4th of July Creek
Hike of the Week:
June 2, 2008
Location: near Leavenworth
Distance: 10.6 miles
Elevation: 4800 ft to 7000 ft.
Map: Green Trails #177 Chiwaukum Mountains
For hikers who seek late spring ridge top views and significant elevation gains, this hike is designed for you. Switchbacking up a steep southwest-facing slope, the Fourth of July Creek trail will test your lung power while giving you ample reason to take lots of breaks and enjoy the constant views of the Icicle Valley and Mt. Stuart.
In June, the lower portion of the trail should be ablaze with wildflowers. And because of its exposure to the sun, the snow line should be higher than most other locations in the Cascades. Do expect some well-packed snow on top as you approach the Icicle Ridge Trail, but it is reported to be melting quickly.
The trail begins in an open woodland and soon gets to business. There are many, many switchbacks and fewer and fewer trees as you climb. On a sunny day it is HOT! And the trail is dry, except for a seasonal spring at 5400 feet. Don't count on water there - bring plenty in your backpack. (Also, watch out for snakes.)
Not everyone makes it to the top, but those who stop short will still be treated to great flowers and views. Attaining the ridge, however, is a real treat with nearly 360 degree views of the Stuart Range, Icicle Creek, Tumwater Canyon and even the Columbia Plateau. You can hike to the old lookout and even make the trip into a backpack by taking the Icicle Ridge trail west.
Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee River District (509) 548-6977 - they should be able to inform you of where the snow line is. Guidebook: 55 Hikes around Stevens Pass by Rick McGuire & Ira Spring (Mountaineers Books). Check out the WTA Hiking Guide and Trip Reports for more information on Fourth of July Creek.
From Hwy 2 west of Leavenworth, drive south on the Icicle Creek road 9.4 miles to the small (but paved!) trailhead parking area on the right side of the road.