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Jester Mountain - Triple Peak Loop

Photo: This view from Iron Bear Peak isn't altogether hideous.


Jester Mountain - Triple Peak Loop
by Roger Gervin

This enjoyable loop, which follows ridge systems a bit south and west of Blewett Pass, has wonderful positioning, great views in all directions, and could be called triple-peak loop. The route leaves Forest Service Road 9714 heads up Iron Bear Peak, traverses over to Jester Mountain, circles around to Point 5,459’, and then drops you back down to Road 9714.


Activities.  Hiking, snowshoeing, ski touring.

 

 Photo: Nope, these aren't Iron Bears on the summit, just two old goats

Distance and Elevation Gain. In summer, the loop is roughly 7 miles long if you use trails where you can and descend, cross-country, down the SW ridge of Point  5,459’ The loop has about 2,400 vertical feet  of gain. In winter, the loop mainly avoids trails, is about 10 miles long, and has 3,000 feet of gain.

Summer  Difficulty and Fitness: 2 (intermediate)
Winter Difficulty and Fitness: 2+ to 3-(advanced intermediate or easier advanced)

Access. Drive Highway 97 south of Blewett Pass about 5.5 miles . If coming the opposite direction, drive 2 miles north of Mineral Springs. At milepost 158.3, FS Road 9714 enters on the west side of the highway. If you do this route as a summer hike, drive 3 miles up Road 9714  to its end and start up Trail #1351. In winter, you’ll usually park at the intersection of Road 9714 and Highway 97 (el 2,930 feet).

Permits. In summer, a Northwest Forest Pass is needed to park at the trailhead.


Photo: Two jokes leaving Jester Mountain and headed toward Point 5459' (second bump).


Trip Instructions.
  • In summer, hike Trail #1351 from the end of Road 9714 and follow it 2 miles to Iron Bear Pass (4,450’). Turn right at the  trail intersection here and, in another 1.5 miles,  reach the top of  Iron Bear Peak (5,489’). From here you can descend the way you came or follow the high ridges east for 1.4 miles as you go over Jester Mountain (5,520’) and Point 5,459’. A few hundred yards east of this last summit, descend the SW ridge that drops directly down to the road.
  • In winter, walk FS Road 9714 to its end (about 3 miles from Highway 97, elevation 3,630 feet). Rather than trying to follow the trail very far, it’s easier and shorter to cross the creek, stay to the left of the summer trailhead sign, and head directly up the SE ridge to the summit of  Iron Bear Peak (5,489’). In thin snow conditions, the route is brushy at first but improves quickly with elevation. Nice views (Rainier and some of the smaller Teanaway peaks) start at about the 4,800-foot level. Good views of Earl, Navaho, Miller and the Three Brothers, the Stuart Range and more are all visible from the top of Iron Bear Peak.
  • Leaving Iron Bear, you have to give back 150 feet of elevation before starting the 300-foot climb to the partially treed summit of Jester Mountain (5,520’).  Note: While Jester Mountain is on the Back Court 100 List, Iron Bear doesn't meet the list criteria. That being said, views are actually better from Iron Bear.
  • Follow  the high ridges east from Jester. You’ll drop about 300 vertical feet before climbing 250 feet to reach the partially treed summit of Point 5,459’. Now continue SE for about 200 yards to find the SW trending ridge that drops you directly to Road 9714. Retrace the road back to the cars.

Additional Information
  • For a personal description of what three of us encountered when we snowshoed the loop on 12/21/2011, see this trip report at NW Hikers.
  • For Roger Gervin’s slideshow of the route with many more pictures and some additional details about the loop, click here.
  • A description of hiking to the top of Iron Bear Peak was listed as the Hike of the Week in the Seattle PI.

The GPS data and map below were prepared by Rod Yates


More Snowshoeing: Maps and details of over 80 regional trips in our on-line guidebook.

Leave It Better Than You found It: 
This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash others have left behind, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse fire rings found at campsites (they encourage more fires), throw logs and branches over spur trails and spurs between switchbacks (make it harder to do the wrong thing than the right thing).

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:
 Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Things change and those contributing these reports are volunteers--they may make mistakes, fail to give complete information, or may not know all the issues affecting a route. So forget about finger pointing: If things go wrong, you are completely responsible for yourself and your actions. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.