An elk bugle is an eerie sound whether you are tucked in your tent or hiking down a wilderness trail. In late September, Roosevelt elk are bugling both day and night on the Tumac Plateau whose forests and meadows are perfect elk habitat.
Start this hike at the Dog Lake Campground on the Cramer Lake Trail (#1106). At 1.3 miles, reach North Fork Clear Creek which can usually be crossed on logs or by rock hopping. Hike past Cramer Lake to meet Shellrock Lake Trail (#1142) at 4.2 miles. Turn north (left) for 1.5 miles to the junction with the Tumac Trail (#944).
Turn east and ascend the volcanic cone of Tumac Mountain to a former lookout site. Soak in the views of Mount Adams looming over the Goat Rocks and the bare slopes of the White Pass Ski Area to the south, Mount Rainier to the west and the Twin Sisters Lakes and Blankenship Meadows below.
When you are ready to move on, continue down the Tumac Trail from the summit to the junction with Sand Ridge Trail (#1104) and on to Twin Sisters Trail (#980). Turn west past the Twin Sisters Lakes to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (#2000) and hike south to return the way you came. The numerous lakes in this area provide many camping opportunities so consider extending this hike into a multi-day backpack.
WTA Pro Tip: The hundreds of wet meadows, ponds and lakes of the Tumac Plateau are “mosquito heaven” until September’s cold nights bring bug season to a close.
Note: The Cramer Lake and Shellrock Lake legs of this loop were lightly burned by the Cold Creek Fire in 2020 so stay alert for hazard trees.