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Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I.1 - White Pass - Chinook Pass

Twenty-eight miles of very scenic hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. This hike was written up in the Mountaineers Book: Best of the Pacific Crest Trail Washington, Hike #24 (now out of print). This is a great intro to backpacking hike: Four days, 7 to 8 miles per day of “relatively” flat backpack packing. The trail is well marked, there are abundant camp sites and many stopping points along the way. This is a two-car hike; drop one car at Chinook Pass, drive approximately 45 minutes to White Pass and start hiking from there.

It is strongly recommended that you go South to North for the following reasons:
1: The scenery unfolds and becomes more spectacular each day. Initially wildflower meadows, bug ponds and small lakes evolve into beautiful crest vistas of the Goat Rocks, Mount St. Helens and Mt Rainer. Going southbound will have you wanting the car as opposed to enjoying the last day’s majestic views.
2: The sun won’t be in your eyes.
3: The climbs, such as there are, are on Day 3 and Day 4.

Here are the camp choices:
Day1: White Pass to Sand Lake 3mi or Pipe Lake 7.5mi, Buesch Lake is at 6mi and recommended in the trail book, but we found the bugs intolerable. Your pick depending on starting time.
Day 2: Fish Lake or Crag Lake
Day 3: American Lake or Cougar Lake
Day 4: Out via Dewey Lake, to Chinook Pass
Driving Directions:

The White Pass trail head is found approximately .5 east of the White Pass Ski area on State RT 12. The trail head is not well marked on the highway. The only sign we saw that indicated the turn was a brown horse sign. The trail head is between Leach Lake and the Horse camp.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 23 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I.1 - White Pass - Chinook Pass — Oct 18, 2013 — MB_PNW
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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I hiked this very short section from the parking area to Goat Lake. There was up to a foot of snow i...
I hiked this very short section from the parking area to Goat Lake. There was up to a foot of snow in sections, but it hadn't melted enough to get really icy, therefore the footing was reasonable secure. As long as this dry weather holds, the trail is still easy to follow.
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Dog Lake to Cramer Lake (Trail 1106), Dumbbell Lake, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I.1 - White Pass - Chinook Pass, Dark Meadows — Sep 21, 2013 — kgold
Overnight
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Mudholes | Water on trail
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Hiking with some less experienced backpacking friends and their two dogs. This was a perfect overnig...
Hiking with some less experienced backpacking friends and their two dogs. This was a perfect overnight loop as it doesn't gain too much elevation and the trail is 99% clear and easy to follow.
Got to Cramer lake trail head at Dog lake around noon. Set out and got to Cramer lake around 2pm for a late lunch. Trail was clear. There is a small stream crossing that was easily traversed on fallen logs after about the first mile. Slight elevation gain through lovely forest with tons of mushrooms. We were a little too late for the boletes which were mostly eaten by worms. A week earlier and we would have had a basket of mushrooms in the first few miles. We ran into two people on horses on Cramer lake trail and a lot of horse evidence. The foliage is starting to change and the colors this week will be beautiful. Arrived at Dumbell lake probably around 4pm and chose a campsite on the peninsula in the center of the lake. We shared this bit of land with a group of fishermen that had rode in on horses, a very friendly bunch. The sunset was lovely and we heard lots of elk noises around dusk.
We lucked out with weather the first day, the second day not so much. We woke to cold rain, packed up and got moving to get warm. We headed west on #1156/56 until it met up with the PCT. This area is just beautiful; the mist and clouds through the trees, meadows, marshes, and lakes were just magical. The trail was fairly muddy with a lot of water in the rain, and the horses that road out ahead of us didn't really help. We left the campsite at about 10 am, giving the horse group a head start. We took the Dark Meadows #1106 connector from the PCT back to Dog lake. We did encounter some angry yellow jackets in this portion even in the cold, steady rain. This helped quicken the pace back to the car.
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Cramer Lake, Dog Lake to Cramer Lake (Trail 1106), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I.1 - White Pass - Chinook Pass, Sand Lake, Dumbbell Lake — Jul 06, 2013 — OneHikeAWeek
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Bridge out | Mudholes | Bugs
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My sister and I attempted to create a loop hike, starting on the PCT(#2000) at White Pass. We follow...
My sister and I attempted to create a loop hike, starting on the PCT(#2000) at White Pass. We followed #2000 to Sand lake and on to Buesch lake then followed Dumbbell (#1156) to Dumbbell Lake. Cramer lake (#1106) ultimately brought us to Dog Lake, several miles from our intended destination, the car. But since neither of us had seen the Dark Meadows trail that should have taken us back to #2000, we decided to hike back to the car following the road. All said and done, our gps put us just under 16 miles, which accounted for some exploration too.

At this time there was no more snow on the trail, just some very full lakes! This also meant that there were lots of little ponds and marshy areas, and TONS of blood sucking little devils! They weren't too bad by sand lake but they became more apparent by Buesch and Dumbbell Lakes, and from then on they were horrid. The two of us used an entire bottle of deep woods bug repellant and they were so dense in places that we didn't want to open our mouths for fear that they would fly into our mouths. If I were to redo this hike I would turn around at dumbbell lake and return the way we came in. After Dumbbell Lake there was no great scenery or lakes, just a lot of mosquitoes to run from.

There were a few blow-downs on the latter portion of our hike, and also a creek that had no bridge. We took our boots off to wade across and within seconds had mosquitoes swarming about out feet.

It was a very do-able day hike that took us about 5 hours. Best advice: don't go without bug spray! The lakes were gorgeous and worth the hike. It would be fun to go swimming in them too!

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Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I.1 - White Pass - Chinook Pass, Goat Peak Snowshoe, American Ridge — Oct 07, 2012 — J. R. Turtle
Overnight
Features: Fall foliage
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Ascended Goat Peak Trail from Hwy 410. I've hiked it a couple of times before and remembered it as a...
Ascended Goat Peak Trail from Hwy 410. I've hiked it a couple of times before and remembered it as a steep but quick climb. This time with a 35-40 pound pack, it was steep and slow. Absolutely clear skies in spite of fires. I could see plumes of smoke from fires in the Kettle Creek drainage. From Goat Peak I headed west on American Ridge. Tough trail, up and down. Dry. In places the trail disappeared. I completely lost the trail on the west side of Kettle Creek basin. I was off trail (unintentionally) from there to the ridge heading west at the bottom of the north-south ridge above Big Basin. From the Mestachee Trailhead to the PCT the trail was well-traveled and obvious. It was a great hike--about 20 hours total hiking time including scrambling steep hillsides looking for the trail.
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Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I.1 - White Pass - Chinook Pass, Three Lakes — Aug 19, 2012 — trailmarker
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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This hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail from Chinook Pass 10.5 miles to a junction with...
           This hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail from Chinook Pass 10.5 miles to a junction with the Laughingwater Creek/Three Lakes Trail. You then drop off the crest past Three Lakes and out to Highway 123 for a total of 18 miles. It is really a relatively easy day, with only 1500' of elevation gain. The trail is in good to excellent condition. Obviously two cars are required for this trip. Now, with the dry details out of the way...
           This is a spectacular hike. Pick up the PCT at Chinook Pass and head south,contouring around lovely Naches Peak. The flowers, mostly lupine, begin here and only get better as you go on. Before you know it, you arrive at a split in the trail, with the PCT going left and the Naches Peak Loop continuing right.
            Now the PCT drops shortly to Dewey Lakes. As you near the lakeshore, watch carefully for the only unmarked junction of the entire trip. Bear to your right and round the lake counterclockwise. When you reach the far shore, you will find both a beautiful view back across the lake, and a trail sign confirming you are indeed on the correct path.
            The trail climbs out of the lake basin and begins to wind around Seymour Peak. At this point...
            Well, from here on my report is spotty, because there is so much to see I took little notice of the trail itself. I can say that at 5 miles or so the path opens onto Anderson Lake, a very pretty rest stop or turnaround point if you have only one car. I can also report, as you climb away from Anderson, Rainier joins you and rarely strays from your side until you leave the PCT.
            Other than that, I have only general impressions of innumerable basins laced with craggy rocks and meadows of lupine spotted with red paintbrush. This is a hike combining sweeping vistas and detailed, close-in portraits. Your head will spin!
            Once I turned down the Laughingwater Creek trail, my ability to recollect returned. Between Three Lakes and the highway is a peaceful walk through old growth which I detailed in a report earlier this month. This time, though, my spirit remained on the ridgetop long after I reached the car and for days after. Who knows, the autumn colors may draw me back very soon.
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PCT section I shadowdad.JPG
Views along this section of the PCT. Photo by Shadowdad.
WTA worked here!
2013
Location
Pacific Crest Trail (#2000)
South Cascades -- White Pass / Cowlitz River Valley
Statistics
Roundtrip 28.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2200 ft
Features
Lakes
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
Guidebooks & Maps
Mountaineers Books: Best of the Pacific Crest Trail Washington, Hike #24 (out of print)
White Pass
Bumping Lake

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