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Tamanos Mountain

Difficulty: strenuous and unofficial

9.9 miles

Elevation gain: 3180'

Max elevation: 6700'

Camps: Tamanos Creek

First hiked by me: 2021

This unofficial route extends the Owyhigh Lakes from White River Road or Owyhigh Lakes from Deer Creek trails, adding a couple more miles, another 1370 feet elevation gain, and some stunning views. The figures shown above are approaching from White River Road (the easier option).

An unsignposted turnoff to the west of the Owyhigh Lakes trail is found a short distance south of the lakes. From here the path climbs steeply up an open slope, eschewing switchbacks. Don't forget to turn around at regular intervals to enjoy views of the Cowlitz Chimneys and south to Mount Adams. Upon reaching a saddle below the summit of Tamanos Mountain, a unique view of Rainier appears, with Goat Island Mountain to the right, the valley of Fryingpan Creek center stage, and Banshee Peak and the Sarvant Glacier on the left.

The saddle would be a fine place to turn around, or you can turn right and ascend a ridge to the summit of Tamanos Mountain. This starts out wide with a trail of loose dirt and dust, then turns rocky, and near the summit becomes a scramble with exposure beyond my comfort level, so I turned back a little before the top.

This trail is becoming eroded due to increasing popularity bringing more visitors than an unmaintained bootpath can properly support. Hiker feet have compacted fragile meadow soil, which then became a water drainage and created deep gullies. People are now starting to walk alongside rather than in these gullies, creating new paths that will repeat the same cycle, eventually turning a hillside of wildflowers into a maze of eroded footpaths.

There is an ongoing debate in Pacific Northwest hiker circles about how to deal with damage caused by the increasing popularity of hiking. Some argue that hidden gem routes should be kept secret, to avoid their overuse and subsequent destruction. I am firmly in the camp that believes information should be shared, yet I must admit I had some qualms about hiking and then documenting this particular route. Ultimately I see several possibilities, ideally used in combination, that would result in it being better cared for:

Tamanos means 'guardian spirit' in the Chinook Jargon.

The Cowlitz Chimneys (ancient lava plugs)

View to the south, including Mount Adams

View from Tamanos Saddle, with Goat Island Mountain to the right

The Sarvant Glacier, below Banshee Peak

A unique perspective on Little Tahoma. Summerland and Panhandle Gap are in the middle of this image, but hidden from view

The Cowlitz Chimneys, from partway up Tamanos Mountain

Trail becomes rocky near the summit of Tamanos Mountain