Yeon Mtn offtrail scramble to Nesmith Ridge (Prim Trail)

RSVPs start on Friday June 28th at 9am.

Please read the entire description before signing up.

The leadership group at NW Wilderness worked overtime in order to bring you this gem of a scramble.  Do you enjoy offtrail hiking scrambles?  Exactly what is it like to scramble up an entire mountain face?

Yeon Mountain is the 3400 ft mountain just west of Nesmith Point.  Yeon has no maintained (nor unmaintained) hiking trails, but there must be a way up the north side, right?

Turns out there is a way up.   On the NE "buttress" of Yeon Mtn, there exists a slight path allowing one access to the steep forested face of the mountain.   This almost seems impossible when faced with the near-vertical rock face on the "front" of the mountain.   However, there was a small group of stout hikers that has proofed this out (thanks Barb and Nicholas!).  See our detailed trip report on

We are going to start out at the John B Yeon parking area and head west onto the washed out section of trail #400.  After about 1 mile of climbing around/over/through the overgrowth on the #400 trail, we head north on an old forest road, then take the Tumalt Creek drainage system towards the base of Yeon Mtn.

We will follow the drainage to the NE corner of Yeon Mtn.  We will scramble up the NE corner of Yeon, and then do a little "twist" near the top of the NE buttress of the mtn to get us onto the north edge of Yeon.

There is supposedly a "ridgelette" at this point offering fantastic views to the north and east.  Ever wondered what it is like looking almost straight across to Nesmith Point to the east?





Some of the views on the way up:




















One of the small plateaus we will visit on our way up the buttress:

Once on top of the NE buttress of Yeon, our journey has only begun.  We must cross to the northern face of the mountain and scramble up, up, up (yes up!) the front of Yeon under forested cover.  The scramble becomes constant hand-over-foot to the point you wonder whether it can get any steeper.  Here, the terrain dramatically changes and begins to level out.  At this point, we have reached the back half of Yeon mountain where we will have lunch right next to a 2000 ft dropoff, and then continue our pilgrimage.















We will follow the Yeon Mtn ridge south where it continues to level out, back to Horsetail Creek trail #425.  There will be some great views of the Gorge from the plateau, weather permitting.  Heading east on #425, we will glance by Nesmith Pt, and take Nesmith Pt trail #428 to the Corky's Corner offtrail section on the east side of Nesmith Ridge.  This offtrail section is also called the "Prim Trail" within historic texts.

This offtrail section down Nesmith Ridge can be a "difficult" grade hike in itself.  The descent has some steep sections, requiring good route finding skills.  Poor decision-making down the ridge causes one to end up traversing some rather dicey sections (my bad Rick!), so it will be important to stay together. We shall watch the late afternoon sun (hopefully) cast shadows over Nesmith Ridge as we continue down the offtrail section to Elowah Falls, where we get back on-trail, then back to the cars.

Bring: 2-3 liters of WATER (no water source on Yeon, except at bottom), TEN ESSENTIALS, good hiking boots, gators, gloves, good hiking poles (for the descent).   I will bring a rope, just in case. However, we should not need it.

We will meet at the NE 99th Ave Gateway Center and arrange carpools to the hike start point.

Hike Start Point: John B Yeon parking area

Hike Type: Loop hike

Distance: 11 miles (approximate)

Hiking Time: Approximately 10-11 hours.

Total elevation: 4000 ft

Difficulty: VERY DIFFICULT (Bring your "A" game folks) due to steepness, length of scrambling and mostly offtrail travel.

Permits Required: NW Forest Pass

Distance is 80 miles round trip.

Carpool cost is 10 cents per mile, per person.  Please bring exact amount ($8.00)

No dogs.

Please do not ask to be back at any specific time.  We will consider stopping for dinner afterwards.

If the weather forecast for this event calls for rain, we may postpone this event for safety reasons.

I need to limit the group size, once again for safely reasons.  Due to the very difficult nature of this hike, I may email folks to obtain additional information regarding their hiking experience.  If I do not receive a response to these questions, I shall remove you from this hike for the safely of the group.

This is not an easy hike.  Both the ascent and descent could be difficult-grade hikes on their own.

This adventure appears in the "Gorge Classic Climbs" book by Tim Olsen.

My Hiking Style:

I have three basic rules for hiking: 1) Be safe 2) Respect the environment and 3) Have fun!  I do not consider myself a "fast" nor "slow" hiker.  We will take a number of short breaks, as well as a lunch break, keeping in mind to finish before dark.  At the end of the day, my hope is that the hiking group feels they have had an adventure for all the right reasons.


PARTICIPATE AT YOUR OWN RISK; Northwest Wilderness Group organizers are volunteers. We come prepared to lead you on a trail or off trail hike but assume no liability for your safety getting to or from the trail-head or on the hike. In case of accident, illness, or other incapacity, hikers must pay for their own medical and/or evacuation expenses, whether or not the hiker has specifically authorized them.

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  • Rick L. J.

    There are some interesting markers on the ridge of Languille crags. Its a bit of a loop though. Cooper spur side might be a better side for this route.

    1 · July 16, 2013

  • Akhtar

    Craig set the bar way up high with this one.. what's going to be next?! Absolutely awesome!

    2 · July 14, 2013

    • Craig G

      I am looking at Barrett Spur with a bit of offtrail through the Dollar Lake area. Also working on charting a 26 mile, 5700 ft ascent all-day hike to prepare for the TripleD hike. The last hike I am thinking about is called "Larch Mtn, The Wrong Way". Stay tuned :)

      2 · July 16, 2013

  • Jovian

    With the style of a Rick Johnson off-trail scramble, Craig has successfully created a masterpiece of an adventure! Not for the faint of heart (LOL), this passage up the wall of Yeon Mt. has rarely been seen by the human sort. Following research and exploratory scrambles, Craig has shared this wonderful adventure with us! And it could not have been done with any weak links in the Team - but there were none. I think this was the strongest Meet-up group I have hiked with to date. What a day! (As for today ... LOL, today is a rehab day of R&R)

    3 · July 14, 2013

    • DIAN

      You think I might talk u into showing me the route maybe come fall?

      1 · July 14, 2013

  • Rick L. J.

    Yes, Katya "OUCH OUCH OUCH" is very appropriate. It was probably the most sustained climb I have done in the Gorge. It got pretty interesting when Katya and I ran into a Yellow Jacket nest, we got lucky that they didn't follow us far. Trying to run away we both were tumbling down thru the brush, I rolled right over Katya. Tally was 3 bee stings for me and only one for her. It beat us all up pretty good with lots of cuts, scrapes and multiple bee stings all around. A very good day indeed!!

    5 · July 14, 2013

    • Larry

      Hahahaha! Love it!

      July 14, 2013

    • Henry

      hey it was nice to see you guys, Rick. I flew by John B Yeon about 7:40ish and saw you guys in the parking lot. Quite the accomplishment that hike, congrats!

      July 14, 2013

  • Zeph

    Does anyone have Nathan Keene's phone number. I left my phone in his car yesterday? I sent him an email.

    July 14, 2013

    • Craig G

      I don't have it. Sorry. Hopefully he will contact you soon...

      July 14, 2013

  • Craig G

    Check out some of the forthcoming photos too. We found the Yeon "ridgelette" on top of the NE buttress. *Absolutely amazing* view at 1800 ft of the Nesmith ridge system - a view I have never seen before.

    July 14, 2013

  • Craig G

    This hike could have a 20 page trail report written for it. This all-star group of scramblers spent about 85% of the hike offtrail, through some very steep terrain, some thick brush on the NE buttress of Yeon, in areas travelled by less than 2 dozen people a year (Yeon Mtn). Amazingly enough, we did *more* then my original hike, going up the Nesmith Pt and following Nesmith Ridge all the way down offtrail - the group just kept asking for more! 11.4 miles, 4156ft ascent, high point 3864ft. 10:47:08 total time. The hike lived up to its billing as "Very Difficult". A total of three folks got stung going up Yeon but after some inspection, we were able to go on - great attitudes by all. Thanks to all who participated in this hike!

    3 · July 14, 2013

  • Larry

    Dying to hear how this went....

    July 13, 2013

  • Katya

    Ouch ouch ouch ... ouch!

    July 13, 2013

  • Zeph

    Great hike. Thanks Craig. A walk in the park!

    1 · July 13, 2013

  • Susan

    My friend just tipped me off that 84 eastbound will be closed all weekend between I-5 and I-84. So if you usually go that way to get to Gateway, plan a different route, and give yourself extra time in the morning. Have fun iup there.

    1 · July 11, 2013

    • Susan

      Sorry, between I-5 and I-205.

      2 · July 11, 2013

    • Craig G

      Agreed - please consider this Saturday morning. Thanks Susan!

      July 11, 2013

  • Jovian

    Craig, unless you prefer otherwise, since I live out that way I will meet the Team at the TH at 8am (ish) - I'll be there at 7:45

    July 2, 2013

    • Craig G

      Sounds good. I expect us to get to the TH around 815.

      July 2, 2013

  • Craig G

    There are a couple of things we will do that were not done on the exploratory hike: 1) We will venture out onto the NE corner ridgelette for (hopefully) fantastic views of the Gorge 2) Look for the "Mystery Pillars" off to the west of the mtn mentioned on historical Gorge lore.
    There was a notable amount of bear scat on the south part of Yeon - maybe Rick will get his wish and see a bear up there?
    We will also see the end point of the "Patagonian trade route" a climbing route used by at least one pair of hikers to get up onto the ridge.

    June 27, 2013

    • DIAN

      Ohhh...mystery! Bear scat? Even better!

      1 · July 1, 2013

  • Craig G

    This looks to be a rather experienced group - a good mix of folks! I will be following up with emails on weather and other conditions as we get closer to the Meetup date.

    July 1, 2013

  • Rick L. J.

    Cant wait Barbara! He is much more prepared than I ever am.

    June 27, 2013

  • barbara s.

    Craig is a great leader so if you are in good hiking shape, sign up. This was a tough hike but at the end of the day, it was so much fun.

    2 · June 23, 2013

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