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Hike of the week: Noble Knob

Hike description: Noble Knob has to be one of the most beautiful hikes close to home. Most of the elevation gain is done driving to the trailhead at 5,700 feet. Hikers can treat themselves to views of Mount Rainier, Mount Stuart and, on a clear day, Mount Baker. The trail has one of the best flower displays in the summer and the best huckleberry patches in the fall.

All of this beauty comes with a price. The six miles of Forest Service road to the trailhead rank as one of the worst roads to any hike. High-clearance vehicles are recommended, but regular passenger vehicles can make it if you drive slow and swing wide at the switchbacks. The other price you pay for the beauty is sharing the trail with mountain bikers. This is a popular destination for both hikers and bikers. However, remember the rules of the trail (bikers yield to hikers) and everyone will have a great time.

The trail briefly enters the forest but soon you are above the tree line walking through the dwarf alpine noble firs. Within a mile you have your first picture-taking viewpoint looking straight at Mount Rainier. A little farther on you reach a zigzagging bunch of unofficial trails. Take a moment to stop here and take a view to the east. Here, the view of Mount Stuart is unmistakable.

Hike past the trail to Deep Creek and at 2.5 miles reach the saddle. The trail drops to an intersection of trails to George Lake and Lost Lake. Take the center trail and traverse up to Noble Knob, a former fire lookout site. Again, you have Mount Rainier as your view. The knob makes for a perfect lunch spot.

Directions: Take state Route 410 for 31 miles past Enumclaw. (1.3 miles from Buck Creek forest road.) Take a left onto Corral Pass Road No. 7174. Drive six miles to a junction and take the left to the parking area of the trailhead.

Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)

Miles round-trip: 7

Elevation: 800 feet

Best time of year: July to October

Map: Green Trails 239 - Lester

Pass: Northwest Forest Pass

Also: Coral Pass Road is a very rough road. High-clearance vehicles and/or a lot of patience and a light foot on the accelerator are recommended. The trail is above the tree line and on a cloudless day can be very hot; take lots of water (at least 2 liters). Always carry the 10 Essentials and be prepared for the vagaries of mountain weather. The trail is open to hikers, horses and bicyclists. Camping is available at Corral Pass Campground just beyond the trailhead parking lot.

Info: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest website, www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs; Snoqualmie Ranger District Enumclaw Office, 360-826-65

Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.

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