Use this route to access the summit of this Teanaway peak, and you'll be pleased to find it's half as short as the standard 13-mile roundtrip approach. The trailside environment is stark, since this area burned recently, and while life is rebounding here, it’s still more austere than jolly. Note that this summit is also accessible via the West Fork Teanaway Trail, Yellow Hill, and Jolly Creek or Paris Creek, though all those are multi-mile treks, deserving of overnighting, or at least a very early start.
From the trailhead, set out heading northeast on a multi-use trail that parallels the road you drove in on. ORV users may use the old road by riding up and over a dirt barrier, but the hiking trail is nice, and you’ll be on that old roadbed soon enough (though not for long). After less than a quarter mile, rejoin the old road and hike uphill at a steeper grade. The road bends right, follow it. Continue climbing for about a half mile to an overlook and the road's end.
The views are great here, so catch your breath, take some pics, and then turn right. The route becomes true trail from here, climbing around the southwest side of a little knoll. Views to your right include Yellow Hill and the rest of the Teanaway, including the Teanaway Community Forest, as well as a patchwork design of burned and living trees, courtesy of the 2017 Jolly Mountain Fire.
At 2.2 miles you’ll begin descending steeply. You’re heading to an intersection, where a few different trails converge. Like many places in this area, there are multiple ways to access Jolly Mountain. The trail to the left is the Jolly Mountain Trail (you’ve been hiking the Sasse Ridge Trail), so you may see other hikers who are coming up from the Cayuse Horse Camp trailhead.
From this intersection, continue straight onto a short climb on some lovely rock to views of Mount Stuart before traversing and arriving at another intersection, 0.3 miles from the last one. This one features a charred trail sign, marked "W Fork Teanaway River" and “Jolly Mountain 1”, presumably indicating it's one mile to Jolly Mountain from here. Pay close attention here; the leftmost trail is the one for Jolly Mountain. Taking the other one will send you down the West Fork Teanaway River Trail.
That trail climbs again almost immediately on a rocky path for another 0.7 miles (contrary to the sign at the junction). Here a very faint trail comes in from the left. Unsigned, this trail junction is with Jolly Creek, whose trailhead is off the North Fork Teanaway River Road. It’s from here, not from the W Fork Teanaway Trail junction, that it’s one mile to the summit of Jolly Mountain, and you have a short traverse before the switchbacks begin in earnest.
Once the climb begins, you'll weave through miraculously unsinged forest as you climb. The trail gives you peek-a-boo views to the south and north of both Mount Stuart, the backside of the Enchantments, and the Teanway Community Forest. Finally, round a shoulder and you can see the summit. Traverse on the east side of the summit, then switchback up a couple more exposed sections to your destination.
The views from here are superb. Like any good fire lookout, you'll enjoy 360-degree views, panoramas of the Cascades, the Teanaway area, the Enchantments, and Mount Rainier if it's clear. Closer to your feet, look for hardware from when this place served as a fire lookout, and take shelter before heading back down.
WTA Pro Tip: With so many ways to reach this summit, be sure you're taking the right trail down – it’s a long way to your car should you end up on the other side of the mountain.