Summiting Mount Erie

The view from the top of Mount Erie on a clear sunny day is one of the best in the area. From the parking lot just south of Heart Lake, follow the road up about 1.7 miles to the summit, a trip that takes about ten minutes. According to my GPS watch, you’ll climb from about 800 at the base to 1,200 at the summit. There are a few places to pull out on the way, but drive all the way up for the most spectacular view.

A map labeling points of interest is located in front of a bench at the summit view point. In the following photo, Lake Campbell is in the foreground with Ala Spit just off the shore and almost directly behind the lake’s island. To the left in the photo below is Hope Island (the larger one) and just in front is Skagit Island.

View from Mount Erie

View from Mount Erie towards Lake Campbell

Google Maps Mount Erie (red teardrop) and surrounding area

Here’s a better view of the islands with Ala Spit at high tide just visible on the right.

Hope Island (background) and Skagit Island viewed from Mount Erie

Hope Island (background) and Skagit Island (foreground) from Mount Erie

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View from Mount Erie with Lake Campbell in foreground

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Lake Campbell viewed from Mount Erie

You can also walk out to a second viewing area towards the northeast with Mount Baker in the background and the Tesoro refinery at March Point in the foreground.

Mount Baker viewed from Mount Erie

Mount Baker viewed from Mount Erie

You should be able to easily complete the entire low impact adventure in under an hour, even if you stop at multiple spots.

On our way home, we took a look from the base of the mountain, which is also really pretty.

Mt Erie viewed from below

Mt Erie viewed from below

After summiting Mt Erie by car, I got the bug to try it by trail. During a sunny afternoon last week, I grabbed my map and GPS watch, entered the lot, parked adjacent a line of cars and made my way towards the trail head.

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My plan was to follow Trail 215 to the back side of Sugarloaf Mountain and then continue to the summit.

Information kiosk near the 215 Trail head

Information kiosk near the 215 Trail head

At first, the trail was pretty flat. There were plenty of things to photograph that grow well in the wet. Unfortunately, the trees provide a lot of shade, which made it harder to get good shots.

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Fungus on base of fallen tree along Trail 215

Soon the trail became very steep. For quite a while, it seemed more like a hike than a walk.

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Red belt conk on fallen log along Trail 215

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Lipstick Powderhorn Lichen

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Fungi along Trail 215

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Once I’d gone way past Trail 225, I realized I’d have to back track a lot in order to get to the top by trail, so I modified my original plan and continued on towards the viewpoint at Sugarloaf Mountain.

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Two last types of lichen greeted me as I wandered around the looping trail at the view point.

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Orange Jelly-Like fungi (Witches Butter) near Sugarloaf Mountain summit

Since I’d already gone wrong, I decided to continue along Trail 215 to the road. It was much dryer than the section opposite Sugarloaf Mountain over which I’d already traveled.

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At what, to me, was the end of Trail 215, I reached the Sugar Loaf Trail head.

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After following the road up towards the next access point, I realized that I didn’t have enough time to hike to the top, so I decided to return on a different day and see if I could complete the task as originally planned. On the way down, I noticed a blotchy type of lichen, dog ear lichen (in bloom?), the sun shining on an alder and the tiniest, prettiest cluster of fairy bonnet mushrooms.

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Dog Lichen

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I also stopped to listen to the sound of water trickling down a dark rock face.

Early this morning, the sky was clear and I was feeling a little under the weather, too much for a trail run but not enough to stop me from my second attempt at the summit. While I waited a couple of minutes for my GPS watch to sync with the satellite, I heard a Pileated woodpecker’s distinctive call and water flowing along a brook near the parking lot.

This time, I started out the same way on Trail 215, but paid better attention to the map, turning onto Trails 225, 226, 230, 207 and 216. I heard the twitter of what sounded like many sparrow-y species of birds and further up the trail, I watched, stock still, as a Varied thrush perched mere feet from me. They are super shy so I didn’t move a muscle until it took off. Then so did I.

I noticed many of the same flora that I’d seen before, plus several new plants. Observing all the stuff adjacent the trails entire trip was a fern, fungi, moss and lichen lover’s dream.

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Marasmiellus candidus

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Tiger’s eye fungus

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White coral fungus

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Towards Whistle Lake, it was flattish with bike tracks marking the mud. It seemed like a good place for a trail run.

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Nearer the top, it became very steep and the trail took off in more than one direction. I decided to buck convention and head towards the light, and finally saw the sign indicating that I was near the summit. At the top, I couldn’t resist stopping for a shot of the towers visible from afar.

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During the entire hour or so that it took me to reach the summit, I hadn’t seen a single soul! I tried to be mindful and sat at the viewpoint for about ten minutes, soaking up the serenity and a great view. On a nearby bench, someone had left yellow flowers, likely in remembrance of Jacob Calvin Jeter, a youngster who died in an accident on January 22, 2011. I read the plaque and acknowledged the memory of someone I’d never met, but who walked the same school hallways as my kids, whose loved-ones remember their loss every year on the same day that we celebrate my daughter’s birth…sigh. I struggle to live mindfully, but I felt compelled to remain as long as I could. And did. The last thing I remember hearing was the call of Trumpeter swans off in the distance as I walked back towards the road.

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On the way down, I noticed several persons walking up the road, squirrels calling back and forth, another Varied thrush and this cool-looking pale-yellow-topped mushroom.

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I returned home via a route that gave a good look of the mountain from the bottom.

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My next trip up will be a group Trail Run/Hike with friends. I can’t wait.

2 thoughts on “Summiting Mount Erie

  1. What a beautiful blog and photos! Thank you for taking a moment on the bench at the top of Mount Erie. The plaque was in honor of my son Jacob. He loved nature and was taken from this life too soon. I am just glad that the bench offered you a place to take a moment of solace and enjoy the beauty that the top of Mount Erie beholds. God bless.

    • Kim! I remember you and I think of your son Jacob, who I sadly did not know, whenever I am at the top of Mt Erie near the plaque and whenever I pass by Campbell Lake. In fact, I was thinking about him just today (really) because I drove by this afternoon. My daughter’s birthday is 22 January and I think of him then too. Erin and I were there together one day. We talked about him and remembered him. I know he was well-loved. So grateful for the bench and the amazing view. Take care and thank you for the kind words.

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