The trail up Little Bald Mountain follows the edge of a a northwest-facing rim rock cliff that melts out a month or so earlier than areas farther west. It's the perfect answer for those looking for an early season high country fix and often has wildflowers blooming when, or even before, Chinook pass opens. The trail runs along the boundary of the William O. Douglas Wilderness and is open to motorcycles, cyclists, hikers, and equestrian traffic. No water is available and the way can be hot and dusty by June.
From the trailhead kiosk follow the narrow trail as it climbs its way steeply up the hill in front of you, making a few switchbacks. At 0.7 miles cross a road and 100 yards later turn left into a campsite next to another gravel road. Past the campsite, follow the trail steeply straight uphill 0.4 miles to another campsite at the end of a primitive gravel road. Regain the trail across the campsite at a sign for "961". The trail continues to climb then rounds a corner at 2.2 miles from and 1115 feet above the parking area.
From here, go downhill for 0.2 miles emerging on the rim of a basalt plateau with views west toward the distinct cliffs of Fife's Peak. The trail climbs a gentle grade from this point on, passing through sparse Ponderosa pine forests and meadows with occasional views into the Bumping River Valley.
5.6 miles from the trail head, round a corner and catch your first glimpse of Old Scab Mountain, a distinct peak who's name suits it from this angle. A half mile later, arrive at a high cliff with views extending deep into the Bumping River valley and Mount Rainier peeking just above the top of the American Ridge. This makes an excellent spot for day hikers to rest, take in the views, and consume snacks and water before returning back down the ridge.
Extend your hike: Follow the trail an additional 4.5 miles, gaining 1,506 more vertical feet to the summit of Little Bald Mountain (6108 feet). This is the site of a former fire lookout that burned down in 1980. This section switches to the east side of the crest occasionally and holds snow later into the season.