I’ve been eyeing Red Mountain for a couple of years now – seeing from Snoqualmie, Guye, and Kendall last year, and it’s a Home Court 100 to boot. Took the Commonwealth trail from the PCT trailhead near Alpental. I love this trail as its a gentle incline to the river, and beautiful scenery. It’s amazing to see the large flat area in between all the peaks. We have the trail all to ourselves most of the day until we neared the 5000-foot mark where the cutoff to Red Mountain begins. Unfortunately, it was a hot one, and the sun exposure up the footpath made for a long, hot, slow day.
The trail gets interesting about 1/3rd the way up, some good scrambly horizontal traverses across roots, and cracks in the rocks. After reaching a ridge/point, the path goes upwards, Class 2 with lots of loose rock. It’s easy to lose the trail upwards, and it was also interesting to see a few groves of very large trees growing into the steep rock – fortunately, they provided a needed respite of shade from the sun.
About 500 feet from the summit, we encountered a lone mountain goat. It was tagged with a GPS tracker. We were in a steep section under some trees and moved off the trail. The goat looked at us for a bit and walked down the path passing within two feet of us. Later he climbed back towards the summit to lay in some shade. It was amazing to have it come so close to us. We were slightly apprehensive as it is a wild animal, and there was an attack some 10 years ago in the Olympics, but he appeared friendly and was just wanting to pass us down. The views from the summit are amazing – 360 all around. This is a super great scramble, but be skilled in route finding. I also suggest wearing a helmet as parties above can unwittingly dislodge rocks – as we experienced. Lots of loose rock all the way up. We signed the summit register but did not find a USGS marker. The video in the link below shows the route taken along with pictures indicating the terrain, slope, and views.