Mile High + Toto Peak by Cascade Mountain + Lake Dorothy / 英里高

  • Reading time:12 mins read

Mile High by Cascade Mountain shares a ridgeline with Toto Peak above Lake Dorothy. As the name implies, it stands a mile tall at 5280 feet. The nearby Bear Lake, Deer Lake, and Snoqualmie Lake are backpackers’ favorites.

Mile High awaits
Mile High awaits

See more trip photos here.

Mile High at a Glance

Access: Miller River Bridge Washout
Round Trip: 17.1 miles
Elevation Range: 1480′-5280′
Gear: helmet
Route Info: puzzlr
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no on the summit block

The Preface on Mile High and Toto Peak

Back in the day, climbing Mile High involved a 9-mile drive on Miller River Road to the end. Then 1.5 miles of hiking Lake Dorothy Trail would take one to the starting point by the outlet. It was the shortest way to the peak.

Then came the 2021 road closure at mile 5 by the bridge. It has since reduced the number of lake goers significantly. So now, accessing Lake Dorothy and beyond from Highway 2, the extra 4 miles each way is inevitable.

East Fork Miller River Road closure
East Fork Miller River Road closure

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Other Ways to Mile High

Going in from the west, north, and south lets one bypass Toto Peak. The obscure peak on the wooded ridgeline is a letdown in views and not much to write about. But one needs to contend with the brush when snow-free.

Dream Lake: one needs to go through the brush before and after the lake. Smith Creek: it avoids the ridge but deals with more cliffs lower down. Then Snoqualmie Lake is 8-plus miles each way and brushy beyond the lake.

East Fork Miller River Road washout
East Fork Miller River Road washout

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Lake Dorothy Trail

The pups and I tried climbing Mile High last November after the snowfall. But the rocky ridge below Toto Peak had presented an issue. So I decided to return during the dry months and we hung out by the lake instead.

The decent trail only had a handful of down trees to bypass. Even on a clear day, views in the open forest would still be minimal. We gained the most altitude over the stairs after crossing the Camp Robber Creek bridge.

This way to Mile High
This way to Mile High

See more trip photos here.

Mile High East Route

We spent most of the time going from the outlet to Toto Peak’s northeast crest. From 3600′ to 4200′ was the steepest as we hugged the impressive slab wall above the lake’s north shore. But route-finding wasn’t an issue this time.

At the 4600′ talus, we dropped onto the north side to avoid the rocky ridge. The last time we were here, we made the mistake of staying on the crest. But this time, reaching the top of Toto Peak was smooth sailing.

The final stretch on Toto Peak
The final stretch on Toto Peak

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Traversing Above Lake Pugsley

Several boulders among the krummholz made up Toto Peak’s summit. It reminded me of Saint Agnes Ridge but much woodsier to offer any grand views. So we continued after a brief pause and a quick photo.

Beyond the peak, the terrain widened as we strolled through the meadow. But on the summit ridge’s west end, it quickly dipped to the bouldered crest for the next 200′. We bypassed the rocks from the slick heather and duff on the north.

Broad ridge before the dip
Broad ridge before the dip

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Pugsley Pass and Beyond

I thought I’d see Lake Pugsley along the way, but trees and clouds were all. After going through more brush, we reached the unimpressive Pugsley Pass. “Would people make their way up here just to hang out?” I wondered.

Beyond the pass was another field with a few water puddles. The only other water we found was along the meadow past Toto Peak. Otherwise, the dogs enjoyed the leftover snow after we finished the water from my pouch.

Cascade Mountain across from Smith Creek
Cascade Mountain across from Smith Creek

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Mile High Northwest Ridge

Next came the massive talus in the north basin to cross. Without snow, we used the smaller rocks to weave through the giant boulders while staying between 4600′ and 4800′. Before long, we were by the northwest ridge below the summit.

I poked around several places, but none was suitable for the pups. So we went farther north and found a ramp south of Point 4867. Soon, we were on the wooded crest and made our way into the upper talus meadow.

Aiming for the northwest ridge
Aiming for the northwest ridge

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The Final Stretch

We could stay on the crest until 5160′, where we found vertical slabs mixed with krummholz. But I wouldn’t try taking the dogs through that part. So we backtracked and dropped back into the talus basin at 5000′.

After situating the dogs below the cliffs, I climbed up the vertical slabs with the help of krummholz. Above the crux was the slick duff over moderate terrain. Soon, I was at the top as clouds fast moved in from the west.

The rocky basin below Mile High summit
The rocky basin below Mile High summit

See more trip photos here.

Mile High Summit Views

Perhaps it was the long day trip, but I didn’t find it all that enjoyable. The highlights were seeing Lake Dorothy and lots of Cascade Mountain en route. In the end, clouds had robbed us of most views. Talk about great timing!

The constant view of Cascade Mountain we had early was no more. The only side with semi-decent views was to the east. So I took photos of Malachite Peak, Chimney Rock, and Big Snow Mountain before clouds swallowed everything whole.

Chimney Rock from last weekend
Chimney Rock from last weekend

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Outro

After joining the pups, we retraced our steps down to the north basin. Then we went back up to Toto Peak and down the other side. It felt more physically taxing to go back through the steep section while avoiding the tree debris.

We desperately needed a long water break rehydrating by Lake Dorothy. But it was 5.5 miles too long to return to the washout. Of course, the only car in the large lot parked inches away from me. Ugh, as if!

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

See more trip photos here.

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