Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 385 m View map Download GPS track
I hadn’t even heard of Pinetop Hill until a few weeks ago when Alison mentioned it was one of the few foothills she hadn’t yet hiked up. Today, with wind, cloud, and flurries enveloping the main ranges and our motivation similarly obscured, itty bitty Pinetop Hill started to seem like an ok idea to both Alison and I. There isn’t a trail up Pinetop Hill, largely because no sane person would consider it a nice hike, but the satellite imagery for the area suggested we could follow a rather circuitous old logging road to within a short distance of the summit.
We parked at the gate on the Homestead Road, just before the former rifle range. Signs indicated the area was private, but we interpreted these to refer to the rifle range, and as we had no intention of going near the range we figured it was ok to continue. After passing by the gate we followed the plowed road for one kilometer, then turned left onto a gated logging road. The snow was surprisingly deep and we immediately donned snowshoes before continuing, soon discovering a nearly invisible and ancient snowmobile track under newer snow that kept us afloat and made travel quite a bit easier.
After another 1.5 km we reached the intersection with the logging road I thought we could follow, but the snow was so deep and unsupportive in the open that it simply didn’t make sense to follow it today. Instead we continued a bit further along the main road before turning into the forest and its shallower snow and aimed directly for Pinetop Hill. Travel deteriorated considerably at this point and involved postholing up to knee deep in the snow, moderate to severe bushwhacking, pointless elevation gain and loss, and forest so thick and viewless we were reduced to navigating by GPS much of the time.
Despite the bushwhacking frustrations we reached the summit just a bit more than two hours after starting out. While we hadn’t expected particularly nice views, the view was even worse than our lowly expectations. Only a few nearby highpoints and a mountain or two were visible, and even those views were obscured by forest. We wandered in a circle for a bit to confirm we were actually on the highest point and to look for a better view, but never did find another opening in the forest.
On the descent we tried briefly to find a way around the worst of the bushwhacking, but it didn’t take long to realize the futility of such a venture and we quickly headed back to our uptrack. The remainder of the descent was uneventful and we arrived back at the truck a bit over 4 hours after leaving it, scratched and unusually exhausted from such a little hill.