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Cedar Falls - Cedar Creek

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Marvel at Cedar Creek careening down a series of rapids and crashing over a twin-tiered cataract into a deep narrow chasm. On a lightly traveled trail off of the busy North Cascades Highway, Cedar Falls makes an easy early or late-season jaunt. Cruise this way just after snowmelt and witness a deafening display of hydrologic force. Pretty wildflowers lining the trail help soften the trauma.

From the rather unattractive trailhead, head off into the woods on a wide and well-groomed path high above roaring Cedar Creek. Immediately come upon an unmarked junction with a primitive trail that goes right for 3.5 miles to Mudhole Lake, high on a shoulder of Silver Star Mountain. Climbing 3000 feet in 2 miles, it's a steep route. Continue straight on Trail No. 476, the more trodden and gentle path.

Soon pass through a gap in the forest that gives a glimpse north to Goat Peak and the cliffs below known as the Goat Wall. At 0.6 mile sneak a peek through the forest to across the creek valley and an impressive cascade tumbling down from Sandy Butte. At 1 mile the source of the continuous accompanying roar, Cedar Creek, can finally be seen as the trail gets closer to the crashing waterway.

Continue upvalley through groves of pine and fir. In spring, bouquets of yellow arnica and red paintbrush brighten the forest floor. As you head farther upvalley the forest canopy thins to reveal the steep slopes surrounding you.

At 1.75 miles, the sound of crashing water now intensely audible, you come to Cedar Falls. Thundering over granite ledges, the two-tiered cataract is an impressive sight. Above the falls a series of rapids prime the river for the plunge, while below a steep and narrow chasm swallows it after its turbulent display. Walk around to a couple of overhanging ledges for the best viewing, but be extremely careful on these exposed belvederes-this is no place for loose dogs or children.
Driving Directions:

From Marblemount follow the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) east for 70 miles to Klipchuck Campground. From Winthrop follow SR 20 west for 17 miles to the turnoff. Continue 0.25 mile from the turnoff, turning right onto Forest Road 200 (signed for Cedar Creek). Drive FR 200 for 1 mile to its terminus at a gravel pit and the trailhead (elev. 3000 ft). Privy available.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 26 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Cedar Falls - Cedar Creek — Dec 31, 2013 — theklotzs
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail | Road to trailhead inaccessible
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Road off of SR20 questionable even with chains and all wheel drive, so parked just off 20. Beautiful...
Road off of SR20 questionable even with chains and all wheel drive, so parked just off 20. Beautiful hike with 2 windfalls. Trail is packed so can be hiked with snowshoes or good traction boots. Water running at the falls with lots of ice.
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Cedar Falls - Cedar Creek — Nov 10, 2013 — JulieP
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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Snow was thin at the trailhead but got thicker as we ascended, with about a foot of powder at the fa...
Snow was thin at the trailhead but got thicker as we ascended, with about a foot of powder at the falls. Several hikers in front of us broke trail; boots were fine, no snowshoes needed but you probably would above the falls. We nearly missed the falls because nobody had broken trail down to view it-- keep your eyes open! A few blowdowns with easy path around them. Easy track though. Our 3 year old made it almost the whole way up.
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Cedar Falls - Cedar Creek — Oct 22, 2013 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Blowdowns
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After setting up camp at Lone Fir CG, we had time for this short hike with a 500 foot elevation gain...
After setting up camp at Lone Fir CG, we had time for this short hike with a 500 foot elevation gain. The TH is 1 mile up FR200 which is 1/4 mile east of the turn off for Klipchuck CG on HWY 20. There are 3 trees across the trail. One is easily stepped over and the other 2 have well worn short trails around them. At 1.75 miles you can hear the sound of the falls, but you must take a short unsigned side trail to the left to view them. There were a few 'shrooms along the trail.
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Cedar Falls - Cedar Creek, Heather Pass — Oct 05, 2013 — explorerdogs
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Mudholes | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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I heard this was the golden week of October, the week to go find some Golden Larches so I plann...
     I heard this was the golden week of October, the week to go find some Golden Larches so I planned a weekend to go see if I could find some.
We started out on Saturday at the Heather Maple Pass trailhead about 9:30 am. Had heard there was the potential of encountering several feet of snow, but headed on up. There were several others heading up as well so was hoping there would be a well worn path. Prepped with gaiters, yak traks, and hiking poles we made it about a half mile or so past Heather Pass before deciding it was a little too much for us to continue on. Even with the path trodden down a foot or so we were postholing up to our knees at this point.
     We did accomplish our goal of finding the golden larches, made all the more spectacular by the fresh snow. The views were outstanding all the way up and it was hard to imagine them getting any better but they seemed to with each step we took. Definitely worth the trek even though we didn't complete the entire loop and look forward to making a return trip a little earlier in the season next year to finish up.
Seeing as we still had time and energy, we drove further east on HWY 20 to Cedar Creek Falls and put a few miles in on a dry hike. It is amazing how rounding a corner changes the entire environment. No snow here, lost of ponderosa pines, it was like being in a different world. This hike is in pretty good shape to the falls (about 2 miles in) with a few blowdowns to navigate.
I look forward to exploring more in this region in the future.
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Cedar Falls - Cedar Creek — Oct 02, 2013 — Sol
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Blowdowns
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We hiked this with children ages 9, 8, 5, 4(just turned 4) walking and the 2yr old in a backpack and...
We hiked this with children ages 9, 8, 5, 4(just turned 4) walking and the 2yr old in a backpack and had no problems. I'd consider this a moderate difficult hike in terms of terrain for a 4 yr old, you have to decide if a 4mile round trip is "moderate" - he did fine though. It took about 2hr to hike in, but we stopped to explore a lot and point out things along the trail.

It was about 50 degrees and a few bands of very light rain came through during the hike, but not enough to do more than dampen the leaves. The trail does kick up a little early, but don't get discouraged, it levels out to an easy grade for most of the 2miles to the falls. There were 3 blow-downs, but there are already walk-arounds/overs established. some very nice views of the surrounding peaks and you can hear the roar of Cedar Creek for almost the entire hike, although can't see it until just near the falls. There are several intermitten creekbeds along the way, but all were dry even though there has been a lot of rain this week - they must be snow-melt feed.
  There is a lot to see with the old-growth forest along the whole hike and great views of the ridge across the Cedar Creek valley as well.
  At the falls there is a scramble down to the ledge between the upper and lower section - it is slippery and you'll get muddy, but it was well worth it - again, even the 4yr old negotiated it without help. You're going to get damp due to the spray and "self-made" wind on the ledge caused by the upper falls, but not "soaked". Ensure to scramble around both sections, there are incredible views and you can get a lot closer than just the overlook. I would also recommend going just a few hundred yards farther up the trail there is a nice cascade which makes for an awesome picture.
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cedar falls bob barb.jpg
Upper Cedar Falls. Photo by Bob and Barb.
Location
Cedar Creek (#476)
North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest - Methow Valley Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain 500 ft
Highest Point 3500 ft
Features
Rivers
Waterfalls
Old growth
Wildflowers/Meadows
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Washington Pass No. 50

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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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