Van Zandt Dike

November 2, 2022


Acme, WA

Van Zandt Dike is a large forested plateau on the immediate east side of Highway 9 between Deming and Acme and this entire plateau is riddled with old and new logging roads. These roads aren’t gated and extend to very much the high point but to reach the true summit one has to do some bushwhacking. The crux is by no doubt to figure out the driving direction. These roads aren’t labelled on the Gaia map and are somewhat incorrectly labelled on the USGS Topo. I think those official maps were outdated. The best tool to navigate this maze of roads is actually the satellite images. There were several trip reports on but none was super detailed. I made sure to have downloaded all three map layers and I was confident to be able to figure out the direction on field.

I made this spontaneous decision the night before as I only had half a day available to do anything. I was exhausted at work recently so driving far, car-camping or making an all-nighter push was not part of the consideration. I didn’t even bother to set up an alarm so didn’t wake up until 9 am and subsequently didn’t leave home until almost 10 am. Thankfully Van Zandt Dike is not too far from White Rock and is mostly a drive-up so I could still get back home in time for the 3:30 pm work. After the usual border and gas routine I made my way eastwards down some countryside roads to the small community of Acme. From there I turned onto Mosquito Lake Road and then turned onto the signed logging roads. I navigated the maze of logging roads using a combination of the USGS Topo and the satellite layers. The USGS Topo was pretty outdated. I made one error and that’s because I put too much fate on the government’s topo maps. To avoid making any more mistake I simply controlled the wheel in one hand while holding the phone’s satellite GPS screen on the other hand and that got me to the highest logging spur near the summit. I opted to park and walk the final kilometer on the road as I didn’t want this outing to be a complete motorized ascent.

Van Zandt Dike drive-up and thrash. GPX DL

This ascent turned out to be harder than expected. A spur road was shown to extend all the way to the true summit according to the topo map but that spur was deactivated, overgrown and does not extend to the highest point. While walking along the good portion of the roads I got some views towards east which was a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting much in terms of views from this lowly dumpster-dive. I then discovered the highest spur was in a treacherous shape. It wasn’t actually too bad to walk to the end but it was clear that I wasn’t standing on the highest ground. The “dot” on the peakbagger app was wrongly labelled so I ignored that. Instead, I bushwhacked northwards past the road’s end into some dense and wet logging slash and the secondary growth forest.

My truck parked about 1 km before the driveable end
I opted to have a short walk instead of driving to the top
Those taller trees are likely at the true summit area
Following this road to the east side of the true summit area
Bowman Mountain to the SE covered in clouds
Forested hills (unnamed) at the entrance of Middle Fork Nooksack River
Traversing the most scenic stretch of this stroll
Me at the driveable end not far from the summit of Van Zandt Dike
The fall colours were still here
I soon realized the highest logging spur was deactivated
This was very much the end of the road
I followed this overgrown road northwards for as far as I could
Me on a possible contender of the true summit of Van Zandt Dike

I soon realized that the actual high point would be nearly impossible to determine, so I bushwhacked around back and forth to tag a few contenders. I still wasn’t sure whether or not had I reached the absolute highest point but by doing that much of bushwhacking I felt okay to claim this peak. The bushwhacking was horrible enough (BW4 and sustained) that the best way to escape was to continue thrashing northwards to intersect the logging road instead of backtracking. I was completely drenched by the time I got back to the logging road. A short walk later I was back to the truck. Not wasting much time I immediately turned on the engine and drove home. I wasn’t doing particularly good on time but I did eventually get home with enough spare time for lunch, a shower and a nap before showing up at work.

I then thrashed to the NW in search for more true summit contenders
I soon realized that this was a terrible idea but it was too late to turn around
I had to push through some level-4 bushwhacking in the wet and the cold
I was relieved to have made a loop descent down to the logging road