Pleasant Valley Loop
Jul 24, 2011
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Pleasant Valley Loop
- Region: South Cascades
- Trails: Pleasant Valley Loop (#999)
- Avg Rating: 3.50
- Why You Should Go Now
- Wildflowers blooming
- Be Aware Of
This time, Kirsten chose the Pleasant Valley Loop, hike #999 in the Naches District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Supplemental information was obtained in John & Diane Cissel's book, "Best Old-Growth Forest Hikes."
The trailhead is on Highway 410, directly opposite Hells Crossing campground 15.5 miles east of Chinook Pass. A popular ski route in winter, this lovely forest walk along the American River showcases old growth stands of Engleman Spruce, Grand Fir and Douglas-fir, as well as larches so large that it's difficult to see the canopy to ascertain they are not Ponderosas. We also noted lodge pole pine and a few Alaskan yellow-cedar - small ones - we don't know if they're young trees, or old ones in poor soil conditions.
Though this is a 14 mile long loop, we chose to walk just a few miles on the south side of the river. The trail is well maintained, and though there is river access, the south side of the river has no gravel bars or sandy beaches like the north side does. At 3.7 miles is an obvious horse trail that leads to the river and a wide, mushy shore, where we stopped for lunch. (in fall, this area probably wouldn't be mushy).
Huge ant mounds can be found along the trail, up to 3 feet high and 4 or 5 feet in diameter - watch where you choose to sit or stand - you might be in the middle of an ant highway!
Currently the mosquitoes are thick and hungry - they drove us nuts in some places - so I recommend waiting til fall for this trail, though spring conditions (like now), the forest floor is carpeted with vanilla leaf - I've never seen vanilla leaf so lush as here; and coupled with the silvery bark of young grand fir and the red of old growth larch trunks, it's a colorful forest indeed!
This would be a pretty trail in fall due to the ground cover and occasional larch canopy - the larches are too tall for a huge larch-fest, but it's likely an awesome sight to see the yellow larch canopy poking through the fir canopy - I'll report back this fall.
Another old growth forest walk to fall in love with!