Claypit peak is a prominent ridge on the eastern side of Cougar Mountain park. There are no official trails in this area, so I just had to explore.
On a gorgeous sunny day, I was again looking for a moderately short run without a whole lot of ups and downs.
I started at Sky Country Trailhead and headed up the road toward the clay pit. I took a little diversion to run past the mine air shaft. What a hole — just disappears down into the darkness. It is awesome to think that the mine entrance is way back on the other side of the park.
At the clay pit, I found a little path leading to the right and up. I followed it to the east, and eventually found a trail leading into the woods to the south, just beyond a big pile of soil. I followed this trail, up the hill, expecting it to peter out at any time. But id did not give out, but continued around the peak. At one time, this must have been a road.
View From Clay Pit
After a while there was a very pronounced linear depression, reminding me of the Bagley Seam near the Red Town trailhead. Only this one was running almost N/S, perpendicular to the coal seams. Maybe this was some kind of exploratory trench made by miners? The trail either followed the depression, or ran along the berm to one side or the other. The depression was filled with water in many places.
The trail followed this feature quite a ways, then suddenly veered right and headed directly up the slope to the top. The trail was still easy to pick out, but obviously rarely traveled, because there was an undisturbed covering of leaves from last fall. It wandered around, seemingly aimlessly, over the height of the peak before gradually trending down. I was surprised to suddenly come across the East Fork trail. The junction had been brushed-in, so that it was not obvious that there was a side trail.
I continued back up toward the clay pit again, and then back down to the trailhead.
I should mention, by the way, that hiking off the trail in this area is not recommended by the park service. While I did not see any hazards, that does not mean that they were not there. It did occur to me that if I injured myself, I would not be able to count on anyone coming by to find me. Next time I venture off the trail, I will carry my emergency beacon.
If I venture this way again, I think I will try to connect up with the Wilderness Peak trail.
GPX: Claypit Peak