Drive east on State Route 20 to the Baker River Highway and beautiful Baker Lake. The area around this nine-mile reservoir features camping, boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking and pack and saddle trips.
Developed campgrounds are located on the western side of the lake.
The Baker Lake Trail is an easy family hike. It extends along the eastern shoreline, crossing Baker River at the north end of the lake.
Mt. Baker National Recreation Area (NRA)
This impressive mountain landscape on the southeast flanks of Mt. Baker’s slopes offers year-round recreational fun. During summer months, hikers and stock parties share trails leading off from the end of Forest Service road 13 or through the Middle Fork and South Fork Nooksack River drainages. Winter recreation includes cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
Explore the Skagit Wild and Scenic River System
Segments of the Skagit, Sauk, Suiattle and Cascade rivers make up the federally designated Skagit Wild & Scenic River system.
Baker Lake Sockeye Season
Sockeye season could open as early as July and fishing enthusiasts will be flocking to Baker Lake.
This is a wonderful family hike for all seasons with its low elevation and level grade. Stands of giant old growth trees draped in lichen and covered in moss are some of the highlights along this trail. Baker Lake Trail is the only trail on Mt. Baker Ranger District open for stock and llama use year round. It can also be accessed at the north via Baker River Trail 606.
This trail leads into a majestic stand of Douglas fir that regrew after Mt. Baker erupted and started a forest fire in 1843. You can still see the burned snags of the cedar trees that once dominated the area. From south to north, the trail contours the eastern shoreline of Baker Lake, offering glimpses of Mt. Baker. All along the trail spot western trillium, twinflower, foamflower, coralroot and twisted stalk.
Cross Anderson Creek at mile 1.5 by a single foot log or a horse ford. A spur trail at mile 1.8 goes left .3 miles to Anderson Point and campsites at the edge of Baker Lake. Continue two more miles on Baker Lake Trail and find another spur trail on the left that leads .3 miles to Maple Grove Camp. Boaters and hikers often use this campground with six tent sites.
In 4.5 miles along Baker Lake Trail pass campsites at Silver Creek and 1.5 miles beyond Silver Creek reach the junction with Noisy Creek Trail 610.3. Turn left to Noisy Creek campsites on the point or right to hike Noisy Creek Trail 610.3.
If you continue on Baker Lake Trail, you’ll cross a footbridge over scenic Hidden Creek in three miles. The trail drops down to parallel Baker River to the trail's end at the intersection with Baker River Trail 606. Horse camps are available near the Baker River Trailhead, approximately .5 miles south of the Baker Lake Trail terminus.
Hike this trail south to north: There is no bridge crossing over the Middle Fork Nooksack River from the Forest Service Road 38 trailhead access.
Wind through pleasant forest to arrive at two buggy mid-elevation mountain lakes. Start at the Pioneer Horse Camp near the end of Forest Service Road 12 and climb 1,000 feet in 3.5 miles to reach the junction with Bell Pass Trail 603.3. Turn left at the junction, enter the Mt. Baker Wilderness in about .25 miles and reach Lake Doreen in .75 miles. Soon after find a spur trail to the right leading to campsites on the east side of Elbow Lake. Continue on the main trail; descend gently past Elbow Lake, through some boggy areas and among ancient trees for 1.5 miles to a view of the Twin Sisters Mountain Range. Hike another two miles to the northern trail terminus near the Middle Fork Nooksack River. There is no bridge over the river to reach the north trailhead and fording the river may not be possible during high river flows.
Elbow Lake and Lake Doreen are popular fishing spots.
Follow the Ridley Creek drainage through Mt. Baker Wilderness to Mazama Park and end at the junction of the Bell Pass Trail 603 in the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area. Large western hemlocks and groves of Alaska yellow cedar highlight this trail. In the first 0.5 mile you cross the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River. There is no bridge and fording the river may not be possible during high river flows.
Note: Ridley Creek Trail has received minimal maintenance over the past several years and is not recommended for stock.
Travel east on Interstate 90 to Snoqualmie Pass, where a multitude of recreational possibilities await you. Don't miss downhill skiing at Snoqualmie Pass. Hike for endless miles in the awe-inspiring Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Mountains to Sound Greenway
Drive Interstate 90 east from Seattle to Snoqualmie Pass, stopping along the way to fish for trout in the Snoqualmie River, or meander along the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail, a one-mile walk through stately old-growth fir and cedar. Leave the freeway at milepost 47 and drive the Denny Creek Road, following the historic wagon route used by early settlers to cross Snoqualmie Pass. Fourteen trailheads access more than a 100 miles of trails ranging in difficulty from "almost easy" to "punishing." Hike to scenic ridgetops or peaceful mountain lakes.
Allow time to walk along the Gold Creek Pond Interpretive Trail, where mountains are often reflected in the pond, providing great photo opportunities.
The Wilderness Experience
Snoqualmie Ranger District is responsible for the stewardship and preservation of the Clearwater Wilderness, portions of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the Norse Peak Wilderness. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy this wild landscape while preserving its integrity and beauty for future generations.
Cross Humpback Creek and climb steadily and sometimes steeply up the western slope of Silver Peak. Traveling south through old clear-cuts, cross the abandoned Milwaukee Road railroad line, now John Wayne Trail. Approximately a mile and a half west of two-mile-long Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel in Iron Horse State Park Trail enter old-growth forest at .75 miles. From here, take switchbacks up the mountain for the next two miles and level out about a mile before the lake. The trail ends near the lake outlet with good campsites across the outlet on the northwest side of the southwest section of the lakeshore.
Enter the forest and climb 0.2 miles, crossing an unpaved road servicing Bonneville power lines and a trail junction. Turn left and follow the road approximately 0.7 miles, crossing Alice Creek over an old a concrete culvert. A switchback and a climbing traverse ascend the embankment of the former Milwaukee Road Railroad, built in 1908 and abandoned in 1980. It is now part of the John Wayne Trail. Cross the John Wayne Trail at milepost 1.0 and continue up the trail, crossing Forest Service Road 9020 at milepost 1.9. Cross the road and continue.
The trail gets steep and switchbacks through woods revealing peak-a-boo views of the valley and surrounding peaks. At approximately milepost 4.5 cross a ridge to the west side of the peak and see views of the Cedar River Watershed and eventually Seattle and Puget Sound.
Traverse the west-facing slopes to a saddle and viewpoint just below the summit ridge at approximately 5.4 miles. The viewpoint at the end of the trail is a good place to stop and enjoy the scenery of the Snoqualmie Valley stretched out below. From the end of the trail, a short exposed scramble leads to the summit of McClellan Butte. Use extreme caution if you climb the rocks to the summit, they are slippery when wet and a fall could be fatal.
The Middle Fork Trail crosses an unusual arched beam cable-hung bridge just below the confluence of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Taylor Rivers. After crossing the bridge turn left at junction with Pratt River Trail 1035. Turn upstream and enjoy walking between the river and overhanging cliffs.
At 0.75 mile, climb away from the river and pass under a prominent knob known by locals as Stegosaurus Butte. Another mile further, follow the old logging railroad grade used by North Bend Timber Company in the 1930s. At three miles descend again to river level. You can follow the Middle Fork Trail for miles on trail and abandoned 1930s-era railroad beds through mature second-growth forests with remnant old-growth trees and snags with occasional views of Garfield Mountain and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. At milepost 5.8 a spur trail will take you to the end of Middle Fork Road 56 and Dingford Creek Trail 1005. At milepost 8.5 intersect the Rock Creek Trail 1013 to go to Snow Lake, a short side trail to Goldmyer Hot Springs at milepost 11.0, where a private fee is charged. Join the Dutch Miller Trail at milepost 14.5. Floods on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and debris flows from tributary streams destroy short segments of the trail on a regular basis. Stream fords may be difficult or dangerous to cross during high water.
This portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail heads south from Snoqualmie Pass. Cross open ski slopes before cresting the ridge and dropping into the forest. In two miles arrive at Lodge Lake, a surprisingly peaceful area, despite its close proximity to the ski area and highway.
Past the lake meander through alternating timbered and clear-cut sections towards Olallie Meadow and through Windy Pass into the Wenatchee National Forest and beyond. The open terrain and occasional clear-cuts allow for panoramic views of Mt. Rainier and the South Cascades.
Cross the Taylor River on a concrete road bridge and follow the old overgrown Taylor River Road through second-growth forest. Abandoned spur roads and paths lead down to the Taylor River for a picnic or a dip in the river on a hot day. Other destinations include the unsigned and unmaintained Marten Lake Trail 1006, departing at milepost 2.8. Check out the pool and falls, best seen from the wooden footbridge crossing Marten Creek. If you arrive at the foot bridge you've past the trail to Martin Lake. Follow an unmarked hard-to-find boot path on the left to reach Otter Falls and Lipsy Lake at milepost 4.75. Look for a cairn marking the junction. If you miss it you’ll come to Big Creek Falls and a concrete road bridge within a fourth mile, a worthwhile destination and good turnaround for a day trip.
At approximately 6.3 miles from the trailhead arrive at a trail junction with Nordrum Lake Trail 1004. The road ends here. At the junction, turn left, follow the trail and enter Alpine Lakes Wilderness and untouched forest, passing viewpoints and waterfalls in route to Snoqualmie Lake at milepost 8. Follow the trail along the lake before climbing steep switchbacks to Deer and Bear Lakes and finally arrive at a pass at milepost 10. Here the trail becomes Dorothy Lake Trail 1072 and descends to Lake Dorothy and points beyond.
The historic Mather Memorial Parkway (State Route 410) is the gateway to a recreational haven. On a clear day, enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. For more excitement, take a spin in the off-road vehicle area at Evans Creek, or zip down the slopes of Crystal Mountain Ski Area. Or if you prefer solitude, escape into the solace of the forest and leave the world behind.
Mather Memorial Parkway
Created in 1931, this paved two-lane classic Cascades drive along Highway 410 from Enumclaw to the eastern edge of Mount Rainier National Park presents majestic views of Mount Rainier and surrounding peaks. More than 200 miles of trails accommodate hikers, horses and mountain bikes. Drive, hike or ride to the Suntop Lookout Cabin at the top of Forest Road 7315. Choose a primitive campsite along forest roads east and west of the parkway. In November buy a permit at the Enumclaw office and take the family out to the woods to cut your own Christmas tree. Most forest roads are unpaved and minimally maintained. Cell phones have limited coverage in the mountains.
Leaving the trailhead at Sand Flats, climb three miles through scattered old growth and subalpine timber, across alpine meadows and past a couple of lakes before erupting onto a high wind-swept ridge with beautiful views of Mt. Rainier to the west and Castle Mountain to the south. If the climb has exhausted you, turn around here for a modest six-mile round-trip.
The better option is to continue along the ridge for three miles to the top of Chairlift 10 and the Crystal Mountain Summit House, a restaurant atop the Rainier Express ski lift. At times you will tiptoe along the edge and at other times the ridge spreads out to a thick crop of wildflowers in early June and huckleberries in early August.
From here descend along a service road to the road's first switchback for .3 miles before finding Crystal Mt. Trail 1163 on the left. Follow the trail downhill through alpine basins to the junction with Henskin Lake Trail 1193 at mile 7.8, which leads to Pacific Crest Trail 2000 at Bear Gap. At mile 8 you will reach lower Henskin Lake and further along come to the junction with Silver Creek Trail 1192 at mile 9.1. Turning right (south) on Silver Creek Trail 1192 will take you to Pacific Crest Trail 2000 at Bear Gap in about a half mile. Turning left (north) on Silver Creek Trail 1192 will take you to the Crystal Mountain Resort base area in 1.5 miles. Or make it a loop route by walking or biking along the road or power lines for 2.0 miles, returning to Sand Flats.
Suggestions for an easier hike: Use two vehicles: one parked at the Crystal Mountain base area parking lot and one back at the trail at Sand Flats. Ride the chairlift at Crystal Mountain and hike Crystal Mt. Trail 1163 through the basins and use Silver Creek Trail 1192 to return to the Crystal Mountain base area, 5.6 total miles one way.
This is an easy two- mile hike for all ages through lush moss-laden old-growth forest to Greenwater Lakes, also known as Meeker Lake. Continue five miles to Echo Lake and experience the Norse Peak Wilderness. For more adventurous hikers, travel another six miles up to Corral Pass for views of Norse Peak and the basin below.
To Greenwater and Echo Lake: Start in an old harvested area and travel along the Greenwater River through old growth timber with mossy cliffs, pockets of licorice ferns and seasonal wildflowers. As you hike watch for signs of deer and elk browsing through the valley. You will cross the Greenwater River multiple times before reaching the Lower Greenwater Lake at mile 1.7. Arrive at Upper Greenwater Lake at mile 2.2. Both lakes and the river offer fair fishing for anglers. Hikers wanting a longer route can continue up to Echo Lake or Corral Pass. Just above Upper Greenwater Lake enter the Norse Peak Wilderness. You will come to your first trail junction at mile 3.2 to Lost Lake Trail 1185 going south. Begin climbing steeply at mile 5 and through a few switchbacks up the valley wall. At mile 5.6 you will come to another trail junction leading to Maggie Creek Trail 1186, which goes east. Reach Echo Lake Basin at mile 6.6 and a spur trail to a campsite on the north end of the lake. Horseback riders will find a small horse camp on the south end of the lake with tent sites and hitch rails. The junction to Arch Rock Trail 1187 is on the south side of Echo Lake at mile 7.4 and goes east. Echo Lake is a beautiful spot to get a little rest and relaxation before heading back down the trail.
To Echo Lake and Corral Pass:After leaving Echo Lake follow the trail to Corral Pass. You will come to the junction with Hidden Lake Trail at mile 9.5 and go east. Begin a steep climb through old growth timber to the junction with Castle Mountain Trail 1188 at mile 10.8, which heads west. Continue to ascend through sub-alpine timber, reaching Corral Pass at mile 12.
Hikers seeking alpine scenery with panoramic views and patches of wildflowers won't be disappointed. This trail provides access to the Norse Peak View Trail which enters the Norse Peak Wilderness. In the summer be prepared for dust, biting flies and carry extra water for this is a dry trail.
Begin this trail 500 feet up Forest Service Road 7190410. It is a steady climb up this steep route. Reach the junction with the Norse Peak View Trail 1191.1 at mile 4.0, which takes off to Norse Peak, an old lookout site. On a clear day the peak offers views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Stuart, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker and the Olympics. As you climb up the Norse Peak Trail enjoy the beautiful close-up views of Mt. Rainier. At mile 4.8 cross a ridge and descend to the Pacific Crest Trail 2000 at Big Crow Basin. Use the easier grade trail to help stop soil erosion on the steep slopes.
Big Crow Basin has an old Civilian Conservation Corps shelter built in the 1930s that can come in handy during a sudden storm.
This trail takes you to the shores of Summit Lake, a wide, cold and crystal clear alpine lake at 5,400 feet. On calm days the lake has a mirror-like surface reflecting Mount Rainier. Wildflowers dot the shores in a variety of colors, from avalanche and glacier lilies to phlox and paintbrushes.
Start your hike in a harvested area; walk through switchbacks and into old growth forest. Enter the Clearwater Wilderness at mile .7. At one mile come to the junction with Carbon Trail 1179 near Twin Lakes. Continue on and you’ll reach Summit Lake at mile 2.5.
Attaining the summit of Sun Top requires considerable energy, but the views of Mount Rainier and the White River valley below are worth the workout. Keep an eye out for deer and elk that visit the lower sections of this trail.
Start on level ground and hike through old growth timber and gradually climb before crossing road 7160310 at mile 1.0. Climb into an old harvest unit and meet up with FS road 7160 at mile 2.4 and follow it to the left around a switchback for .1 miles to the trail on the right.
Continue on to the junction with Doe Falls Trail 1174 at mile 2.5 and cross Buck Creek at mile 3.7. Climb to the ridge top and follow it to Forest Service (FS) Road 7315 at mile 7.5. To the left is the junction with spur FS road 7315510, continue to hike from the left (northwest) corner to the lookout. From this point the trail may be hard to follow. At mile 8.0 cross FS road 7315510 and continue to climb to the lookout. Once you reach it, enjoy a commanding panoramic view of the area. On a clear day the view is superb, with Mt. Rainier only 10 miles away to the south, the central Cascades, Olympic Mountains and Mt. Baker 150 miles to the north.
Linking Darrington with Granite Falls is the Mountain Loop National Scenic Byway, which was first pioneered in 1891 by miners` dreams. Later developed as a road by loggers and members of the CCC, this road was designated a Scenic Byway in 1991. Today`s roadway passes 55 miles through boom-and-bust town sites and abandoned claims, as well as rushing rivers and glacier-clad peaks. Although the tracks are gone and the daily whistle silenced, today`s traveler can still see remnants of times gone by.
Discover the Verlot Public Service Center, near the South Fork Stillaguamish River. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933 to 1942, Verlot`s handsome buildings reflect the architectural style and fine craftsmanship of that era and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Operating seasonally, the center`s employees will help you plan an outing.
With snow lingering at Barlow Pass through late spring, driving the entire loop is usually limited to late spring through the fall. The road is paved from Verlot to Barlow Pass and from Darrington to the junction with the White Chuck River Road. The middle portion (14 miles) is a single-lane gravel road.
This trail accesses Glacier Peak Wilderness. Begin hiking on an old road that climbs steadily and then drops to a junction with the Crystal Lake Trail. Stay right and continue another four miles to the former road end where the trail takes off left and climbs steeply through dense woods before reaching the first meadow. A small stream nearby suggests a relaxing pause for lunch. Continue on for another 1.5 miles until the junction with the Meadow Lake Trail 657A on the left (east). Drop down 0.7 miles to the 11-acre lake. The main trail continues on past the lake turnoff, angling up a ridge passing forest and meadows at two miles.
Continue gaining and losing elevation, with numerous switchbacks and excellent views of Glacier Peak. Although camp spots are frequent along the way, the first site with guaranteed water is at 8.5 miles. The ridge crest is neared at 5,850 feet. From here, you’ll need a compass and map to reach 9.6-acre Diamond Lake at 5,250 feet and 11-acre Emerald Lake at 5,150 feet, since there is not a trail to either lake. The trail continues up and down, remaining below the ridge crest and proceeding through patches of trees, flowers and views. At 12 miles the trail drops steadily as you pass Fire Mountain. Good camping can be found here. This is the point to turn back and return to the trailhead. If continuing, the unmaintained trail will drop steeply down switchbacks 4.5 miles to the junction with the former White Chuck Trail, which was obliterated in the 2003 floods. The old route leads west, back to the now decommissioned upper five miles of the Whitechuck River Road 23.
Starting at the northern boundaries of the forest, take a drive on the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway (State Route 542). This paved road starts at the Interstate 5 interchange in Bellingham, Wash., winds along the scenic North Fork Nooksack River, and climbs to an elevation of 5,140 feet to its well-named destination, Artist Point. This area is legendary for its spectacular views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. Stop by the Glacier Public Service Center just east of Glacier at milepost 34 to learn about current forest road and trail conditions.
Mt. Baker - A State Scenic Highway and National Forest Scenic Byway
State Route 542 is a Washington State Scenic Highway and a National Forest Scenic Byway. The forest byway begins just east of the town of Glacier as the route enters the national forest, leading travelers to historic Heather Meadows, home of the Mt. Baker Ski Area. Forest roads lead off the main highway into the heart of the national forest with trails accessing the Mt. Baker Wilderness and North Cascades National Park backcountry..
Four Seasons of Recreation
During summer months, Mt. Baker's 10,781 foot snow-covered peak rises above the landscape. On a clear day, several vantage points offer spectacular views of neighboring Mt. Shuksan and surrounding slopes of the Cascade Mountain range. Hikers can head out on more than 200 miles of trails and campers can enjoy long evenings in rustic settings. The fall months bring cooler temperatures and lower snow levels, limiting hiking access to the high country. Several side roads are groomed, turning them into a winter playland for snowmobiles and cross-country skiers. During winter months the Mt. Baker Ski Area operates in Heather Meadows at the end of the byway. .
Heather and huckleberry meadows dotting the Heather Meadows landscape near the eastern end of the Mount Baker Scenic Byway, (State Route 542). Glistening lakes nestle between knolls. Ridges bristle with 900-year-old mountain hemlock. Lava flows from Mount Baker have resisted glacial carving and columns of basalt stand like black anvils against the sky. During the summer months enjoy a picnic, stroll the trails and stop by the Heather Meadows Visitor Center for a historical perspective of the area’s rich heritage..
The south-facing Goat Mountain Trail is one of the first in the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway area to melt, making it a good early summer hike with beautiful flowering meadows. Start by switch-backing steadily up through the forest, catching peek-a-boo looks at the views. At approximately two miles the trail enters the Mt. Baker Wilderness. The maintained trail ends at approximately 5,400' on the shoulder of Goat Mountain. On a clear day, take in panoramic views of icy Price Lake at the base of Price Glacier on Mt. Shuksan. A steep scramble, recommended for experienced hikers only, one mile up to 1,500 feet of elevation leads to the top of Goat Mountain and even more far-reaching views.
Start out in second growth forest, which quickly opens to grand views of the Ruth Creek Valley within Mt. Baker Wilderness. The trail grade is fairly level for the first mile and then begins a gentle climb for the next 2.5 miles. In early summer see numerous waterfalls and the occasional avalanche cascade down the steep cliffs of the Mt. Sefrit and the Nooksack Ridge to the south. The white dome of Ruth Mountain appears after the first mile. Open views are almost continuous as the trail only briefly enters small patches of forest. Approximately a half mile below the pass is the turnoff to the right for the Hannegan Camp. To continue to the pass, stay left, as the trail steeply switchbacks through sub-alpine forest.
At Hannegan Pass, encounter a signed junction with Hannegan Peak Trail #674.1, which gains 1,200 feet in one mile to the summit of Hannegan Peak. To the east is an unmaintained mountaineering route leading to Ruth Mountain and Icy Peak. One mile north of Hannegan Pass the trail enters the North Cascades National Park. This is the first leg of the very popular Copper Ridge loop. The trail also accesses Whatcom Pass, Easy Ridge, an extended trip across the North Cascades Picket Range to Ross Lake Reservoir, and other less traveled locations in the North Cascades National Park.
Four dispersed campsites with fire rings and picnic tables and a day-use shelter are located at the trailhead.
The south facing Excelsior Pass trail section of the High Divide Trail is one of the first in the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway area to melt, making it a good early summer hike. From the Excelsior Pass trailhead the High Divide trail enters Mt. Baker Wilderness and switchbacks steadily up a forested slope, with evidence of old forest fires visible for the first two miles. In four miles you will break out above the timberline and into heavy brush. At 4.2 miles the trail reaches the meadows of Excelsior Pass, with outstanding views of Mt. Baker and the Nooksack Valley. Veering left at the junction of Excelsior Pass leads to Damfino Lakes Trail #625 (hiker only). Stay right at the junction to proceed along High Divide. The trail gradually gains elevation and reaches a junction about a fourth mile from Excelsior Pass. To the left ascend another fourth mile, 5,699 ft. elevation to Excelsior Peak, or stay right to reach a high point of 5,930 ft., approximately two miles from Excelsior Pass. From the 5,930 ft. high point the trail travels up and down 2.5 miles to Welcome Pass. At Welcome Pass turn south and descend steeply 2.5 miles to the Welcome Pass Trailhead.
The trail maintains a fairly level grade, following the river, winding in and out of stream gullies, passing through groves of old and young trees for approximately 6.5 miles to Canyon Creek, where several camp spots are available.
Approximately a half mile beyond Canyon Creek is the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail and the south crossing of Suiattle River. At this junction the trail becomes the Pacific Crest Trail north and continues toward Suiattle Pass. Follow the PCT/Suiattle Trail easterly from the junction for another three miles to the junction with the Miners Ridge Trail 785 on the left (north).
Traveling along Highway 2, enter the center of the forest along the Skykomish River, a rafting adventurers' dream.
Grab your skis! In just two hours you will be gliding down the slopes at Stevens Pass Ski Area. Check in at the Stevens Pass Historic District for an overview of the area's colorful railroad and mining past.
The first mile and a half of the Pacific Crest Trail National Scenic Trail built on the former Great Northern Railway grade is level. After that it is up and down for the next thirty miles as the PCT passes through the Skykomish District on its way to Dishpan Gap and the Darrington District before reaching the ultimate destination-Canada. The trail travels through old growth forests, meadows of wildflowers and over ridges with breath taking views that attract hikers from around the world.
The first 1.5 miles of the trail are level, following the original grade of the railway. Enter the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and just a little over five miles from the trailhead you will see deep clear blue water of Lake Valhalla (4,838 feet), nestled under the dramatic Lichtenberg Mountain.
After 1.8 miles, the PCT reaches the first of many junctions, Smithbrook Trail 1590 at Union Gap. From there, head 2.2 miles to Lake Janus (4,146 feet). There is no reliable water source between Lake Janus and Grizzly Peak although you’ll enjoy refreshing views of Margret Lake, Glasses Lake and Heather Lake. Find two more junctions within the next mile past Wenatchee Pass, Top Lake Trail 1506 and Meadow Creek Trail 1057 at Pear Lake (4,809 feet). After that, it’s approximately 10.5 miles to the next lake on the PCT; Lake Sally Ann (5,479 feet).
Continue through Saddle Gap where the trail intersects West Cady Ridge Trail 1054 .7 miles below Benchmark Mountain. The trail drops to Pass Creek Trail 1053 junction in 1.6 miles, continues through Cady Pass and intersects Cady Creek Trail 1501 in 0.3 miles. Cady Pass crosses over from the west to the east side of the Cascade Crest.