North Fork Sauk River #649
Aug 25, 1999
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: North Fork Sauk River
- Region: North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
- Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
- Trails: North Fork Sauk River (#649)
- Avg Rating: 2.86
- Be Aware Of
- Bridge out
What an amazing ancient forest! The first miles of the hike up the North Fork Sauk River Trail must be about the most beautiful old growth forest hike I've done in years. Within 100' of the trailhead, one is greeted with towering Western Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Western Hemlock trees that are 6-12' in diameter. If you have kids, take them here someday so they can appreciate them on a great short hike potential (although the drive is rather longish getting there).
The Mountain Loop Highway is in fine shape getting to the turnoff on FS Road 49. You have about seven miles of gravel driving on it, then another 6.5 or so miles on #49 to the trailhead. Nice muddy road after the previous nights rains. After last weeks hike in the Pete Lake area of Salmon la Sac, the bugs here were tame as a pet cat sleeping. Only at the trailhead itself were the bugs really noticeable, and also at the Red Creek area four miles in. We hiked very slowly up the trail, tripod in hand and taking hundreds of images of the forest and river. One spot alone on the North Fork Sauk River had us scrambling around taking photographs for 45 minutes! Knowing that we were not going to make it up to White Pass for this day hike, we simply enjoyed saying low. We spent too much time in that first two miles, and later on a clap of thunder up above on the ridge made the decision to stay back easy. At about 4-4.5 miles the crossing of Red Creek is challenging for those not experienced with fording or log crossings. The official log crossing which also had a nice cable to hang on to has collapsed. Numerous logs of various sized, angles of slope, and length, do exist all over. I still think it is easiest to just ford it in a slow section just up from the trail. Two young women came along, tried scooting across a log, and finally hopped off and walked across. Bring a towel to dry the feet! There are also many large trees down on the trail about three miles in that take extra work to find the way around them. Big ones! Lots of neck-high brush to wallow through also when hiking through the open areas.
On the way out, the flash was on the camera as I focused on taking numerous images of the incredible collection of fungus/mushrooms and other little things growing on the forest floor and logs. It made for a great macro photography slow hike back out to the trailhead by 6:00pm. After scoping out fall color photography outing ideas as we headed out the Mountain Loop Highway slowly, we headed for home and finished the day eating Mexican food at Ixtapa in Duvall - yum! A great easy day on the trail so I have plenty of energy for a long trek north of Stevens Pass on the PCT on Friday! Alan L. Bauer 8/25/99