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Eagle Creek

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Oval Lakes, Summit, Eagle Creek, Indian Head Basin — Aug 18, 2011 — Perry
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
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Thursday 8/18 was the start of a 6 day pack trip in the Chelan Sawtooth. I took 3 of my packgoats: ...
Thursday 8/18 was the start of a 6 day pack trip in the Chelan Sawtooth. I took 3 of my packgoats: Chelan, Chinook and Hershey.

The FS access roads off of Twisp river are good gravel roads, although the last mile or so on the Eagle creek road is a little washboarded. There is a nice trailhead parking area. This was the first time I’m been into the Chelan-Sawtooth from this trailhead, so I was interested in seeing what the trail was like.

I drove part way to the TH the day before, so we were packed up and on the trail before 10am. The TH is at 3000 ft. It’s a good trail, climbing moderately but steadily. I noticed that the grass and brush were much greener that some of the other Sawtooth access trails I’d been on; perhaps the late snow year, or because this TH is further west.

About 1 mile in I met a couple who recalled seeing me on Miller peak a few years before. They also told me they had met a family earlier who were packing with goats. I don’t often meet other goat packers on the trail. I understood they had seen the other people near Silver lake, which is on the Eagle creek branch of the trail…and I was planning to go the up Oval creek branch…so did not expect to meet them. Shortly I came to the crossing of Eagle creek…put on the sandals and forded the creek. The crossing was obviously built as a horse ford…with a large log on the downstream side to make a level gravel area in the stream (and 12” – 18” deep pond). The water was about 4”-6” deep flowing over the log. It looked like there were a couple small poles across the stream, upstream a little ways which might have provided a dry crossing, but not easy to get to.

A little while later I met 3 kids, who informed me that they had pack goats…then came the dog, dad, 4 packgoats, and mom with a baby on her back. We had a brief visit. They had been out for 10 days, and it sounded like they’d covered a lot of country and had a great trip.

The trail up Eagle Creek has been relocated in this section. The topo map, FS Lake Chelan-Sawtooth wilderness map, and my old copy of 100 Hikes, all show the Eagle creek – Oval creek trail junction before the crossing of Eagle creek; with the Eagle creek trail continuing up the north side of Eagle creek. Green Trails show the current location…about 1/3 mile after crossing Eagle creek. The Eagle creek trail then swings around to Eagle creek and re-crosses it to the north side.

The Oval creek trail continues climbing steadily through the woods. At about 6 miles, 5800 ft there is a small meadow with a campsite below the trail, near the creek. From there the trail gets steeper, switchbacking up 1200 ft in about 1 ½ miles to the junction with the ¼ mi side trail to West Oval Lake. We took the short side trip over to West Oval Lake. I tied the goats at the stock hitch rail, and went the last little ways down to the lake. The goats were not too happy about being left behind. It’s a pretty lake. There I met a couple guys who had there jackets on as mosquito protection.

We returned to the main trail and continued up. I found a place to camp on a little knoll in the meadow/tundra below Oval pass, at about 7200 ft. Looking up I could see the trail crossing the steep scree slope above. There were some large snow patches, but it looked like the trail was mostly snow free.

Friday we continued up to the trail junction at about 7500 ft…right to Oval Pass, left to Middle Oval Lake. We headed toward Middle Oval Lake. The trail goes up over the east ridge of Gray Peak, at about 7650 ft and another trail junction. We took the steeper, eastern trail directly down into the meadows above Middle Oval Lake. The other branch of the trail was covered by moderately steep snow. The area above Middle Oval Lake from 7400’ to 7100’ is open meadow with lots of larch scattered about. It will be beautiful the first week of October. We continued on down to Middle Oval Lake, and had a nice lunch break there. When we got back up to the meadow area, rather than go back up the way we came, I headed south and picked up a side ridge which headed up to the main ridgeline between Gray peak and Courtney Peak. There were bits of path at times. Once on the main ridgeline we followed the easy ridge NW toward Gray Peak, often on a path. When the ridge started to rise more steeply toward Gray Peak, we contoured around to the west through the meadows at about 7700’, then picked up the boot path leading down the ridge, north, to Oval Pass.

From Oval pass we took the trail down into Horseshoe basin and Tuckaway Lake, where I found a nice spot to camp on the hill east of the lake.

Saturday we headed down to the Chelan Summit trail and took it SE toward the junction with the Fish Creek Pass trail. This 2 mi section of trail is through meadows and scattered burned trees from one of the recent forest fires. There were a couple nice patches of wildflowers. In some of the burn area the willows are growing up, making the trail a little brushy. At the signed junction with the Fish Creek Pass trail we headed up towards the pass. The trail soon vanishes in the meadows, but travel is easy. When we got up to the flattish tundra like meadows west of Star Lake we head across the meadows to the lake for a quick swim. From Star lake, we headed back down toward the Summit trail, taking the well defined trail which connects to the Summit trail about ¼ mile south of the signed junction. We headed south on the Summit trail, climbing to the 7400’ saddle on the east ridge of Baldy Mountain…and took a lunch break there. The wind kept most of the bugs away. From the saddle the trail drops into a very pretty meadow basin with larch trees. About 1/3 mile down the trail there was a side path leading SW into the meadows SE of Baldy. We followed it and found that it led to a horse camp. Coming back I noticed the old, abandoned, part of the Summit trail heading down through the larch. I decided to follow in down. I soon came to another trail that likely led to the horse camp. I headed east on that path and soon reconnected with the current Summit trail…continuing on down. Just before the junction with the Indianhead Basin trail there was a small stream. There’s also a camp site near the junction. We took a break there, but it was brief…the biting flies were quite annoying. We headed SW on the Indianhead Basin trail. It soon climbs out of the woods and contours around a nice meadow basin on the SE slopes of Baldy. It then goes over a ridge and traverses above Surprise Lake. At the junction with the trail down to Surprise Lake, it was obvious most of the traffic this trail sees, goes down to the lake. We continued on up the little used trail toward Indianhead Basin. At the last big larch trees before the pass going toward Indianhead Basin (about 100 yards before the pass), we dropped off the trail and contoured down and around to the first (northern) lake by Finney Peak. The lakes are about 200’ lower than where we dropped off the trail. I found a spot to camp on the hill NW of the first lake.

As usual, I unpacked the goats and let them browse while I set up camp. After a while they went up onto a little hill east of camp and disappeared (they usually stay within sight of camp). I put my boots back on, and went up to get them. When I got up there…no goats. The east side of the hill is cliffs dropping pretty much straight down a couple hundred feet into the basin below. I started calling the goats, after a few minutes Chinook and Chelan appeared from the cliffs, but no Hershey. I continued calling; Chinook and Chelan made some bleating sounds near the edge of the cliffs, so I suspected Hershey was down there someplace. After a long 10 minutes Hershey appeared from the cliffs. The goats love cliffs, but they sure make me nervous!

The next morning we went over and visited the SE lake. There is a bit of a boot path from the outlet of the NW lake, over the ridge, to the two small ponds which are between the two lakes… very pretty lakes, lots of larch. After exploring around, we headed back. When leaving the Finney lakes, we headed down a grassy stream gully into the basin below and connected to the Surprise lake trail. For access to the Finney Peak lakes I prefer they way we went in, to get to them. We headed back to the Summit trail, then north. In the basin east of Baldy the new trail swings east into dry rock terrain. At least in larch season, I think where the old trail was would be much prettier. We continued north; then up to the meadows west of Star Lake for that night’s camp.

Monday morning we headed NW on the Summit trail, continuing past the junction for Tuckaway Lake and Horseshoe Basin. The next mile is through very pretty meadows with scattered larch…contouring up to a saddle on the ridge, then heading down about 900’ to a crossing of a stream west of Eagle Pass. At the stream crossing is a nice flattish meadow area, surrounded by woods. This basin is mostly wooded with a mix of fir and larch. We then headed up over Eagle Pass and down to a nice camp at about 6600’ on the east side of Eagle Pass. We got some rain for an hour or two that night.

Tuesday we headed on down the Eagle Creek trail. The first couple of miles to about 5700’ were through a mix of woods and meadow. We forded Eagle creek at the crossing, although there was a decent looking log a little way down stream. Overall I thought the Eagle Creek trail, particularly the upper part would be a nicer/prettier way to access the area that Oval Creek trail (until West Oval Lake). Using the Eagle Creek trail does mean one additional crossing of Eagle Creek.

There were still some good sized snow drifts on the east side of some of the ridges and some snow patches in the woods. There were not a lot of bugs, but at times the mosquitoes and biting flies were quite annoying…and I got a number of bites. There were some really nice patches of wildflowers. Overall a great hike!
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Oval Lakes, Oval Pass, Silver Lake, Eagle Creek — Jul 31, 2011 — trailhop
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Snow on trail | Bugs
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Well the plan was to do a loop up Eagle Creek to Silver Lake then over to Tuckaway Lake and down thr...
Well the plan was to do a loop up Eagle Creek to Silver Lake then over to Tuckaway Lake and down through West Oval. As I found out later my Green Trails map does not show the new trail to up Eagle Creek. So after bush-wacking up the now abandoned trail for a mile with the Kiddo's (5 & 8) we turned around at a huge washout that makes the old trail pretty much unpassible. As I am sure alot of others will agree with, it is getting harder to tell which trails are now abandoned verses just poorly maintained by the FS.

Anyway, we backtracked to the Oval Creek trail and found a camp site along the creek about 4 miles from the TH. Of course we passed the new trail at the top of the first set of switchbacks but didn't think we had the energy to make Silver Lake. The next morning made for a great hike to West Oval Lake. The lower trail could use a good rain shower to settle the dust (well used horse trail) but the upper half of the trail is in pretty good shape for the amount of 4 legged travellers. We had the lake to ourselves for 2 nights and the bugs were just tolerable.

On the layover day we headed for Oval Pass and Tuckaway Lake. The north side of the pass still has snow field that are easy to cross but turned us around. A little to much expose to drag the 5yr through. We were able to cross over to the Grey Peak saddle that leads to Middle and East Oval. Still some snow in the basin but easy to cross.

Headed back down to West Oval with plenty of Glissading practice for the kids. After a couple of hours yo-yoing the snow feilds we made it back to camp and hiked out the next morning.

Maybe next year will try for the loop again.

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Eagle Creek, Oval Lakes — Aug 03, 2010 — Mountain Boy
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Duplicate Report. See my August 2nd 2010 report....
Duplicate Report. See my August 2nd 2010 report.
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Oval Lakes, Eagle Pass, Eagle Creek — Aug 02, 2010 — Mountain Boy
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
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TH starts at 3000 feet. It had just rained a couple days ago so the trail was not dusty at all. I di...
TH starts at 3000 feet. It had just rained a couple days ago so the trail was not dusty at all. I didn't see anyone on the trail except my trusty dog, Bandit, for this entire trip even though there were 2 cars at the parking lot when starting (& 2 more upon return). After 1.5 miles there is a creek crossing which was manageable. The trail climbed steadily and the huckleberries were ripening. I skipped the turn off to West Oval and kept going up past treeline to a saddle just below Grey Peak at 7500 feet. The views were great from there. The mosquitoes started at about 5500 feet. Dropped down thru meadows to middle Oval Lake and set up camp. Great views of Courtney. Head net came in handy to keep the bugs at bay. Many Tamaracks in the area which would make this a great fall hike after the bugs are gone.

The next morning I walked over to East Oval Lake and scoped out possible approaches to Oval Peak - but decided against it. Got back to camp & packed up. I thought I could lose the bugs back at the saddle but no. I headed east to the ridge between Grey & Courtney (crossing a small snowfield). I then headed west up to Grey Peak. It was starting to cloud up but still very pleasant to be on top of at 8080 ft peak. Someone put a register up there.

I headed down to Oval Pass and on the way down to Tuckaway Lake it started to rain a bit. I found a nice big Tamarack to wait out the downpour. I then headed up the ridge above Tuckaway as I heard there is a trail along the ridge to Eagle Pass. I would seem that I would "cliff out" but sure enough there is a narrow knife edge (dagger?) trail that leads down to the ridge. It was a bit too much exposure for my taste with my old-fashioned external framed backpack on but I took it nice & slow. I felt more comfortable putting my hiking poles in one hand and leaving my other hand free for holding on to the cliffs in a couple places. The ridge quickly got wider and more comfortable. Soon I was at Eagle Pass.

I hung out at Eagle Pass & surrounding meadows for a bit and thought of spending the night (melting snow for water). After a couple booms of thunder, I decided my gear was not adequate for the potential downpours that could occur (like they did a couple nights previously). I headed down the Eagle Creek trail and sure enough it did start raining for a short while. With a brief stop at Silver Lake, I continued on back to meet up with the trail that I came in on. I got back to the TH and 30 minutes later it started pouring.
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Eagle Creek — Jun 14, 2009 — nickz
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Water on trail | Snow on trail
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We had a late start on the trail, but no matter - we were the only car at the trailhead and the the ...
We had a late start on the trail, but no matter - we were the only car at the trailhead and the the solstice was near. The hike goes through some nice forest for the first two miles to the junction with the Oval Lake trail (410B). There were two stream fords (one before, one after the junction) - both, however were knee-length at highest and easily crossed, sans boots. After the junction, the trail remains in not-so-scenic forest. About 2 1/2 miles from the junction, though, you hit the first "meadow" (avalanche chute, really). This is where we camped, since we saw a big snow drift there and were afraid that the trail would be covered after that point. The next day we continued on the trail and saw little to no snow until about 1 1/2 miles (about 6500') after the Silver Lake Junction . The Lake itself is pretty unspectacular, but there are flat sites there. The trail opens up quite a bit after that first meadow, so be patient through the unspectacular forest after the junction. We lost the trail due to snow in the upper Eagle Creek basin near the approach to Eagle Pass. We scrambled up Snowshoe Ridge (east and west-facing ridges were clear) to get a fantastic view of the basin, as well as the War Creek drainage. The pass looked like it would not melt out for another two weeks, at least. After one more night, we headed down to the car - still not a soul in sight.

Overall, a very nice early season hike, even if we didn't get high enough to see Lake Chelan (probably could have scrambled up Battle Peak, if we were feeling adventurous). Wildflowers were starting to bloom, it was too early for bugs, the wildlife was good (Mule deer, marmots) and the solitude couldn't be beat.
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eagle creek basin nick.jpg
Eagle Creek Basin. Photo by Nick Z.
WTA worked here!
Eagle Creek (#410)
North Cascades -- East Slope
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest - Methow Valley Ranger District

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