ROUND TRIP: 9.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,650 feet
SEASON: July - October
START: Forest Road 6520
One of the finest meadow-traversing, ridge-walking, view-granting trails in the Skykomish Valley, Johnson Ridge is also surprisingly one of the quieter trails in the region. The way begins steeply through an old clear-cut rapidly regenerating. After .75 mile the grade eases, the trail now traveling through mature forest and soon entering the Wild Sky Wilderness. Established in 2008, the Wild Sky is Washington’s newest federally protected wilderness area. At 2.0 miles round the heather-graced 5,050-foot summit of Sunrise Mountain, outstanding views can be had of surrounding summits and snowy sentinel Glacier Peak, the highest peak in the region. Sunrise makes a fine destination for a shorter hike.
But if it’s Johnson’s Scorpion Mountain you wish to strike out for, continue, steeply dropping over 300 feet to a narrow saddle. Commence climbing once reaching sprawling meadows replete with resplendent wildflowers. At about 4.4 miles at the edge of a meadow reach an unmarked junction. Head left if Scorpion Mountain’s 5,540-ft summit is your objective. From this outpost enjoy a stunning 360-degree view of the Central Cascades. To the east, directly below, twinkling Joan Lake may catch your attention. To reach it, retreat to the unmarked junction and follow a brushy steep trail. Reach the isolated lake after half of a mile and 500 feet of elevation loss. Fish are fairly abundant at the lake—so are the mosquitoes.
Header photo courtesy of @logan.j378