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Hardscrabble Creek

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There are 9 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Falls Creek, Hardscrabble Creek, Ingalls Creek, Beverly Turnpike, County Line — Sep 13, 2013 — wanderdoc
Multi-night backpack
Issues: Blowdowns | Mud/Rockslide
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I've always been intrigued by the sub title in the Spring/Manning Alpine Lakes guide for the County ...
I've always been intrigued by the sub title in the Spring/Manning Alpine Lakes guide for the County Line Trail, "Forgotten Trail Of The Wenatchee Mountains". So I planned a five day trip incorporating it into a loop involving Ingalls Creek, anticipating a challenging search in the wilderness for remnants of an abandoned trail. Unfortunately, the trip was shortened to 3 days because of time constraints, but was still a great experience.

We began by ascending Ingalls Creek #1215. The first 5.5 miles to the Falls Creek junction are in great condition and the constant proximity of the creek made for a pleasant walk. After that, we passed through an area that had recently burned. The trail was quite brushy, but never difficult to follow. Now the creek was mostly out of sight. We never saw the junction for the Cascade Creek Trail and there was a sign for the Hardscrabble Creek Trail, but no visible path. After a long hot day, we made it to the Beverly Turnpike Trail #1391 and just past the junction found a delightful, but rather small campsite at the edge of a large grassy meadow with great views. The site was rather cramped for 3 small tents, but it was a delightful place to spend the night.

The next day we ascended the Beverly Turnpike Trail over the saddle to the junction with the Fourth Creek Trail #1218. We followed that to the junction with the Hardscrabble Creek Trail and turned right. This next section provided us with spectacular views of Mt Stuart. The trail is in great shape and we passed a great campsite in a meadow. After the steep climb over the saddle, we found the junction with the County Line Trail #1226, well marked with a couple of huge cairns. The "forgotten" trail turned out not to be so forgotten after all. It is definitely being used by both people and horses. There was almost always visible tread and there we're lots of cairns. There we're a few places where we had to look around to see which way the trail was headed, but we never actually lost the trail. The ascent of the ridge that separates Hardscrabble from Cascade Creek was incredibly steep. We followed footprints up the soft sandy slope. It looked like there may once have been switchbacks in the forest to our left, but it didn't appear that anyone was going that way anymore. We we're exhausted when we finally reached the top, but we could see our goal, Navaho Pass, below us. We passed a small stream on the way down, so we we're able to camp right on the pass knowing that water was nearby.

Our last day, we continued on the County Line Trail, on the side of Navaho Peak. Again, following the trail was never an issue. When we reached the junction with the Falls Creek Trail #1216, we thought we would be descending on a "maintained" trail and that the most challenging part of the trip was now behind us. No way!!! Within a few minutes we lost the trail and descended several hundred feet before finding it again. The we came to a section where the trail was buried by a large avalanche. The IPhone with the Green Tails App saved us a lot of time. There was lots of blowdown and we lost the trail every time it entered a meadow. But the crown jewel of our difficulties came at around 4400'. After descending treacherous, washed out switchbacks on a steep slope, we crossed a creek, climbed a short hill and stood atop a 20 foot vertical drop looking down into a deep gully carved by the raging waters of Falls Creek. There was a cairn, but we at first couldn't accept that we would somehow have to go down at this point. So we spent some time following the creek in both directions, looking for a better place to descend. But this was definitely the best spot. We lowered our packs and we're able to climb down without any problems by stepping onto a root and then a large rock below it. I'm not sure that we would have been able to climb up this slope if we had been coming from the opposite direction. We finally reached Ingalls Creek, where we took a much needed lunch break before hiking out to the trailhead.
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Ingalls Creek, Fourth Creek, Hardscrabble Creek — Jul 04, 2013 — W&T
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Water on trail
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Summary: Ingalls Creek and fourth creek trail were in good shape and mostly clear. Hardscrabble cree...
Summary: Ingalls Creek and fourth creek trail were in good shape and mostly clear. Hardscrabble creek was in terrible shape and nonexistent in most cases, we would strongly warn against hiking it until it is cleared.

We started our hike around noon on July 4th at the Hwy 97 side of Ingalls Creek. Not too many cars in the parking lot and we only saw a few groups all day, surprising for the long weekend.

Ingalls Creek has a few overgrown portions but the trail was easy to follow. Long pants might be a good idea to not scratch up your legs. There were reports of rattle snakes on the trail and we did encounter one a few miles in right next to the trail. We gave it some space and made our way past carefully.

We camped along the creek about 7 miles in. The campsites were great and no mosquitoes.

The next morning we hiked to the fourth creek turnoff. Crossing Ingalls creek involved a very cold ford that was about calf deep. Not too hard with sandals on and using trekking poles. The rest of the hike was pleasant with some great views of the Stuart Range and mt Stuart.

We got confused about a mile after the top of fourth creek trail when the trail died off and then picked up at switchbacks up a steep gravel hillside. After some map research we decided it was the way to go and were correct. The trail crests the ridge line and has views of the hardscrabble creek drainage which you would take back down to Ingalls creek.

This is where the trail got messy. The trail was marked with cairns and not too hard to follow starting down. The turnoff down hardscrabble creek was poorly signed and we hiked past it for a good distance following cairns before deciding we were wrong and turned around to search for the turnoff. When we found it and headed back down to Ingalls creek the real challenges began. The cairns disappeared and the trail did as well. We bushwhacked down the drainage for miles seeing only brief glimpses of the trail and cairns. We were lucky to find a clear flat spot by hardscrabble creek to camp and try for more the next day. The next morning was worse, we only saw a trail a few times for the final mile or two until Ingalls creek. This section was terrible and hiking through dense brush and downed trees, our direction was only clear as downhill and towards the stuart mountain range. Finally getting to Ingalls creek we were lucky to have a fallen log to cross, the creek was much deeper here than at the fourth creek crossing. After crossing the creek we bushwhacked for a few hundred more feet and stumbled on the Ingalls creek trail. Finally! We hiked 5-10 minutes on the trail and found the 'official' hardscrabble creek turnoff where no trail was visible at all, which is a good warning to anyone wanting to start out.

Hardscrabble Creek was marked as a 'regular hiking' trail on our National Geographic maps which is not accurate at this time.
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Hardscrabble Creek — Jul 07, 2010 — justalittlefarther
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Washouts
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Hardscrabble Creek is true to its name. The trail is a gauntlet of roots, rocks, and vegetation, if ...
Hardscrabble Creek is true to its name. The trail is a gauntlet of roots, rocks, and vegetation, if you can even locate the trail at all. After leading you on a wild goose chase over the creek and through the thick vegetation, its unmaintained tread climbs mercilessly through a burned forest. However, with enough patience and skill, you will find yourself taking in views of a fantastic multi-tiered waterfall.

Hardscrabble Creek Trail begins at its confluence with Ingalls Creek Trail at around 8.8 miles. My group did this as a side trip on our 6 day backpacking trip on Ingalls Creek. The trail is well signed at the junction, and begins immediately with a ford of Ingalls Creek. You can either ford through thigh deep water at the trail, however I wandered downstream to a log jam to cross. Good balance is required, as the log crossing the creek bounces excessively. This crossing leads you to a gorgeous granite sand beach, which in itself is a fine destination, however if you head upstream further a brushy trail will lead you to a nice campsite along the Hardscrabble Trail. Use your tracking skills to find the trail, which soon makes its way to the banks of the creek where it is marked with a dilapidated trail sign.

From here you must make another ford, however the possibility exists for rock hopping or a log jam crossing upstream. After you cross the creek, the trail disappears into the matted underbrush. I found it by pushing back the plants with my trekking poles, however the trail is nothing more than a rooted rocky trench. If you can't find it, just stay close to the creek. The trail follows a slight divide between an old dry creek bed and Hardscrabble Creek. It eventually crosses back to the right of the dry stream bed (marked by a cairn) and begins switchbacking up the slope.

The trail is much more evident after this point, but without work it too will be gone within the next couple years. After just a few minutes of climbing you will reach the first falls. While there is a decent view, both the first and second falls are encased by steep canyon walls. However, walk just a few minutes farther and the third fall will come into view, which can be reached by scrambling down the steep slopes. Keep an eye out for an unusual white to yellow flower (see picture), which grows along the slopes near the waterfalls. I am pretty good with wildflowers, but I couldn't find this one in any of my books. I sat for a while in the mist, then continued to the top of a knoll above the falls. From there the trail drops down to the creek, and I turned around for the day. All in all, around a 1.5 mile round trip, and a nice excuse to drop my heavy pack for a while. Take advantage of hiking to these falls while there is still a "trail", or wait longer and experience even more solitude. Also, this may be a decent place to pick huckleberries in a few years, as new bushes were establishing themselves in the burned area. Happy hiking!
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Hardscrabble Creek #1218 — Sep 03, 2005 — Grey bird
Day hike
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An update to the prior report on Hardscrabble Creek. The route has been almost been completely brus...

An update to the prior report on Hardscrabble Creek. The route has been almost been completely brushed out until a sketchy section just below lower Hardscrabble Lake. There is no need to hop into the stream bed or other cross country machette exercises as this is becoming a real trail.

Drive 12 grueling miles (leave the old Escort home!!) up the Dingford Creek Road and park just past the huge downed hemlock. The unsigned trail begins above the parking spot so do not retreat down the road for the old spur road start. The trek follows old road bed on a traverse towards Hardscrabble Creek and then parallels the creek within ear shot before reaching a cairn marked boulderfield. After a total gain of 1000 feet, the boulders cease and some minor brushy route finding will suffice for a final 200 feet to the lower lake.

As bounty for our venture, we enjoyed blueberry crepes the next morning. Most delicious.

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Hardscrabble Creek #1218,Big Snow mtn — Aug 02, 2005 — Tardigrade
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Washouts | Water on trail | Overgrown | Bugs
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My trip was somewhat of a failure as I only made it to the ridge past the upper hardscrabble lake. ...

My trip was somewhat of a failure as I only made it to the ridge past the upper hardscrabble lake. Getting there is easy. Just take the exit for 468th AVE SE off I-90 and turn north. Its the exit with all the trucker stuff. then just get on the middle fork road. I only got my car exactly one mile past digford creek at 10.30. that's road is horrible past dingford. I wish I would have had my mountain bike with me. It would be much faster. I walked the road to hardscrabble and got to the trailhead at around 12.30. That was awfully late to be starting. The trail is nice. Overgrown and hard to find in places but the route is straight forward. I completely lost the trail for about 25% of the hike up. On the way down I realized It was about 20 feet to my right. When I got to upper hardscrabble I just kept walking straight till I hit the ridge. I made it to the high point of the ridge at 4.00 and decided to turn around so I wouldn't have to drive on that road in the dark. It would probably have taken another hour to reach the top. I found the trail almost the whole way down and got back to the trailhead at 6.00. I ran most of the way back to the car (5 miles im guessing) and got there at 7.00. If you car about your car at all or don't have more than 8 in of clearance take a bike or take the dingford creek route. car to car: 8.5 hours trailhead to trailhead: 5.5 to 6 hours.

Top picture is the huge log just before the trailhead.

Bottom pic is a view spoiler. Don't look if you dont want to know. It only does it about half justice because my camera doesn't pick up half the mountains.

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Hardscrabble Creek (#1218)
Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area

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