Written in 1991.
Access and conditions have changed significantly by 2004 on several of these.
See *Note this* regarding private property below. Don't go getting into trouble.
The Mountaineers have a number of awards, complete with "pins" that are bestowed on individuals when they succeed in climbing all the peaks on various lists of mountains. For those unfamiliar with the Mountaineer pins, there are several such awards: "The Six Majors" (for climbing the 5 volcanoes plus Mount Olympus), "The Snoqualmie Lodge Peaks" (20 summits near Snoqualmie Pass), and "The Tacoma Irish Cabin Peaks" (24 summits near Rainier). The Everett branch also has their list, and the Olympics folks theirs. Recently a "Cascades Classics" pin has been added for climbing some of the highest peaks in the state.
Harvey Manning, the guru and gadfly of guidebooks and greenbelts, in his usual amusing fashion, detailed the history of another interesting concept, "The Blob Peak Pin," in a recent letter to the Signpost editor (August 1991, p. 8). His list of three "peaks" for this award (Little Si, Fuller Mountain, and Cedar Butte) is an excellent beginning. But this small thought deserves expansion.
Another inspiration for an expanded list of pint-sized peaks came last winter when psyched-hiker Karen Sykes jokingly pointed out that, "All this talk about the 100 Highest Peaks in Washington is fine, but I'm really more interested in climbing the lowest 100 peaks in the state." Most of the "mountains" on the following list would likely qualify for the lowest 100 as well. None of these summits exceeds 3000 feet (except The Blob, itself).
To make this a seriously whimsical concept, the following modest summits are suggested for
THE BLOB PEAK PIN :
(Green, Cedar, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, South Fork Stilliguamish River Peaks)
1. Sugarloaf Mtn (1490) USGS Cumberland
2. Cedar Butte (1880+) USGS Chester Morse Lake
3. Little Si (1576) USGS North Bend
4. Fuller Mtn (1840+) USGS Mount Si
5. Brew Hill (2540+) USGS Hobart
6. "Highest Rock" (1600+) USGS Monroe
7. Haystack Mtn (2715) USGS Gold Bar
8. "Toc Rock" (1443) USGS Index
9. Iron Mtn (1120+) USGS Granite Falls
10. Dahlberg Mtn (1880+) USGS Riley Lake
The Second Ten (Blob Peak Pin, Cum Laude)
(North Fork Stillaguamish, Skagit, Samish River Peaks)
11. Ebey Hill (1780+) USGS Arlington East
12. Stimson Hill (2892) USGS Stimson Hill
13. Mt Washington (2698) USGS Stimson Hill
14. Bald Mtn (2486) USGS Stimson Hill
15. Scott Mtn (1620+) USGS Conway
16. Little Mountain (934) USGS Mount Vernon
17. Burlington Hill (480+) USGS Mount Vernon
18. Sterling Hill (380+) USGS Mount Vernon
19. Butler Hill (886) USGS Alger
20. "Hiss Hill" (1315) USGS Lake Whatcom
These 20 bumpkins all have their own various individual shapes, views, quirks, and attractions. Many of these rock dollops (Fuller, Stimson, Scott, Little, and Butler) are nicely described in the various Footsore books. Not to give it all away, but here are a few more hints.
Sugarloaf Mountain 1490 (USGS Cumberland)
Logged out by 2004.
This is a delightful woods walk and no secret to the horse folks locally. A visit afterward to the nearby Green River Gorge completes a nice afternoon.
Go south through Issaquah to Hobart, continuing south to the Cedar River at Landsburg, then up and over the ridge and down into the Green River watershed. Sugarloaf is visible on your left as you descend. Stop at the Ravensdale Market and turn left, east, toward Selleck. Ravensdale/Georgetown can also be reached easily from HW 169 (Renton-Black Diamond Road) going east at the Kent-Kangley Road.
The "trailhead" is 2.7 miles east of the Ravensdale Market and a few feet past the 320th SE sign, on the right. It starts as a gravel road blocked by large rocks. Walk south on the road, passing under 4(!) sets of transmission lines. 200 yards beyond the lines is a left turn marked by a bullet-riddled washing machine. This is it. A smile-provoking grassy lane, fringed with foxglove (in season), progresses to a rocky path then to dirt as it climbs through pleasant forest. At 0.8 miles the way flattens. You can take a left here on an ancient road, but better, go 100 yards farther to a path on the left (the two ways ultimately merge above) to the wooded top. Eventually, a couple of the clustered summits that show as the 1480+ foot contour are reached. The Cumberland quad assigns 1490 to the highest point.
Cedar Butte 1880+ (USGS Chester Morse Lake)
We will leave this one a minor mystery here. Explore.
Little Si 1576 (USGS North Bend)
Trailhead changed by 2004 to just a little farther up the road.
This is a sentimental favorite of mine since it was my first summit ever, climbed with the Boy's Club out of Camp Waskowitz right across the river, as a 9-year old. Immediately after crossing the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, approaching as you would to the "Big Si" trail, take a left and drive less than a 1/4-mile to identify a signed trailhead on the right. Go back to the bridge and park, then return, following first up an old logging road that fades into the trail then enters the "Canyon of Sighs" between Si and Little Si, a hauntingly religious place.
Fuller Mountain 1840+ (USGS Mount Si)
Fuller is cute beyond belief. Take the North Fork Snoqualmie River county road for 8 miles or so from North Bend to the Spur 10 gates, and a great view of the objective. Park here, or on April through November weekends when the gate is open, drive to the south base of this hump. There is a trail around the south to the west side, but going straight up from the rock quarry on the SE side wasn't so bad either. Be sure and go to the viewpoint one bump north of the true summit.
Brew Hill 2540+ (USGS Hobart)
"A wart on a boil," a shrug on the shoulder of Taylor Mountain (see Signpost, March 1991, p. 36). Park at a gate on the left, 2 miles south of I-90 on HW 18. Walk the logging road 2 miles SE to a transmission-line service road which is followed south to very near the summit. Good views.
High Rock 651 (USGS Monroe)
Very much private property by 2004. Forget it.
Either High Rock (651 feet) or "Highest Rock" (1600+), just north of King Lake, qualify. Both are on USGS Monroe. High Rock is really more of a blip than a blob. It can be reached in a 1.5-mile walk up North High Rock Road to a way-trail from HW 203, starting one mile south of the Skykomish River. The road twists and turns to within 150 vertical feet of the summit. Great views of the Sky-Snoqualmie confluence area. It may involve access on a private road, though no such signs were seen in 1991.*
"Highest Rock" (1600+) is really more of a "blop" or a "splat" than a blob and is unnamed on the map, but it is the climax of the Monroe quad, and offers a fine vantage, now that it's been Weyerhaeusered. On a clear day, the sweeping view from Mount Si down to the Issaquah Adirondacks to Seattle to Mt Pilchuck to way up the Sky valley is special, if you ignore the clearcut you're standing in. The map tips off the route from the south. Walk the powerline by point 1182 to the road to avoid "private" signs.* Take the side trip to King Lake.
"Toc Rock" 1443 (USGS Index)
Logged by 2004.
The "Table of Contents (Toc) Rock" is a curious knob in the shadow of Mt. Index. It pops into view like a piece of toast popping out of a toaster as you drive east out of Gold Bar, and is especially prominent shortly beyond, from the bridge over the River Sky. The old 15-minute quad lists this unnamed point as 1443 feet, while the new 7.5-minute map shows it crudely as the 1440+ contour. I like a precise number on a mountain top myself. The west edge of the new map pierces the summit.
Drive east from Gold Bar, past Zeke's and just past No Name Creek (now named and signed), to FS Road 62 which leads up to 1100 feet in 1.3 miles. Park at a spur on the right that is blocked by a maple. Here the trouble begins. From the south, the summit is well guarded. There's brush aplenty, blocking vertical rock walls, criss-crossing logs, scratching hemlock branches, and some class three climbing in steepish chutes. It's a short, but honest North Cascades bash. There's probably an easier route up the east ridge. From the top are decent views up the Sky, and if you part the right trees, over toward Persis, Haystack, and Ragged Ridge. A southern Washington logging company has nailed signs to some of the trees along FS 62 advising "No Wood Cutting - No Trespassing."*
Haystack Mountain 2715 (USGS Gold Bar)
This solid muscular blob swells south above the town of Gold Bar. It has been logged recently enough to give good views up and down the Skykomish valley. Go soon, young trees have a way of growing up. Take FS Road 62 as per "Toc Rock," continuing onto the USGS Gold Bar quad. Park at the overgrowing spur that corkscrews counter-clockwise up to the summit.
Iron Mountain 1120+ (USGS Granite Falls)
2004. Private property. Forget it.
Iron is the next-to-nothing blob next to Granite Falls that is being quarried away to even less. There is a nice walking road with a minor scramble to the top with open views to the west. A gravel company owns the land.* An accomplished photographer under the right conditions can make this place look "other worldly."
Dahlberg Mountain 1880+ (USGS Riley Lake)
Logged by 2004.
Here's a "new" named peak that shows up for the first time ever on the new 1989 7.5-minute map. It can be accessed and walked from a gate at Masonic Park, about 5 miles up the Mountain Loop HW from Granite Falls, first on a non-FS logging road, then trailless bushwhacking.* Take a map. Unfortunately, the summit is treed, but this blob is such a worthless goal that it must be included on this list.
Ebey Hill 1780+ (USGS Arlington East)
Private property access problems by 2004.
Barely bulging east above Arlington, Ebey is the first named summit of the North Fork-South Fork Stillaguamish divide. Find Jim Creek Road (4 miles from Arlington toward Darrington, just past the ramshackle Trafton store) and follow it 4.1 miles to Road SL-0-3000 on the left which accesses the "high country" in another 4-plus miles. There are 6 summits here over 1700 feet. Walk each summit spur to its own unique view, allowing vistas from Baker to Rainier and out to Puget Sound, and beyond. On a clear day, you can see for Everett.
Stimson Hill 2892 (USGS Stimson Hill)
There's a whole quad named after this blob just north of Arlington. Mountain-data specialist Stephen Fry lists it as a "Major Mountain," since it rises more than 1000 feet above its surroundings in all directions (and in fact, Stimson has a stunning prominence of 1852 feet as it drops, then rises to its "next higher mountain," Frailey Mtn). Take HW 9 north out of Arlington to Bryant. Turn east on Grandview Road for 4.6 miles, then north on Cedarview Road for 1.5 miles looping over Rock Creek to the unsigned, gated Stimson Hill Road which can be walked to the summit, which Karen and I did, unfortunately on a foggy 12/18/88 day. Luckily, Richard Brayton, posted some stunning photos here of peaks to be appreciated from Stimson's summit.
Mount Washington 2698 (USGS Stimson Hill)
This is the buddy summit of Stimson, making this formation a double-blob. The route is a more-or-less interesting off-trail climb (take map and compass) from the 1450-foot corner on the Stimson Hill road, then up Washington's SE ridge. It's a Rice Crispie climb as dry branches covering the hillside "snap, crackle, and pop" underfoot. Eventually nice views to the south and west (much better than Stimson) greet the climber near the top. The summit ridge to the high point goes on longer than you think it should. The summit benchmark calls this "Bald Mtn."
Bald Mountain 2486 (USGS Stimson Hill)
This one is a classic. Startling, even. It's the best-looking hill on the list, an isolated derby-shaped glob of hard rock that defied the Puget Glacier, similar to Fuller. The approach is from Oso (on a dirt road), or up Lake Cavanaugh Road (paved) off HW 9, north of Arlington (turning left on a logging road at 8.8 miles from HW 9). There used to be a wooded cross-country route in March 1989 (now recently logged) up the left side of the cliffs to gain the more gentle back side. Good views. A descent down the east or NE side is steep and not recommended. Rock climbers will find lots of entertainment here.
Scott Mountain 1620+ (USGS Conway)
Private property access problems by 2004.
This is a 3+ scoop banana-split blob. Even though Scott is a lower point on the same mountain mass, it is preferable to the higher, Devils Mountain, which is covered with view-blocking trees (but the loggers are getting close). Approach from the north from Mt. Vernon on Little Mtn Road to Amick Road. Keep an eye on the map. The west approach has seen a lot of logging activity lately.
Little Mountain 934 (USGS Mount Vernon)
Mount Vernon's mountain. There is a nice woods walk on the road from the N and E, or up a trail from the south (signed, one mile up Hickox Road--take the South Mt Vernon exit off I-5), both leading to the city park atop with a gazebo lookout. A fine panorama of the Skagit River Delta and Puget islands awaits the hiker on clear days.
Burlington Hill 480+ (USGS Mount Vernon)
Just north of town. They liked this blob so much they named a city after it. It was obviously once one of the San Juan Islands until the Skagit River silted in the delta. There's a walking road to the top from town. Good views. "Private Property" signs here.*
Sterling Hill 380+ (USGS Mount Vernon)
Just NE of Burlington Hill and the lowest summit on this list. You've got to love this one. Another cute island. There is a meager trail up the SE side from just north of the old quarry. Watch out for the bull. Private access.* Also, no summit views.
Butler Hill 886 (USGS Alger)
Another double-blob. The east peak of this clunker ("The Maid") is currently being shaved. If you wait long enough, perhaps the true summit here will open up as well. Approach from the west on the old lookout road, or sniff out the route to the east summit for views.
"Hiss Hill" 1315 (USGS Lake Whatcom)
Just north of Alger, Hiss is now a defoliated knob that offers excellent views in all directions, from Mount Baker to the sea. It is not named on the map, but is unmistakable from I-5, 10 miles north of Burlington. A walking road leads to the top from just east of Alger. Ownership unknown.*
To earn the ultimate, "The Blob Peak Pin, Summit Cum Laude ," a true blobomaniac would finish off by climbing THE BLOB in the Southern Pickets, which Fred Beckey tries to rename "The Rake," in "Red Fred" (Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 3, page 88), not necessarily after himself.
Note: A few of these blobs are ultimately a wilderness experience of sorts (Dahlberg, Washington, "Toc Rock," and Bald had no human path to the top), so it is recommended that the appropriate 7.5-minute USGS quad, as listed, goes along in your pack, as well as the other essentials (but no plastic flags, please). A map is worth a thousand "you-can't-miss-its." Or, as the explorer Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you're going, sometimes you end up someplace else." Pioneer Maps, in their new location in Bellevue, has a full stock of quads, if you don't want to wait for an order from the USGS. Or go make a copy from the maps at the UW or Seattle Public Library.
( Written in the days before Topozone.)
* Some of these summits are on, or accessed over, private land, and consequently it is the writer's [and Signpost's] clearly-stated recommendation that one only look at, and contemplate these particular blobs, rather than climb them. It goes with saying, that if one feels compelled to investigate, getting permission from the owner to visit his land is the responsible and legal thing to do.
The obviously overlooked mega-blobs (e.g. Cougar Mountain/Wilderness Peak, any of the Tigers [except the one that is over 3000 feet], Taylor Mountain, Chuckanut/Blanchard, and Frailey Mountain) or Mount Erie or Squak could be substituted in lieu of the private "peaks."
Have fun with these, if you are into little. Many are great peaks for kids, and only a half day round trip, door to door. They are good winter goals, when the days are short, and the snow is low, and the profile of many hikers, including the writer's, assumes the blobby shape of these bumps.