Mount Elbert & The Rockies

Hidden in a maze of ownership and logging roads, The Rockies is a high summit with some fascinating history. A nearby summit around the same height has been given the name Mount Elbert, the highest mountain in the real Rocky Mountains. These summits have a special significance to Washington peakbaggers. For lookout enthusiasts, The Rockies summit once had a fire lookout. Because of the remoteness of the mountain, there is still a large amount of debris laying around. The lookout according to firelookout.com had a D-6 cupola cabin built in 1929, that was nearly demolished in 1941 when an Army Air Corp bomber crashed near the summit. The cabin was eventually destroyed in 1956. Much of the original trail still exists near the summit. The other reason to climb is that one of these 2 peaks rises to over 2,600 feet of prominence. There is debate as to which one as the method for calculating summit height varies. Most Washington peakbaggers would put Elbert as the highest while The Rockies is viewed higher by out of state visitors. The Rockies makes for a better climb if you choose only one.
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Access:
Many routes have been taken but the easiest if you have a 4WD high clearance will be described here. Some roads are not shown on USGS maps so print mine below. These roads are subject to washout at any time and little info can be found for current conditions. From Elbe, go south on Highway 7 for around 4 miles to a right turn on FR 74. The turn is between the 2nd and 3rd roads to the small town of Mineral. Follow FR 74 for over 10 miles until a sharp left off FR74 at a Barrow Pit. At 13.7 miles is a 5 way intersection but this may not be apparent. The road may be extremely brushy at this point depending on road maintenance. (Most may want to start walking back at the 5 way.) Follow the spur in the direction of Mt. Elbert which reaches a dramatic narrow ridge for a road to be on top. The road traverses below the north side of Mount Elbert and hits the saddle between Elbert & The Rockies. I drove to the two X marks shown on the map below.
Mount Elbert Route:
I hiked up an old road on the north side which faded out and turned into a short bushwhack. An easier but longer route may be to walk the road down and around to the south side where it is shown to climb back up nearly to the summit.
Washington Hiking
Distance: 1 to 3 miles depending on where you park
Elevation Gain: 300 feet for Elbert, 800 feet for The Rockies
Summit Elevation: Elbert is 4,327 feet, The Rockies 4,320 to 4,340 feet
Access: FR 74 is a gravel road, rough in places after that
The Rockies Route:
From the spot marked on the map on the ridge, an overgrown road works west just under the ridge. Follow until the road ends. Just before the end of the road, look into the uncut forest on the left to find the original summit trail. It is in good condition and easy to follow. But, once it reaches the base of the final climb, it is lost for a distance in brush. Higher up, it can be found again although it may be easier at times to just avoid, where overgrown. The last several switchbacks are easy to follow leading to the former lookout. The tread of this trail is good and it wouldn't take much to bring this trail back to life.
Nisqually Highpoints
The Rockies Nisqually River Valley national forest The Rockies lookout The Rockies Lookout The Rockies lookout trail Mount Elbert The Rockies Lookout FR 74 Map D-6 cupola cabin The Rockies Map logging road The Rockies lookout Mount Elbert washington The Rockies lookout Summit Mount Elbert washington
The Rockies from Mount Elbert
The Rockies summit
View southwest from Mount Elbert
A very expensive road cut for a logging road
D-6 cupola cabin
Summit area of Mount Elbert
Summit area of Mount Elbert
Mount Elbert in the clouds from The Rockies
Summit lookout spot for The Rockies
The Rockies trail in the clouds
The Rockies trail in the sun
View from The Rockies
View from The Rockies
Above: Area with the summits Below: Access Map from Highway 7
West Fork Nisqually River Valley from the old road to The Rockies
On the old road to The Rockies trailhead