McDonald Mountain
From a distance, McDonald Mountain blends in to all the ridges that make up the beginning of the Cascades. But viewed from the air, McDonald Mountain is one long independent mountain that drops down to deep valley bottoms on all sides. Hikers have been going to McDonald Mountain since the road was built, especially when the destination was once known as McDonald Point Lookout, and there was a lookout tower. The lookout tower is gone, so now there are just communication towers, including some sort of county emergency 911 tower. This tower is noticeable from Puget Sound if you know where to look. The views have always been nice but more hikers these days are seeking out the exact high spot, not just the lookout location. Either way, McDonald Mountain makes for a different kind of hike, very close to town, no crowds, with good views in route, including evening hiking with the western views over the Puget Sound region and sunsets over the Olympics. Also consider winter, with the low elevation and paved access. Snowshoeing to the lookout point is safe and really nice.
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McDonald Mountain

Distance: 6 miles
Summit Elevation: 3,570 feet
Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
Access: Paved
There are two access points, I would suggest the northern one. Take the Kent-Kangley Road east from Covington. Stay on it past Route 169. Six miles beyond that intersection the road will hit a sign saying that the road will end in two miles. Just beyond that sign you will see a Blue DNR gate. Park there. The southern gate is off SE Courtney Road (see map) but a few of the local residents have caused issues with people parking in the area.


Both routes climb steadily up a logging road, both have harvest areas that provide views, both roads merge together at 2,200 feet. Stick to the main road until you reach 2,800.
Now you can go right on a gated road to reach the towers and views. To reach the true summit, you can continue on this road (see the map) looking for two possible turnoffs that will get you up to the ridge-top. I believe the second road up does take you past a Green River Watershed sign so you might want to avoid that route. I put another road on the map that shows up on aerial photos. It takes off from a large switchback that is off the lookout point road. This might be the most direct route but I didnít go that way. A large thinning timber sale took place several years ago so routes were changed up a bit.
WA Hikes & Climbs
McDonald Mountain map
The mountain and lookout was named for Robert McDonald, a timber cruiser, field inspector, and fire warden for the Washington Forest Fire Association.
McDonald Mountain McDonald Mountain Old snag Enumclaw State Forest Mt. Rainier McDonald Mountain Enumclaw
McDonald Mountain from Black Diamond Hill
McDonald Mountain ridgeline logging
On a landing on the far east side of the mountain in the watershed. Working for the DNR, I drove the 13 mile road across the mountain a few times.
Looking south to Mt. Rainier
Puget Sound Region from the Radio Facility viewpoints
Puget Sound Region from the Radio Facility viewpoints
Snow capped Olympic Mountains in the distance
Enumclaw State Forest area to the south
Old snag at the viewpoint
Looking south toward Enumclaw with Sugarloaf Mountain and Boise Ridge down below
This is the north eastern flank of the McDonald Mountain ridgeline, shaved below by the Powerline Easement