Purcell Mountain Trail

HARD 7 reviews

Purcell Mountain Trail is a 4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Randle, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

4.0 miles
1,486 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips



wild flowers


This strenuous, multiple switch back trail gets you to the top of Purcell mountain if you're willing to devote your time and a lot of effort into it. From the top of Purcell, you can go right to Whale Back mountain or left of Grassy (both local names). Beautiful, untouched, seldom traveled, steep mountain meadows dotted with trickling waterfalls. Look out for wildlife as black bears are frequently seen enjoying the bear grass at the top.

4 months ago

Purcell Mountain Trail #284

There are two trails to Purcell Mountain Lookout. Trail #285 (via FR63) and Trail #284 with access from Hwy 12. An access trail from Hwy 12 to trail #284 made it much easier to get to. This access trail was made within the last month or so. Yesterday I was finally able to hike it. Trail #284 is the longer of the two trails at 7.7 miles one-way. The shorter trail is 4.2 one-way and as TR’s indicate, the one accessed more, overgrown and hard to get to.

There is parking in a pullout across Hwy 12 or on the same side next to the access trail. The access trail is sandy and inconspicuously meets trail #284, so much so that I missed it on the way back. It is steep right from the get go. Trail #284 is just as steep and overgrown in the first miles. Actually the whole trail is overgrown but lower parts are worse.

There has been some recent maintenance as blowdowns are cut and one blowdown was routed around. This trail is all elevation gain, right from the start. Only one flat-ish spot around the 3100ft level makes a good resting point. From here it continues elevation gain but not as steep and starts resembling a regular trail. Pleasant actually.

First signs of snow were at 3700ft but only one spot. It was clear for the next .7 miles til after a trail junction marked by an old non-used barbed-wire gate. Right is the Purcell Mountain Trail, left goes toward a location unknown to me. After I got back, I found out it goes toward Grassy Mountain and not marked on any maps I could find. This is also the first signs of water on the trail.

Take the left junction a hundred feet for a nicely flowing stream, 4.3 miles in at 4011ft. Go right to stay on the Purcell Mountain trail. I got blocked by snow 200-300 feet after the junction. It was constant and I lost sight of the trail. I took the left junction to see where it went and turned around after it appeared to be going more down than up and away from where I wanted to go, Elevation, 4100ft. Elevation gain to this point, 3228ft in 4.9mi.

Going down was a much needed reward and fast! 1.75hrs total going down. 5hrs going up. It seemed there were more tripping…. hazards going down than up. From rocks to round twigs to small branches crossing the trail and rain and wet. It rained going down which made an overgrown trail soaking.

All and All this is an exciting and strenuous trail. It’s easy to get to. Leave early and plan on 15 miles RT. There are no views however… they come later (I hope). Only 1 flowing water source on the trail 4.3 miles in and this could be seasonal, but I suspect one of the many that feeds Hopkins Creek. Plan accordingly. I will certainly be doing this later I the year.

11 months ago

Difficult trail to find and very strenuous. We could see 4 peaks at the top so it was worth it!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Yesterday, I hiked the Purcell Lookout Trail #285. The hike starts on unmarked, overgrown and not drivable FR6310 where it meets Purcell Lookout Trail #285 after ¾ mile. It’s on the west side of the road and easily missed. I drove past it about a mile where snow stopped me. Sparse parking only allows one, maybe two vehicles.

The hike starts on FR6310 with a somewhat discernable trail through the grass. This soon becomes more overgrown but direction of travel and orange tape indicate the way. Someone marked the trail with orange tape. MANY THANKS to this person. The tape makes route finding easy which comes in handy at higher elevations.

Soon you’ll ford Davis Creek which was quite raging this time of year. It’s somewhat wide and the other end is a doable 10-15ft climb up the bank. Look for orange tape to mark the way. Hike this overgrown FR6310 for about ¾ following orange tape if need be til the signed junction of Purcell Lookout Trail #285. This is where the switchbacks start. The switchbacks are lightly traveled but discernable and orange tape marks the way. There are a couple long switchbacks in the beginning but soon they get closer together. Some views of Mt. Adams, Pompey Peak, Tower Rock and others can be seen through the trees.

Snow started at the 3900ft level and became almost constant at the 4000ft level. There were some breaks in the snow that were much welcomed but they become shorter as you gain elevation. Follow orange tape. Now the trail is covered by snow but direction of travel and thankfully orange tape mark the way. Old blowdowns block the trail and at times become heavy. This especially obscures direction of travel and coupled with heavier snow makes it easy to lose the trail. Yet there is still orange tape to follow. Sometimes tape takes you off trail around the obstruction. However, do not rely on the orange tape. There were some times where the tree the tape was on was crushed by blowdowns or snow. Be confident in your route finding during these times.

At 4300ft I stopped for lunch and turned around, 600ft from the top. Too much snow and too many blowdowns. Funny how when traveling in the opposite direction on the same trail route finding is different even easier.

While overgrown in the beginning, and snow and blowdowns near the top, this was still a great hike and was only moderately difficult. It will become even easier in late June or mid-July.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I wrote the overview for this trail. I've hike up this mountain probably 6 times with my dad. My dad even created his own trail (0.87 miles in 2700 ft elevation gain) up to Grassy and I'm pretty sure he and I are the only ones crazy enough to hike it in the middle of winter. The actual Purcell trail is a seemingly endless line of switch backs but once on the ridge, you merely hike to the left at the Y and greeted to large open meadows. Like I said, watch for black bears! In the 5 times I've been up here, I've seen a black bear 3.

1 day ago

4 months ago

Saturday, May 07, 2016