Not just the first gate off of the highway, but also the upper gate for the last road to the trailhead was also open! So I was able to drive all the way to the trailhead. The last road past the upper gate is a bit rougher but still pretty decent. There is a small turnaround at the trailhead but not a ton of room so you will not want a super oversized vehicle up there.
The trail starts off brutally steep from the very beginning, heading straight up through the brushy newer-growth timber. The trail will gain a whopping 1800 feet in only about 8/10 of a mile! But this steep first part features plenty of red huckleberries to provide a constant treat along the way. Unfortunately for me these red huckleberries were not ripe yet, but a bit more time and they will be ripe. As I got higher there was a decent amount of ripe blueberries, but still plenty of berries still coming just coming in especially even higher up that still have a ways to go.
At a little over a mile, 4800 feet, the trail gains the ridge and becomes a much more pleasant grade through older silver fir forest, passing a couple nice viewpoints of the Skykomish Valley and town of Index. At about 1.3 miles there is a place at a talus garden that is a little confusing where the trail drops down a little to the right, as the trail stays west/climber's right of the ridge for a bit. My downloaded map on my GAIA app was helpful here, as the map shows this trail on it. At 1.5 miles the trail arrives in an open meadow. Follow the trail as it crosses the meadow and then follow the Karens - I mean cairns - up a talus field that leads to a large beautiful rocky basin that contains a pair of small pretty lakes. I went around the first lake to the left and continued to ascend up the path to the summit! Allow 2 hours to hike the 2 miles from TH to summit.
Some of the berry bushes were already turning red. The view of the Skykomish Valley and North Fork Skykomish Valley was fantastic despite the haze, looking out to Baring, Merchant, Gunn, Jumpoff. Close up view of the cliffy hulk of Mt. Index. On the way down I took some time to enjoy the lakes. I decided to take a quick dip, and since I had the whole place to myself, let's just say I didn't have any swimming trunks!
GPS track: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/Wjhiu1vt7wM0w5kLujS7DGUR