Gobbler's Knob LO, MRNP (Aug 17, 2013)

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gobblers_knob_coverConditions: Day hike & bike ride
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Mount Wow
Area: Mount Rainier, Longmire
Reference: Day Hiking Mount Rainier
Stats: 13
mi, 2785' gain (round trip) (includes almost 8 miles on a bike)

Gobber's Knob (off of West Side Rd). It's one of the few remaining fire LO's within MRNP. Seven LO's were originally built within the park; Shriner Peak (5846') in 1932; Tolmie Peak (5939') in 1933, Sunset Park ( 5530') in 1933, Gobblers Knob (5485') in 1933, Mount Fremont (7181') in 1934, Crystal Mountain (6605'), and another lookout on a knoll above Crystal Lake (6595') in 1934. Of these original 7, only 4 remain standing: Shriners, Fremont, Tolmie, and Gobbler's Knob.

So I figured a visit to Gobbler's Knob was in order. But the question was which way to approach. Should I go in from FS59 & FA5920 (Lake Christine) and the Glacier View Wilderness or the slightly longer route of West Side Road. West Side Road had the appeal of being a shorter day even with more mileage because I could bike nearly 4 miles of West Side Road. I figured it might be more scenic as well. So, West Side Road it was.

I packed up the car the night before loading my mountain bike into the back. I arrived at the gate which is about 3.2 miles up West Side Road. I wasn't the only person there. I found about 4-5 other cars.

Lots of people walk up the now closed road up to Gobbler's Knob or even further, hiking the road to get to Klapatche Park and St Andrews Park. I unloaded the car, strapped my hiking boots to my bike and off I went. The road is really in great shape. I bumped into a park ranger just below the LO who said that the road has been closed nearly 15 years because one pesky section where the road is at the level of Fish Creek, repeatedly washes out. The park must have (?) found itself many times having to deal with private vehicles stranded on the wrong side of a new washout. So, the road was closed. Seems there has been some discussion that a shuttle running up the road might be an options. However, with sequestration, I can't see anything coming of this idea any time soon. Regardless, the road is in great shape and if it was open, I likely could have got my Jetta to the Gobbler's Knob TH. A sign at the gate said administrative vehicles in the park often use the road so if you walk or bike the road, be on the lookout.

The grade of the road is great. It's about 3.9 miles of biking from the gate to get to the GK trailhead. I only needed to stop a few times on the ride up, my legs not used to biking uphill. I made the nearly 4mi trip in about an hour. I found a smashed up bike rack at the GK trailhead and after getting my gear sorted out, I locked the bike up. There wasn't another soul around. The only company I had were some pesky deer (or horse) flies that kept buzzing around.

I hiked the .9mi from trailhead to Lake George. Nice old CCC structures back here. A beautiful old patrol cabin (which is locked and looks like it could use a bit of structural work) and a shelter. Some tent campers were spending the weekend around the lake. Likely avoiding this big wooden shelter because they are usually infested with mice. I poked around a bit and wandered down to the water. I didn't stay long...the buzz of the swarms of flies was a warning that I didn't want to get eaten alive. So, around the lake to the right (north) I went. The trail goes another 1.2 miles before reaching the junction with the trail that comes in from Lake Christine. Then there was the final .4mi from the junction to the LO.

The LO has great views of Mt Wow to the south, Mt Ararat to the east, and the huge looming bulk of Mt Rainier to the NE. There were low clouds today. Often obscuring most of Rainier above 10k. A few times however, it cleared just near the top and it looked like Rainier was poking it's head out of a donut shaped cloud.

I had the lookout to myself for a bit. Lana the ranger and her group had left just before I arrived. Just as I was packing to leave, two more hikers arrived.

The LO looks to be in great shape. It is locked though. A bit disappointing but understandable.

I headed back down to the TH and was looking forward to the bike ride out...all downhill. Hmm...could I do the ride in 20 minutes? I wonder... I got to the trailhead, rearranged some gear (switched my boots out for tennis shoes) and then started downhill. It was awesome! Lots of people walking up the road. Then a familiar face...KevinK. A bit of a chat with an old friend and then the rest of the ride (glide) downhill. I barely had to peddle. I arrived at the gate about 28 minutes after leaving the TH, and that included a stop to talk with some friends. Nice...

More information on the lookout: This is a current lookout site. The structure, a 2-story frame cab, was built in 1933 and was staffed into the 1980's.

Notes: Some bugs out, mostly flies. Flowers, late season flowers are blooming (bladderworts, harebells, columbia lilies, asters).
Gobbler's Knob Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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