The Hex Mountain winter route provides a rare opportunity to reach some phenomenal viewpoints with low avalanche danger. A nice portion of the route climbs a ridge through sparse pine trees, granting sweeping north-to-south views of Cle Elum Lake. The stunning scenery from the top, including the Alpine Lakes Wilderness to the north (with particularly intimate views of the Stuart Range) along with rolling foothills toward the barren lands of Eastern Washington, showcases the arrant contrast of Washington's landscape.
After parking along the west shoulder of SR 903 on the south side of the Newport Creek bridge, carry your snowshoes or skis up the highway for 0.2 miles to Forest Road 116 on the right. The first mile of the route zigzags through a series of junctions and spur roads, and it can present a mild navigational challenge if you happen to be pioneering the first tracks of the day. Use your best judgment to stick with the main road (always in a northeast fashion) until approximately 0.5 miles in, where it is important to bear all the way to the right.
At 1.7 miles and 3,485 feet, the forest road reaches the signed Hex Mountain summer trailhead. Here you get a small taste of the sprawling lake views to come. The trail cuts up the hillside, eventually gaining more open territory and the beginning of a ridge. There are some incredible views of Hex Mountain and the remainder of your route, along with the Newport Creek basin below. For the next mile up the ridge, it is definitely worthwhile to look over your shoulder often before crossing into the dense Wenatchee National Forest. Once you meet the Sasse Ridge Trail junction, hang right for an additional 0.2-mile push up to the bare summit.
Note: Though this is a low risk adventure in terms of avalanche danger, always check avalanche and weather conditions before traveling in the backcountry.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.