Gold Mountain (Kitsap Peninsula)

February 26, 2023


Bremerton / Kitsap Peninsula, WA

Despite the lowly status, the dumpster-ish summit of Gold Mountain is the highest point on Kitsap Peninsula, a large wooded area between Seattle/Tacoma and the southern Olympics. This is also the highest point in Kitsap County and boasts over 400 m prominence. An ascent of Gold Mountain might be more difficult than you think, with over 10 km round trip distance, some bushwhacking and/or trespassing required. The trespassing is because of Bremerton’s watershed. I’m not even interested in knowing where the boundary of that watershed is and I’ll leave that to the local Karens to figure out, but some says the summit route(s) on this peak do enter the restricted area. Nikita and I took a more direct bushwhacking route to access the true summit and we did not come across any “no trespassing” sign so we might have bypassed the watershed all together. The summit has three potential contenders, all forested or covered in facilities, and we made sure to have visited all.

The standard approach is via Tin Mine Trail from the west and we decided to take that as well. Nikita and I drove straight to the trail-head after completing an ascent of Mt. Walker earlier in the morning. The drive between the two trail-heads took an hour. There was at least 20 cm of fresh snow but we opted to leave the snowshoes in the car. Mt. Walker was 300 m taller and didn’t require us to use snowshoes so we were confident that they wouldn’t be needed here. In retrospect the snowshoes would actually come handy on the long FSR slog if not because of the biker and trail-runner’s tracks. The previous night’s storm had dumped more snow here than in the eastern parts of the Olympics.

Gold Mountain via Tin Mine Trail. GPX DL

There are lots of trails on the lower flanks of this peak and I mostly just followed the downloaded GPX tracks from the previous peakbagger’s reports. None of us came here with any detailed research so we were heavily relying on the technology for navigation. The trail actually ascends a large and open cut-block with views to the west, then brought us to the long FSR system on Gold Mountain’s west flanks. The hiking on the FSRs might seem boring but the road was open enough to grant views here and there. We crossed path with a trail-runner with his dog, and an electric-biker and both of them were on the descent. Without their tracks we would be post-holing quite heavily. The trail-runner’s track stopped a couple kilometers short from the summit but the biker’s track continued further.

The start of Tin Mine Trail
Nikita plodding on the wet and muddy trail
We came out of the woods in short time
Following a set of tracks upwards into a massive cut-block
Nikita plodding across the cut-block
Tahuya Lake with the eastern peaks of the Olympics behind
There were some views but mostly views of the cut-block
Another photo of Nikita plodding with Tahuya Lake behind
Almost finishing this gigantic cut-block. Note the weather system behind.
Onto the endless FSR plodding… It was like this for miles
Just one microscopic section of the lengthy roads
Nikita taking over the lead for a brief moment
An eastern view towards Puget Sound lowlands
Nikita with the Olympics behind. All higher peaks were engulfed in clouds

Our reference track made a contrived detour to the east side of the summit area because he/she wanted to follow the roads all the way. I, on the other hand, had just learnt something from Matt J. that sometimes it’s better to ignore the “standard route”. I was frustrated about the monotonous post-holing so triple-checked the maps and made a spontaneous decision to directly attack the westernmost of the three summits by bushwhacking. Later at home I read elsewhere that bushwhacking on this mountain was “strongly advised against” but I couldn’t understand. The bushwhacking was definitely annoying but not that bad, even with half a foot of fresh snow to make things wet and slippery. There’s one short stretch of swampland that we crossed using two wet logs, some pick-up sticks and one unexpected bump that required us to lose 10 meters of “hard won” elevation but that’s it. After visiting the first (westernmost) summit I also made a bushwhacking short-cut to the second (supposedly true) summit. We also checked the meaningless easternmost summit just to be 100% sure and then went back up to the first summit. This time we bypassed the middle summit using the road on the south side.

About to cross that swampland. The log’s actually floating on water
The typical bushwhacking over one intermediate bump
Arriving at the westernmost summit
Nikita and I on the westernmost summit of Gold Mountain.
Nikita gained several extra meters of prominence here…
Arriving at the middle (supposedly true) summit of Gold Mountain
Abandoned machines under the easternmost summit

The navigation back across the bushes was very straightforward as we had our own footprints to follow. The few annoying sections also didn’t feel that annoying on the return so we were back to the FSR in short time. We then mostly power-walked the FSRs and the Tin Mine Trail and made back to the truck in under 3.5 hours round trip. The new plan was to catch a ferry ride from Kingston to Edmonds and have dinner in Seattle vicinity, but I was too spent to drive after about half an hour on the road. I pulled over, took a nap and eventually drove to the terminal and caught the 6:10 pm ride back to the mainland. We did find a restaurant for dinner but that turned out to be a hell expensive one. I would not recommend. The weather was still shitty on the mainland such that it snowed quite heavily from Everett to Mount Vernon, and I eventually got back home at 10 pm. Nikita unfortunately had another hour of travel back to Richmond.

Starting the descent following our own tracks
There were bushwhacking, but never that bad
The snow definitely made things more treacherous
Despite the snow coverage, the ice underneath was thin
As you can see, the weather on the mainland was terrible for the whole day
Nikita taking a short break for views
The view here was good enough that we opted to take another group shot
Resuming the long ass plod back across the FSRs
Nikita with another weather system over the southern Olympics
Typical, typical..
We got a clear view of Mt. Walker that we did earlier in the day
About to dive back into that cut-block. The weather finally caught us..
Expensive dinner in Edmonds vicinity…