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Scatter Creek

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This route explores a seldom-visited creek valley on the flank of the Wenatchee Mountains. The trail ascends through steeply sloped meadows into a broad wildflower basin at the head of the valley and eventually leads to a high pass on the ridge, affording awesome views of both the Cle Elum River valley and east into the Icicle Creek drainage.

The trail leaves the road and climbs gradually through thin forest to start up the slope on the south side of Scatter Creek. For the next 2 miles the trail climbs 1500 feet through gentle switchbacks. The pine and fir forest is brightened by flower-filled glades--the bulbous beargrass blooms, sitting atop their tall stalks, are particularly noteworthy early in the summer.

At 2.3 miles find a trail intersection. To the right is the County Line Trail. Stay left instead, continuing up the Scatter Creek valley, and in 0.5 mile cross the creek. Once across the creek, the meadows slowly spread out until you're hiking in a rolling field of native grasses and wildflowers. The lightly used trail can be overgrown and brushy in places, but generally is easy to follow as it sticks close to Scatter Creek and hooks southeast into the basin at the head of the creek valley.

You could stop anywhere along here for a picturesque picnic site, with views out into the Cle Elum Valley--Goat Mountain can be seen on the far side of the valley--and flowers stretching out under your feet. If you want more exercise, continue up the trail as it climbs the steep wall at the head of the valley, reaching the crest of the Wenatchee Ridge at Scatter Creek Pass, about 4.5 miles from the trailhead.
Driving Directions:

From Seattle drive east on I-90 to take exit 80 (signed "Roslyn/Salmon la Sac"). Head north on Salmon la Sac Road (State Route 903) about 15 miles, passing through Roslyn and past Cle Elum Lake to Salmon la Sac. Go right at the Y to stay on the main road (rather than entering the campground), and continue up the Cle Elum Valley Road (FS 4330) another 9.5 scenic miles through beautiful meadows to the trailhead on the right, just before the concrete-lined vehicle ford at Scatter Creek.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 21 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Trail Creek, Scatter Creek, Fortune Creek-Van Epps, Lake Ingalls, Jack Creek, Trout Lake, Windy Pass, Enchantment Lakes, Icicle Ridge, Chain Lakes, Icicle Creek, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section J - Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass - East, Commonwealth Basin, Red Pass, Middle Fork Snoqualmie River: Upstream, Dutch Miller Gap — Sep 08, 2013 — Sir-Hikes-A-Lot
Multi-night backpack
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown
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One thing I love to do is create longer hikes in Washington’s wilderness areas and national parks....
One thing I love to do is create longer hikes in Washington’s wilderness areas and national parks. This year I chose to create a route through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The criteria for this hike was that it would start at a very accessible trailhead, would be a loop hike, would use established trail only, and have very few overlapping miles, if any. By not overlapping miles I did have to leave out some areas, but I think this route covers an awful lot of beauty and has good flow.

I also set it up so that Leavenworth is essentially half way through this route, which makes it great for resupply or a day off.

Starting at the PCT trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass, the exact route is as follows:

Hiking to Commonwealth Basin, up to Red Pass, down to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, up to Dutch Miller Gap, down to Waptus Lake, to Trail Creek, to the Deep Lake TH, walking Forest Service Road 4330 to the Scatter Creek TH, up to Van Epps Pass, past Lake Ann and down the Esmeralda Basin trail, up to Ingalls Lake and Stuart Pass, down Jack Creek, up to Trout Lake, up to Windy Pass, down past the Caroline Lakes to the Eightmile TH, up through the Enchantments to the Snow Lakes TH, to the Icicle Ridge TH, hiking the length of the Icicle Ridge Trail to Frosty Pass, to Doelle and Chain Lakes, down to Icicle Creek, up to Lake Josephine, then connecting with and hiking south along the PCT, back to Snoqualmie Pass.

I call this loop the “Alpine Lakes Wilderness Grand Traverse” and it comes in at roughly 204 miles, plus it only overlaps for roughly 1 mile (at the north end of Waptus Lake), if using the alternate entrance to Commonwealth Basin.

9/1 - PCT TH to ~ 1.5 miles before the Cathedral Pass Trail junction (on Trail Creek)

From the PCT TH to Red Pass there are ~ 7 downed trees, a couple are large. Some slight brush issues on the first part of the Commonwealth Basin Trail (alternate), but overall this stretch to Red Pass is in good shape.

The route from Red Pass that heads down to the Middle Fork and Goldmyer starts off as a very steep descent that is very narrow and eroded, with some looseness. After a couple hundred feet the trail mellows and becomes more gradual. There are ~ 18 downed trees to the Middle Fork/Goldmyer, with a couple that are large. Once reaching tree-line it’s off and on brushy to the Middle Fork/Goldmeyer, with some occasional steep and eroded trail. No navigation issues and there is some amazing old-growth on the way down.

From Goldmyer to the Dutch Miller TH, except for 1 downed tree, the trail is immaculate.

From the Dutch Miller TH to Lake Ivanhoe the trail is in perfect shape. A big thanks to the recent trail crew!

From Ivanhoe to the Waptus River trail junction the trail is in pretty good shape with ~ 3 downed trees. Some slight brush issues with the occasional rocky section.

From the Waptus River trail junction to the Trail Cr ford the trail is perfect. The Waptus River ford was only 12” deep and quite warm when I went through and the Waptus ford at the Trail Cr trail junction was only 18” and still nice & toasty.

The Trail Cr Trail was actually in much better shape than I expected…there are ~ 8 downed trees to the Cathedral Pass trail junction and is only occasionally brushy. Thanks to whoever has done the recent work!

9/2 - ~ 1.5 miles before the Cathedral Pass Trail junction to the Meadow Cr Trail junction (on Jack Cr)

There are no issues on the Cathedral Pass Trail and FSR 4330 is always a pleasant early morning walk.

The Scatter Cr Trail is in pretty good shape with a few downed trees to the County Line trail junction (trail 1226.2). Once on the County Line Trail there are ~ 25 downed trees to Van-Epps Pass. The County Line Trail is the first time there are navigation issues on this trip. The worst spot is when you drop down into a meadow at N Fork Fortune Cr, but there are at least three or four other spots where route finding will be difficult…route finding skills are advised. There are plenty of overgrown spots on this section with some steep trail.

At Van-Epps Pass you hit a road and the route continues on the road to the right. You’ll quickly come to a road split and you want to take the left fork, followed by a right fork, followed by a final split, where you’ll go left back onto trail.

From Van-Epps Pass to the Lake Ingalls trail junction the route is in good shape. It is a bit steep and rocky at times coming down from Lake Ann and a bit rocky on the Esmeralda Trail.

The Ingalls Lake Trail is in good shape. The final .25 miles to the pass is a bit steep and rocky and continuing on to the lake is absolutely worth it, but a bit rough in places. Definitely steep, rocky, and it almost feels like a baby scramble.

I actually found the route from Lake Ingalls to Stuart Pass to be very straight forward…it was well defined trail for most of the way. The best approach is to make your way around the west side of the lake and then take the first trail on the left. Once on the trail I found it well marked enough to follow to the pass. Worst case, you can see where the trail cuts up to the pass from Lake Ingalls, so if you get off course it’s easy to see where you should be. The trail does have some steepness to it.

From Stuart Pass (down Jack Cr) to the Meadow Cr trail junction there are ~ 20 downed trees. Some brush issues off and on the whole way down. Overall in pretty good shape…someone’s been through recently and has done a lot of work…thanks!

9/3 - Meadow Cr Trail junction to the Snow Lakes TH

From the Jack Ridge trail junction to Trout Lake the route is severely overgrown, with ~ 95 downed trees. Many trees are large and expect to exude some energy on these 3.5 miles. Some trail erosion issues as well.

From Trout Lake to Windy Pass there are ~ 15 downed trees. It’s very steep at times and quite overgrown below tree-line.
From Windy Pass to the Eightmile Lake TH there are no real issues. The only negative is you are in a burn from Lake Caroline almost all the way to the TH…I was thankful to be going down.

There’s not much to say about the route through the Enchantments…it’s in prime shape for what it is…steep, rocky, grueling, long, but worth every ounce of energy used to experience this magical place. There are no issues with snow at this point.

9/4 - Zero day in Leavenworth/re-supply

Copious food consumption was enjoyed.

9/5 - Leavenworth to just west of Frosty Pass

Walking the ~ 1.5 miles to the Icicle Ridge TH is quite pleasant if done early.

From the Icicle Ridge TH to the old lookout site (just beyond Fourth of July Cr) the trail is in pretty good shape. No blow-downs and there are some brush issues, but it’s not horrible.

The next ~ 7.5 miles to the Hatchery Cr trail junction the route becomes difficult and route finding skills are advised. There are a lot of overgrown sections on this stretch with some steep, eroded, and rough trail. Plenty of spots where you’ll think game trails are the route. When approaching Cabin Cr you enter a burn to help the confusion and there are plenty of down trees. I will say that once across Cabin Cr and back on the ridge the way becomes much easier.

From the Hatchery Cr trail junction to the Chatter Cr trail junction the route is in decent shape. There is definitely some steep trail with occasional erosion issues. Any time you drop elevation and are in the trees the route is quite brushy. No real navigation issues.

From the Chatter Cr trail junction to Frosty Pass the trail is in great shape.

9/6 - Just west of Frosty Pass to ~ 2 miles north of Cathedral Pass

The trail to Doelle and Chain Lakes used to be a rougher go, but it’s becoming so popular it’s now nice trail for a lot of the way. Navigation should be fine for most and the only real issues are it’s occasionally overgrown, steep in places, and rocky in places. It might take some a second look to figure out how to get around the lakes, but it’s not a big deal.

The trail up to the pass that drops you to Chain Lakes is in good shape and the trail down to Chain Lakes is a bit rocky but good.

Heading down to the Icicle Cr Trail, the route is in good shape…brushy in spots, but not bad.

The Icicle Cr Trail has been cleared up to the PCT and is in real good shape.

Once on the PCT, the trail is in great shape to Deception Pass.

From Deception Pass to Cathedral Pass there are ~ 15 downed trees. There is one spot of rough trail but it’s not too bad. The three creek crossings below Mt Daniel can all be crossed on rocks and logs, but most were fording the middle crossing which is always the worst of the three…the ford didn’t seem too difficult if you aren’t comfortable using the rocks and logs, but a couple of heavy thunder storms could change that.

9/7 - ~ 2 miles north of Cathedral Pass to the PCT TH

I ran into a WTA trail crew that had just finished their stint at Deep Lake…thanks for the excellent job! Thanks to the woman in the back who when I asked “how are you today,” replied, “I was okay until I put this pack on.” Something about how you said that made me chuckle and put a smile on my face for the next hour…thanks!

From Deep Lake to Waptus Lake there are some slight brush issues, but overall the trail’s in good shape.

From Waptus Lake to the Lemah Cr there are 15-20 downed trees. There are quite a few brushy spots, especially coming up to Escondido Ridge. The south Lemah Cr Bridge is out…there is a log downstream, but otherwise it’s a ford.

From Lemah Cr to the PCT TH, the route is in great shape. There are some baby brush issues before Spectacle Lake and it’s very rocky from Chikamin Pass to Ridge Lake.

This was a magical trip despite the weather and it’s nice to know that large pockets of solitude still exist in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

If interested, I’ve created a YouTube video and it can be seen at: http://youtu.be/3s-u-Xm8JzE

Cheers!
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Scatter Creek, North Scatter Creek — Sep 03, 2011 — C-Nolan
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
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This trip was amazing. Me and my dad were looking for a good labor day weekend hike. We ended up tak...
This trip was amazing. Me and my dad were looking for a good labor day weekend hike. We ended up taking the wrong trail but was by far a great mistake. To get to the original hike we were going to do (S. Scatter Creek) you go before the concrete road that water passes through, but we took the one past it which isn't actually on any maps but did say Scatter Creek on it. When we first started it we both were feeling good with a breakfast of cheesy pretzels and iced tea. A little ways in though we realized what we read on this site was not to be true. It was not gradual switchbacks but very difficult path straight up. We stopped a little past a sign near the top that said "alpine lakes" for lunch. We were both stopping every few steps to catch our breath. Once we finished lunch we realized that it actually was a false top and continued up, at about 2.5 miles of hiking uphill we were taken aback at the sudden change in terrain. It was flat and meadowy.
The flowers were blooming and not to long in found a small stream. We both stopped to fill our waters and put the iodine in. We let them sit as we looked around. This would have been a great campsite and actually already had a fire ring there. Although when the tablets had dissolved we decided to continue through the meadows keeping that place in mind. The trail started to climb again still in the meadow/valley type area. Note: there are some great rocks to go (a little) off path (still in sight of the trail) and look at the amazing view along the way. We then climbed up and up (lost the trail for about 5 minutes but quickly found it) and found to our surprise, snow! At the top of the meadow area was a small valley cove with a big snow collection. Both my dad and I threw off our heavy packs and ran over to jump on. We both took pictures and then continued on.
Only a few steps on and we found what would turn out being our campsite. A sign marked "N. Scatter creek -> Meadow creek <-" We walked down the hill where we also saw snow by the ridge and saw amazing views. We took off our packs and started to put out the tent. This was an amazing spot for views and could see for miles and miles. We climbed up a large orange rock where there was a little flat area and looked out. This is where we later on cooked our food and hung up our bag full of food to keep away from bears, chipmunks, and mountain goats. Then, we came down and just fooled around for a while, played frisbee (Yes, our campground was big enough and flat enough to play frisbee) Took a nap and then finally woke up and cooked dinner.
After a wonderful dinner of Steak and mushrooms we made each a cup of coffee and then packed the stove away and put the bag up away from the bears. It was starting to get a little dark then and we climbed down and waited for it to become starry. Although it was getting darker it still was not really dark enough to see the stars so we went and played cards in the tent. About a half an hour later we went out and had a breathtaking view of the milky way and a bunch of shooting stars. The next morning we had breakfast and packed away. The trip down was steep and sliding. It was quite dusty and slippery. Hard work on the quads but made it down in about half the time it took us to get up. In the end a totally worth it hike even though how tough it is to get up. ALSO WE SAW NO ONE ELSE THE ENTIRE HIKE, IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A HIKE TO YOURSELF COME HERE.
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Scatter Creek — Aug 14, 2011 — ann
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Mudholes | Water on trail | Snow on trail | Bugs
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This lovely overgrown trail needs more hikers! We had it all to ourselves. The first 2 miles are eas...
This lovely overgrown trail needs more hikers! We had it all to ourselves. The first 2 miles are easy, then the trail nearly disappears repeatedly into fabulous marshy flower meadows. Avalanche debris also obscures the route in places. It takes longer than you'd think to hike the 8.4 miles, 2900', due to all the route finding, but its worth it! Another great thing about this trail is that the rainshadow kept us in the sun on a day when the west side was dreary.

Huckleberries and strawberries are ripe along salmon le sac road and lower part of trail.

average mosquitos, not too bothersome.

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Scatter Creek — Jul 22, 2011 — onehikeaweek
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Mudholes | Water on trail | Snow on trail | Bugs
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Flickr: http://bit.ly/solomon-mountain My hiking pattern for this week has been...starting late. ...
Flickr: http://bit.ly/solomon-mountain

My hiking pattern for this week has been...starting late. After spending some time in the Blewitt Pass area a couple of days ago, I was still not ready to get back into Teanaway. Today I ventured into west of Teanaway for Solomon Mountain. Solomon and Harding have been on the back of my mind for a while. I was hoping to do both today as a slam, but since I’ve been starting late this week, I had to forego Harding.

How could I forget how treacherous the road beyond Salmon La Sac was? It all came right back to me as I drove to the trailhead. I was the only one parked at the trailhead so it looked like another quiet day of hiking alone in the mountains. There were lots of blowdowns not long beyond the trailhead and all the way to the second creek crossing. A few snow patches at the head of the basin but they were melting fast. It took no time to get from the basin to the ridge, and from the ridge it was a class 2 scramble to the summit.

Harding Mountain looked closer to Solomon than Howard to Mastiff. I probably would have had enough time for Harding had I started my hike bright and early. The ridge between Solomon and Harding looked sketchy, not sure if it was possible to traverse that way.
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Scatter Creek — Jul 17, 2009 — Page
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown
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This was not our intended hike today, but our Toyota Camry couldn't make it across the Scatter Creek...
This was not our intended hike today, but our Toyota Camry couldn't make it across the Scatter Creek Ford on the way to the Cathedral Rock/Peggy's Pond hike we planned. So we backed up and parked across from this trailhead about 100 yds from the flooded ford.
The Green Trails map says it's 3.4 miles from the TH to the County Line trail, but the 100 Best Hikes in the Alpine Lakes puts it at 2 miles. We agree with Ira. We made it to the intersection of these two trails in about an hour including a few stops to water the dog.
And after the 2nd creek crossing, the trail disappears and we ended up wayfinding with our compass to find it again after getting off trail in the woods. And it seems like NO ONE has been up past the creek in a LONG time as the trail is not maintained and gets overtaken by the meadows (which were FULL of wildflowers and gorgeous today). So at the major blowdown I decided to sit and listen to a small creek and birds while Bill & Scout scampered ahead for 10 mins or so. We didn't make it to the pass and really didn't care. We got a gorgeous day, solitude, beautiful wildflowers, a bit of wayfinding (especially after I left Scout's leash behind off trail, on a rock in the woods and we had to retrace our tracks to find it!). Bill explored the County Line trail for 10 mins with Scout and said it was easy to follow. I headed back to the car and took some pics along the way. (Not posted here, cause the files are too big).
So, lots of bear scat in the meadows, some western tanagers to see, some song birds to hear. And no people. A perfect day in our hiking book all around.
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Scatter Creek by JustTheFacts.jpg
Scatter Creek by JustTheFacts
WTA worked here!
2010
Location
Scatter Creek (#1328)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Cle Elum Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 9.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2200 ft
Highest Point 5500 ft
Features
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Ridges/passes
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Stevens Pass No. 176

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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