Tibbetts Mountain offers a variety of outings— from easy to adventurous walks and technically easy but physically vigorous mountain bike rides. The access from the Wenatchee Valley is short and the views over our foothills are spectacular–especially in spring and fall. Many believe the wildflowers along the road leading to the top are every bit as good as the Sauer Mountain hike (a regional favorite for flowers) and the birding along both routes described below is excellent. The adventure route we describe up Tibbetts would also be an adventurous and fun snowshoe route in winter. Much of Tibbetts Mountain burned in 2005 during the Fischer Creek Fire and, for a number of years, the adventure route was very sandy and had a lot of deadfall blocking the trail. By 2012 when we updated this route description, hikers, hunters, and especially mountain bikers had cut through most of the obstacles blocking the way and had returned the ridge route down to Hay Canyon into a steep and loose trail that is an interesting route even though it would not be a sustainable trail if it receives more than light use. Note: We were notified in 2013 that the Adventure Route now has signage at the bottom (placed by the Forest Service) stating this route is for foot travel only and is closed to mountain biking and motorcycles.
Length: 6 to 14.5 miles (roundtrip) depending on route followed.
Elevation: Gain of 1,800 to 2,700 vertical feet depending on route.
Skill. The dirt road to the top is technically easy for both hiking and mountain biking (1+ rating). The Adventure Route is best suited for experienced hikers (2+ to 3- rating) — it is much looser, steeper, and is much trickier to walk — many people will appreciate having trekking poles along.
Fitness. Dirt Road Route: 2 (intermediate rating) — the pitch is quite steep and sustained. Adventure Route: 2+ to 3- rating (strong intermediate to advanced fitness recommended).
Map: View our topo map (8.5”x11” paper in portrait mode). Use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to properly scale this map to a full sheet of paper.
Access to Adventure Route: Drive Highway 2 to the western edge of Cashmere. About 100 or 200 yards east of Milepost 110, turn north on Hay Canyon Rd. Drive one mile until pavement’s end. Park 40 yards past pavement’s end in a pullout (el. 1,440’). Don’t park on the pavement, it’s a tow zone.
Hay Canyon Info: The public dirt road up Hay Canyon ends 1.7 miles uphill from pavement’s end. Here the road enters private land and is gated at the entrance to Hay Canyon Ranch. The ranch is used by paragliders who are connected to Air Play (instructional program, 509-782-5543, www.paraglide.com) or who receive permission from the ranch (message center, 509-782-4382). As of June 2008, the owners of the ranch were working with the Forest Service to see if a trail system could be extended into the ranch.
Adventure Route up Tibbetts: (Distances stated in reference to the starting point). Signage placed by the Forest Service indicates this route is for foot traffic (mountain bikes and motorcycles are prohibited).
- Go .05 miles (100 yards) up Hay Canyon Road. Take a left. There’s a little maze of dirt roads here from cars and ORVs, but there is one main road up the hill that climbs steeply for 80 yards then dog legs to the left (west) and continues climbing.
- 0.68 miles (el. 1,740’). Reach a saddle where various spur roads converge and with nice views of the valley. Go right and follow the ridge system steeply uphill.
- 1.61 miles (el. 3,000’). Reach a shoulder along the ridge system where the pitch mellows. Before the Fischer Creek Fire, the trail suddenly went to single track. Keep following the ridge, sometimes going a bit left or right of the true crest but usually staying on the crest itself. The views to the east are over bald hills. This area was an interesting transitional mixture of plants—forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir interspersed with stands of sage brush and buck brush.
- 2.35 miles (el. 3,560’). The ridge flattens and you hit the obvious grade of an old logging road. It’s very scenic through here with tight views of Tibbetts Mountain before you and sprawling vistas over Hay and Nahahum canyons to the right. This area is a garden of wildflowers in the spring.
- 3.22 miles (el. 3,840’). Reach a T-intersection with a larger, double-track road. Going left dead ends in 0.4 miles). Go right.
- 3.44 miles (el. 3,900’) Reach a small shoulder where the road you’ve been following drops and leads down into Olalla Canyon. If you take the small trail fading right you’ll go another 200 yards uphill and end up on a little summit with nice views (el. 3,980’). To reach the true summit of Tibbetts, turn left at the shoulder and walk ¼ mile southwest along the ridge to the top (el. 4,115’).
- Return by retracing the route.
Dirt Road Route up Tibbetts (with the possibility of an adventurous return).
- Access: Follow Highway 2 some 0.2 miles west of Milepost 109 and turn onto N Dryden Road, following signs to Peshastin Pinnacles State Park. In 0.5 miles reach the entrance to Peshastin Pinnacles State Park. The state park has some facilities and is a good place to park for a longer ride. Those who want a shorter, easier walk or mountain bike ride up the peak can drive 1.2 miles past the state park, turn right on Ollala Canyon Road, drive 4.5 miles and look for an unmarked gravel double-track road on the right (Road 7410-112). Turn right here and drive about 30 yards before parking on the left (a small pullout will accommodate several cars). Park so the maximum number of people can use the pullout (el. 2,240’).
- From this small pullout, ride or walk up this steep road. Note: There are ‘No Trespassing’ signs bordering the road for the first quarter mile. This is confusing but public use of the road is allowed — you’re simply not allowed to leave the road at this point. Before long the ‘No Trespassing signs disappear altogether.
- 2.5 miles (el. 3,900’). The road reaches a shoulder. A little spur trail to the left goes to a nice viewpoint in a few hundred yards. To reach the true summit (el. 4,115’), leave the road at the shoulder by turning right and following a very faint trail along the ridge — you’ll reach the summit in about 0.25 miles.
- Return by retracing the route. Hikers may also want to park a car at the end of pavement up Hay Canyon and return via the adventure route by following the Adventure Route description above in reverse. The shoulder described in the bullet above corresponds with the 3.44 mile mark described in the Adventure Route. This route is not open to mountain bikes or to motorcycles.
Land ownership: Wenatchee National Forest, county and Forest Service roads.
Permits: None needed.
Camping: Some people camp in Hay Canyon in a variety of places beyond pavement’s end. This is something of a paint gun Mecca. There are currently no facilities so people should bring their own groover (porta-potty) and pack out their waste. Leave the area cleaner than when you arrived.
Update: June, 24, 2008 by Charlie Hickenbottom. “I drove a few miles up Hay Canyon Road and parked about 0.25 miles before the gate at Hay Canyon Ranch in a wide spot of the road where you can turn around (spot has been used as a campsite). From here, I ascended very steeply up a northwest trending rib which leads directly to Point 3640 (see map). There’s no trail, nor is one needed, since it isn’t brushy. Ski poles and/or an ice ax (depending upon season) are recommended due to steepness. At the ridge crest, turn right and a fire-break road leads to a road junction about in the middle of Section 17, about 0.35 mile east of the summit. Follow the ridge to the summit. This route might have the most flowers in May. Views of the Enchantments and the Wenatchee Valley below offer scenic rewards. You probably wouldn’t encounter anyone else along this route – it shows little evidence of use. The amount of dead wood on this mountain from the forest fire would provide a handy source of winter firewood if you wanted to snowshoe and camp along this ridge in the winter.”
Photo Above: Wildflowers and views on the ascent of Tibbetts Mountain. Below: Views out toward Burch Mountain from the summit.
Leave It Better Than You found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse old fire rings (they encourage more fires), throw branches over spur trails and spurs between switchbacks (make it harder to do the wrong thing than the right thing).
Below: More summit views.
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Things change, conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes, fail to give complete information, or may not know all the issues affecting a route. You are completely responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.