Ride to Bonneville Hot Springs, Skamania County, North Bonneville, Washington.
And hike to the 1,100' summit of Aldrich Butte
A 3 hour, 6 mile round trip, easy to moderately difficult hike
120 mile round trip ride - November 16, 2010
Return to Aldrich Butte, April 17, 2011
The Aldrich Butte trail... a several mile shortcut to the base of Table
Mountain that saves walking through a lot of clear cut forest. If your real
desire is to climb Table Mountain, this might be the better trailhead for you.
But... Aldrich Butte is a nice little hike in it's own right.
Taking Washington Highway 14 East, turn left towards North Bonneville (Moffett)
Hot Springs. The road is well marked and is right across from the Bonneville Dam
Visitors entrance access road.
Go through a little tunnel under the BNSF tracks and you'll see some nice
mountain views straight ahead. Turn right as soon as you exit the tunnel.
Table Mountain is the largest peak, straight ahead.
Aldrich Butte is the smaller hill right in front of it. (I think...)
I don't know the name of the big mound in the foreground.
I think that's Greenleaf on the far right.
During WWII Aldrich Butte was used as an anti-aircraft installation to protect
against possible Japanese air attacks to the dam. The Butte was also a former
fire lookout site. The access road to Aldrich Butte was built by the military in 1942.
Down the road you'll come to Bonneville Hot Springs. Some people park
here and some park on the gravel area behind the resort.
It would probably be polite to park in back unless you plan to use the resort's
services when you return from your hike.
There is considerable debate on which is the "official" trailhead for this hike.
The trailhead I used today is the gravel road going uphill behind the resort.
N 45 39.3305
The gravel road straight ahead, going up-hill runs West along the power lines
for a little over a mile. It's a not very interesting, somewhat muddy, hilly start.
Alternately, you can hike (or drive) West on the paved road that runs along the
shoreline of the Greenleaf Slough if hiking on power line
service roads doesn't ring your chimes.
There are numerous turn offs along this road that are used by fishermen during the
Summer. I don't know if anyone will bother your vehicle there but this seems like
a safe area. The pavement ends about a mile or so from the Hot Springs Resort at
Carpenter Creek and Shelly Lane.
Plenty of parking here although you want to be careful not to block anyone's driveway.
There's a nice view of Hamilton Mountain, Little Hamilton and Beacon Rock
close to this location.
Just a short distance from Carpenter Creek down the dirt road and to the right
is a turn off where there is a small sand pit and parking for several vehicles.
This is where you would turn North if you opted to hike along the power lines so
starting the hike here would knock off two miles round trip from your hike. IMHO
even if you choose to park at the resort, walking the road versus hiking the power
lines is probably the preferred route.
From this point you are only about 1/2 mile from Aldrich Butte as the crow flies.
I think this is the summit straight ahead.
You are at:
N 45 38.9126
Absent any formal name, I'll call this Saxton's Trailhead. But if your car
gets broken into I will deny I ever saw this place. In any event, walking or
driving, at this juncture you want to head uphill, North, into the trees,
perpendicular to the power lines.. You will be hiking a steady incline, sometimes
quite steep, for the remainder of this hike.
The hike was mostly uneventful thus the absence of pictures. The trail was wide
with considerable mud (but less than I was expecting). You had to hop over a few
streams that had taken over the trail but again, the hike itself was fairly easy.
The biggest problem is that for the most part the trail is completely unmarked.
Without a GPS you stand a good chance of going down a few wrong paths if attempting
this hike. It would be tough to get hopelessly lost out here (during daylight)
but having a GPS or at least a VERY detailed trail guide would be wise.
Success can be had by resisting all urges to take any of the side trails you
come across. Until......
At a key fork in the trail, close to what I think is a dried up Lake Carpenter,
the correct trail to Aldrich Butte veers off to the left and goes straight up.
Someone hung a yellow flag from a branch to indicate the way which was much appreciated.
If you miss this turn you will eventually hit the PCT. Not making this turn is
probably correct if Table Mountain is your destination.
N 45 38.9255
W 121 58.6109
Nearly at the summit. The view West towards Beacon Rock. It's 13:00
but very dark and overcast. Still, it's mid 50's and just a little drizzle
which is a lot better than the upcoming low 40's and rains expected for the next
The Town of North Bonneville, Washington and Oregon on the other side of the Columbia.
I am assuming that this is the foundation for the old fire lookout tower. The
trees look to be 20-30 years old which would be around when this outpost was taken
out of service. There are a number of very large grounding cables around the
foundation of the structure's perimeter. I'm guessing they were worried about
lightning strikes. It's possible that anti-aircraft ammo was stored here but
you'd expect to see a concrete structure for something like that. If one was here,
it's long gone now.
Summit: N 45 39.2249 W 121 58.7602
The view East
There are 8-10 of these concrete anchors with rebar spread along the circumference
of this summit. Obviously the foundation for something big but no idea for what.
I think Table Mountain is off to the right but there is just too much low cloud
cover to be able to make out what's what. Perhaps someone will tell me what mound
this is straight ahead. I'm wondering if it's Hamilton but Hamilton shouldn't be
This is the true summit just feet from the open lookout area. This may be
where the gun mount(s) were located.
For those with a GPS, here's a TPX track file
Returned on January 1, 2011. A much colder day and very windy.
Low 20's and overcast but dry at least.
Did essentially the same hike, once again starting at Moffett Hot Springs.
A view of Oregon at the first rise.
A frosty Table Mountain. Bet it's a tough hike to the top today (or any day)!
View of Bonneville Dam, the Town of North Bonneville and Oregon from near the summit
Usually I like to hang around at the summit and enjoy the view and the rewards
of my efforts. But it was just too cold and far too windy to be hanging around
up there. So... a nice little 6-7 mile hike and back to the hot springs. Here's
a picture of their frosty fountain guarding the entrance. Even though the weather
wasn't the greatest, this is a nice, fairly easy hike and a chance to get out for
some fresh air.
Ride along the Crown Point Highway with stops at various waterfalls