Distance: 12.5 km
Elevation gain: 600 m View map Download GPS track
Mount Mann is the tiny mountain rising over the Highwood River south of Gunnery Mountain, just west of where Cataract Creek flows into the Highwood. I’d never really given it much thought as accessing it would require fording the Highwood River and its diminutive stature didn’t really justify that, but a recent trip report
revealed an additional attraction I hadn’t known about – the waterfalls and gorges of Cataract Creek. We’d also survived a ford of the Highwood last weekend and knew what to expect, and so in need of a short and easy hike today we decided to head up Mount Mann.
We parked in the remnants of the Sentinel Day Use area and then endured a cold, knee-deep crossing of the Highwood River just upriver of Cataract Creek. A bit of bushwhacking then ensued before we found the good trail heading along the west bank of Cataract Creek. Like our hike last week along Zephyr Creek, this trail was also in excellent shape with beautiful, open, and varied forest surrounding it. Cataract Creek was an added bonus with its wonderful gorges and cascades.
As we hiked up the Cataract Creek trail we passed multiple faint trails and easy routes up Mount Mann, but opted for the easiest option: A very gentle ascent via its south ridge. About 3 km from the Highwood River and just before a side creek crossed the main trail we reached this point and turned west, following a cow trail around the south end of Mount Mann before turning north and starting up the ridge to the summit. A faint game trail existed most of the way along the ridge, but even when I lost the trail the open forest made hiking very easy. The grade was very gentle as well and only a few short sections could be described as even moderately steep.
Midway along the ridge an opening in the trees granted a narrow view to the west, and a lovely grassy area on the summit provided a view to the east and south and a nice place to have lunch. The rest of the ascent was in the forest, but we’d expected that and enjoyed being sheltered from the wind for a change.
Since the ascent had been so pleasant we decided to descend the same way, then spent quite a bit of time exploring a few areas along Cataract Creek. Deep green pools, gorges, and cascades, spawning trout, a friendly pack rat, and plenty of daydreaming about future camping trips and swims in the creek occupied our time. A quick hike out and another cold crossing of the Highwood river then returned us to the car, a leisurely 4h20 min after starting out.