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Overview: Pleasant hike up Italian Ridge to the lookout tower at the summit of Shorty Peak.
Hike: The start of the trail is well signed at the southwest edge of the small parking area at the saddle. The trail heads west, and the ascent starts immediately but is gentle for the first three-quarters of a mile. Footing is good, and easy on the knees with packed dirt, but few rocks. The vegetation is dense, almost rainforest-like in places, so views are limited. Moss covers a lot of the rocks, and we saw at least a half dozen different types of mushrooms along the trail. After about three-quarters of a mile, the trail continues to head generally west but becomes noticeably steeper for the next half mile. There are some tree roots to contend with, but the footing is still good.
As the trail turns to the southwest, it flattens out and the next three-quarters of a mile or so are a breeze--nearly level, easy walk in the park, but still no real views. At about two miles, a signed side trail for a spring leads off to the right, and the main trail continues straight ahead. A short distance later, the lookout tower atop Shorty Peak finally comes into view ahead of you. At this point, the trail begins to steepen. After passing through a small clearing, which has the first real views of the hike, the trail gets even steeper and rockier as it makes its way up the eastern side of Shorty Peak.
As you approach the summit, the trees give way, and the tower sits alone atop the peak. Views in all directions from the balcony of the tower are outstanding, making this short hike definitely worth the trip. There are some rocks on the south side of the tower on which you can sit and relax. During the summer months, the tower can be reserved online for an overnight stay, and you will receive the code to the combo lock for the door to the tower. Lone Tree Peak is just west of Shorty Peak, and it appeared there may be a use trail between the two peaks for those who are looking for an added adventure on this hike. Otherwise, once you are done enjoying the views at the summit, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Note: I had cell service for nearly the entirety of the trail, but it was from a Canadian provider/tower.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
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