Hike description: The Charles L. Pack Experimental Forest houses the University of Washington's Center for Sustainable Forestry.
From an initial purchase of 334 acres, enabled by Pack’s bequest, the forest has grown to 4,300 acres.
The forested classroom, used by graduate and undergraduate students, includes an assortment of trails which are open to the public.
You can take a pleasant stroll through the woods or load your backpack with extra weight and pick up your pace for a conditioning hike.
The forest, owned by the University of Washington College of Forest Resources, is used for graduate and undergraduate academic programs, research, conferences, continuing education and public outreach.
Depending on when you are there, you may see new forests in progress and/or clearcuts and other evidence of the forest-as-laboratory-as-hands-on-learning.
Along with the educational component of this trip is a wonderful dose of being out in the “wilds” while still close to home.
You will pick up the Hugo Peak Trail by the gate house.
The trail offers a hike up gentle slopes, up a few steep but short sections, and some level sections through the forest.
The trail is reasonably well-signed and crosses roads designated by their numbers: 1600, 1500, 1420, 1081 and 1080.
With map in hand, the road intersections will help you to stay on course.
The “summit” is at the end of Road 1080 and is marked by two log benches and a wooden box with a summit register for you to sign in that you made it.
Have your lunch and then head down the road to pick up the Reservoir Trail.
Pick up a wildlife trail or head out to the road at the junction with Road 1040.
You have a choice of primary or secondary roads to get back to the main gate.
Directions: Take state Route 7 south from Tacoma or state Route 161 south from Puyallup. The entrance to Pack Forest is on state Route 7, two-tenths of a mile west of the junction with state Route 161.
Park at the entrance, by the Gate House, outside the gate.
The Hugo Peak trailhead is on the right.
Difficulty rating: 3 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 7
Elevation: 950 feet
Best time of year: Year-round
Map: Download map at www.packforest.org/education/11x17_low2.pdf
Pass: None required
Also: Be sure you don’t return to find that the gates have closed.
There is a public restroom in the Gate House, open during the summer.
Bicycles are welcome on the roads but the hiking trails are for feet only. Horses are allowed on designated horse paths.
During hunting season, be sure to dress appropriately, fluorescent orange makes a dandy fashion statement. Please pack out all trash.
Maps are sometimes available at the Gate House, but it would be prudent to download the map from the website before heading out. Make sure to always carry the 10 Essentials on any hike.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.