A few inches of new snow prior to a mid-week snowshoe outing transform this trip into a tranquil walk into the Eightmile Creek valley. Extending the trip with a climb out of the valley leads to viewpoints along the road.
If you try this trip on a weekend or holiday, you'll be accompanied by the sound and smell of snowmobiles. The excitement starts with the unloading activity at the large Eightmile Snowmobile Sno-Park. It will continue throughout the trip as they courteously pass on their way to destinations deep in the valley. But you're more likely to have a quieter trip mid-week.
From the Sno-Park (elevation 2110 feet), follow the central snowmobile exit and cross USFS Road 51 (West Chewuch) and start the climb up USFS Road 5130 (Eightmile), groomed for snowmobiles. The road climbs in the Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir forest. The blackened bark is from controlled burns used to remove brush and mimic the natural fire cycle. At 0.7 miles (elevation 2330 feet) is a junction with USFS RD 5130-100 (Buck Lake) . Go straight (northwest) on Eightmile Road, shortly coming within sound of Eightmile Creek in a small canyon. Continue for along the canyon for 1.0 mile to a one-lane bridge with short railings over Eightmile Creek, which is starting its tumultuous descent to the Chewuch River.
The first 100 yards above the bridge has a steep hillside above the road to the right (northeast), which drops snow and debris onto the road.
After a level 0.5 mile, reach the entrance to the aptly named Flat Campground with snow-buried picnic tables and two accessible vault toilets. Continue 0.1 mile beyond the campground to the signed junction with USFS Road 5130-300 (Eightmile Ridge) at elevation 2570 feet.
Turn right onto Eightmile Ridge Road (northeast) and start the climb up the slope of Paul Mountain, leaving the grooming behind. Follow the road as it climbs for 2 miles to an unmarked junction in a switchback (elevation 3170 feet). Continue left (northwest) for 0.5 mile to the junction with USFS Road 5130-315 (elevation 3350 feet), passing a viewpoint along the way.
At the junction, leave the road and go south southeast for 0.1 mile to the top of bump 3383 feet (summer campsite) with an open slope below it. This makes a good turn around point for the trip.
Take in the views of Buck Mountain, across the Eightmile Creek Valley, and down the Chewuch River valley. Barely visible through the trees to the northwest is Sherman Peak.
For those so “inclined”, the route up Paul Mountain is a climb of 860 feet using a combination of road (5130-300), abandoned roads (5130-330, 5130-335), cross-country, and rock scramble.