Burnt Boot Peak + Big Snow Mountain via Dutch Miller Gap Trail / 燒靴峯

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Burnt Boot Peak and Big Snow Mountain hover over Middle Fork Snoqualmie River by Mount Price. The former harbors the famous Goldmyer Hot Springs at its western foothills, while the latter perches above Hardscrabble Lakes.

Burnt Boot Peak at the end of the tunnel
Burnt Boot Peak at the end of the tunnel

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Burnt Boot Peak at a Glance

Access: Dutch Miller Gap Trailhead
Round Trip: 24 miles
Elevation Range: 1400′-6680′
Gear: helmet, microspikes, ice ax
Route Info: Craig Weiland, puzzlr
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

July 22-24, 2022

Day 1 – Friday, July 22
Hardscrabble Horse Camp
Night 1 – Hardscrabble Horse Camp

Day 2 – Saturday, July 23
Burnt Boot Jack + Hardscrabble Lakes
Night 2 – Upper Hardscrabble Lake

Day 3 – Sunday, July 24
Big Snow Mountain + Exit


Day 1

Hardscrabble Horse Camp

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

The Preface on Burnt Boot Peak and Big Snow Mountain

I took my first photo of Burnt Boot Peak and Big Snow Mountain from Snoqualmie Mountain. But I had no idea what I was aiming at when I took the picture. Back then, everything around Snoqualmie Pass fascinated me wildly.

I thought I’d visit both peaks sooner until other places drew me away. Before I knew it, 12 years had passed when I realized it was long overdue. So I wanted to climb them now before more years passed me by.

Middle Fork Snoqualmie River in the PM
Middle Fork Snoqualmie River in the PM

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Road 56 to Dingford Creek Trailhead

My fourth time driving on Road 56 past Garfield Ledges, and it continued to suck. The potholes could use some love. But we’re keeping away most anyone who drives a compact car. Talk about exclusive access.

To make the trip more enjoyable for the dogs, we went to Dingford Creek Friday after work. That way, we could get the seven-mile road walk out of the way. Then I hoped to make it to Hardscrabble Lakes after Burnt Boot Peak.

That way to Goldmyer Hot Springs
That way to Goldmyer Hot Springs

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Dutch Miller Gap Trail

The road turned Dutch Miller Gap Trail used to be drivable to Hardscrabble Horse Camp. Old reports indicated that it was open until sometime around 2010. But I couldn’t find any information about the reason behind the closure.

It’s 4.5 miles on a gradual incline to the hot springs turnoff, gaining 400′. Then another three miles over 1000′ altitude put us at the empty camp by the river. En route, we saw glimpses of Avalanche Mountain and Snoqualmie Mountain.

This way to Burnt Boot Peak
This way to Burnt Boot Peak

See more trip photos here.


Day 2

Burnt Boot Jack + Hardscrabble Lakes

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Burnt Boot Peak via Middle Fork Snoqualmie River

The thing that stood in the way between Burnt Boot Peak and us was the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. The log debris near the camp didn’t stretch far enough to avoid fording the water. So we went upstream to Hardscrabble Creek.

The giant log by the creek was in the middle of the river to be of any use. So I put on slippers, and we crossed the cold, thigh-high water to the other side. Then we took some time going through the brush below the talus.

Middle Fork Snoqualmie River in the AM
Middle Fork Snoqualmie River in the AM

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Burnt Boot Peak Northwest Route

After weaving through boulders and tree debris for 400′, we went left of the buttress. Then we hugged the headwall through ferns before crossing vine maples into a narrow gully. But we stepped out of the ravine as it steepened past 4000′.

For the next 200′, we went through steep terrain mixed in with more down trees. So at times, walking across the logs was much less painful than bypassing them. Before long, the trees slowly thinned out as the northwest ridge loomed overhead.

Talus hopping to Burnt Boot Peak
Talus hopping to Burnt Boot Peak

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En Route to the Northeast Gully

Puzzlr‘s descriptions noted class 4 steps in the northwest gully. So I opted for the dog-friendly northeast route instead. Then at 5400’, we traversed below the north wall across massive talus while avoiding steep snow.

At 5800′, we reached the gully entrance with an intact snow ramp. Alas, I had hoped that it’d be snow-free by now. But we slowly went up the steep terrain with me hugging the rocks and the pups walking up the snow.

Northeast gully below Burnt Boot Peak
Northeast gully below Burnt Boot Peak

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The Final Stretch on Burnt Boot Peak

The dogs stayed on the snow until 6200′, where it ended by the headwall with a wide moat. Then we moved through boulders and the occasional scree. En route was a few tall steps they could hop on with ease.

A short stretch of snow above the rocks ended right below the saddle. From the summit ridge, the tip of Mount Thomson through the mists quickly caught my eye. Then we turned east and finished the climb with a short traverse.

Burnt Boot Peak ridge run
Burnt Boot Peak ridge run

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Burnt Boot Peak Summit Views

I had hoped to see Lemah Mountain from Chikamin Peak but didn’t. But this time, it sat front and center, sporting its distinct five towers. It was also the closest I saw the awe-inspiring Stone Kingdom from the west.

The mists slowly moved in during our visit, mainly to the southwest. So only the top of Mount Thomson was visible the entire time. Soon, I shifted my focus to our next day’s goal, Big Snow Mountain, behind us. It was pretty stunning!

Eastern view from Burnt Boot Peak
Eastern view from Burnt Boot Peak

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Leaving Burnt Boot Peak

We stayed true to our route on the return because of the rocky terrain. But the dogs preferred following me through the rocks than down the steep snow. So I looked for a viable way for the three of us, and we stuck close together.

Soon, we were back at the gully by the buttress. It wasn’t pleasant going down as I kept sliding on the rocks. The dogs, on the other hand, went through the ferns instead. Then we hopped the talus and forded the river back to camp.

Outro
Outro

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En Route to Hardscrabble Lakes

The plan was to camp up high close to Big Snow Mountain. Then we’d enjoy a shorter climb and an early exit the next day. So without wasting any time, I quickly packed, and then we backtracked half a mile to Hardscrabble Lake Trail.

Soon, we found the easy-to-miss entrance thanks to Craig‘s track. We strolled through the mild incline to below the lower lake for the next mile. Then we followed the cairns over a rock field and the sometimes faint trail to the lake’s outlet.

Lower Hardscrabble Lake
Lower Hardscrabble Lake

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A Night at Upper Hardscrabble Lake

We stayed close to the shore and hopped through more boulders to the north. After walking through the wetland, I spotted a few cairns and crossed the creek from the upper lake. Then we followed the footpath and reached the upper lake in half a mile.

I glanced at the outlet and saw a tent in the only decent spot. So we continued along the west shore to the area north of the lake by the stream. It was mainly damp, but I found a place by the water to set up our camp.

Camping by Upper Hardscrabble Lake
Camping by Upper Hardscrabble Lake

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Day 3

Big Snow Mountain + Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

En Route to Big Snow Mountain

It was exciting to finally visit the mountain I’ve stared at all these years. But we were all tired from yesterday and slept for another few hours. By the time we started walking, it was a quarter to 10, and it was already hot!

The official trail ended above our camp, so it was all scramble to the top. But since the campers across the water started before us, we’d likely have a track to follow in the snow. Soon, we went above the trees at 5000′.

Looking back at Upper Hardscrabble Lake
Looking back at Upper Hardscrabble Lake

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5760′ Pass

The key gully leading up to the pass wasn’t visible lower down. But we were soon in it after going around the corner at 5200′ above the lower snowfield. From there, the route had become more apparent.

Much of the snow in the gully had melted, with the summer trail now visible. We went above the last trees onto the snow as two people came down and a day hiker went up. Then I put on microspikes for the rest 300′ to the pass.

View to the other side from the pass
View to the other side from the pass

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The Final Stretch on Big Snow Mountain

From the pass, it was a little over a mile over the snow to the top. We treated ourselves to the north view and the many small ponds in Lake Dorothy Basin along the way. But it seemed to take forever to reach the dry summit block.

I thought the dogs would’ve been sick of the rocks because of yesterday. So I decided to stay in the snow for them to follow me to the top. But they chose to go up the ridge instead, so I followed right behind.

The final stretch on Big Snow Mountain
The final stretch on Big Snow Mountain

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Big Snow Mountain Summit Views

We met the three campers, Kimber, Pete, and Patrick, on the board summit and chatted a while. Meanwhile, I savored the views I had missed out on all these years. But it sure was a long way to come here on foot if not staying the night.

The Stone Kingdom continued to steal the show despite being farther than yesterday. The high points above Pacific Crest Trail, including Huckleberry Mountain, were all visible. To the east was the famous Mount Hinman and Mount Daniel.

Eastern panoramic view from Big Snow Mountain
Eastern panoramic view from Big Snow Mountain

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Leaving Big Snow Mountain

The trade-off of making a loop trip was carrying everything up with me. But going out via Myrtle Lake would let us avoid repeating the seven-mile road walk. It all sounded good on paper until we started making our way to the lower lakes.

The ridge south of Big Snow Lake ended abruptly above the cliffs. After trying several spots, we backtracked and went around the west of Snowflake Lake via a rock field. Then we found the lake trail and went over to Big Snow Lake.

Three lakes view
Three lakes view

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Outro

The gully below Big Snow Lake’s outlet didn’t look doable for the dogs. Judging by the few reports, it’s best to go that way when filled with snow. So we took the adjacent ridge to the north and went down the steep hill.

We exited the ridge at 4400′ before the top of the cliffs above the rock field. Then we scramble through the forest down to the wetland full of mosquitos. Soon, we crossed the creek from Myrtle Lake, found the trail, and hiked five miles to the car.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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