for about a half-mile before veering off onto the Quartz Creek trail. The Quartz Creek trail unfortunately marks the end of signage for the trail, which is problematic since Quartz Creek is not your final destination. After hiking an inclined mile or so, you will come to a clearing and a split in the road. The path on the left leads to the often whispered about, but seldom seen Lake Blethen, while the path on the right (at least in theory) takes you to the also seldom seen and only rumored to exist Rooster Mountain. As I said, signage is not present for the split, but you’ll take the path on the right, which diverts you onto a series of old logging roads. The majority of the trail after this will be switchbacks that require you to ford a number of creeks, culverts and valleys as you snake your way up the side of the mountain.
You will encounter snow around the three-mile mark and this early in the season, I’d say Microspikes and poles would be advised as the snowpack only deepens the higher up you go. Eventually, the snow, uneven terrain, bouts of bushwhacking and a strong sense that you might be lost start to take a bit of a toll and right about the time despair sets in at the four mile mark, you come to the last split on the trail, which we dubbed Disappointment Creek.
Disappointment Creek had a deflated birthday balloon (contributing to the theory that Rooster Mountain might be at least casually haunted) and a lot of broken summit dreams in it. Even if the creepy deflated birthday balloon isn’t in the creek to provide a landmark, you should be able to recognize it as the point in the hike where your brain gives up and retreats in on itself, taking to murmuring about all the good food you’re going to eat when you get home. This is denial/comfort stage of the hike.
Disappointment Creek will offer you two paths, both of which split off into a morbid dual nothingness. But you still have to pick a path if you don’t want to walk back to the car in defeat. A sharp tailing left seems to crawl upward and disappear into the mountain, while on the right, you are offered what essentially amounts to the continuation of the path, which also seems to lead nowhere. The sharp left is what you want to take, but you have reached the point in your journey where improvisation is needed to continue. Most successful summit bids have cited bushwhacking and scrambling as necessary after this, as the trail is essentially swallowed by a steep incline and a heavy snowpack.
We tried to push on past Disappointment Creek on this path and make our way up to the summit, but we were dealing with knee-deep snow and started to feel like we were in a Werner Herzog documentary, so we turned around not too long after. You can certainly see where you might be able to power up to the summit, but it’s a tough haul in these conditions, and my hiking partner had tunnel vision for Little Caesars at this point, so there wasn’t much opposition to calling it quits. Even without getting the show stopping summit view of the Russian Butte and Bessemer Mountain, Rooster Mountain is still a fun trail that has a sort of adventurous exploratory element to it. If the trail is still accessible, we will probably return in July and take a shot at the summit again.
Overall, I think we did about ten miles in total. Trail guide say round trip should be eight, but allow an extra two miles for aimless despair meandering.