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Backbone Ridge

South Cascades


South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley
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6.6 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 1750 ft.
Highest Point: 2900 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Washout on trail: A washout on this trail has rendered this trail inaccessible

This is a nice woods trail, but views don't reward the hiker until she or he arrives at Stevens Canyon Road in Mount Rainier National Park. 

The trail starts alongside a grassy rock slab and works its way to the top of the ridge. In 0.6 miles from the trailhead, a short side trail descends to the right to Backbone Lake, a less attractive, tree-choked hole filled with water. The shoreline is all brushy and there are no camps. There used to be a trail sign at the junction, but only the 4x4 post remains. Someone carved the letters 'LAKE->' into a tree. 

Continue up and about a mile, enjoy a short view of the Coal Creek woods on the south side of Highway 12. At two miles, cross an open area on a rock slab with a nice view of Tatoosh Peak. In early summer, a few orchids bloom here. The trail then drops, and continues to ascend to the national park boundary at Stevens Canyon Highway.

Proceed only if you have paid the entry fee or have an annual pass. The trail emerges east of the cut opposite a large parking area. A picnic on one of the tables west of the cut will be a reward for this hike, with a nice view of the mountain.


Backbone Ridge

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.6642, -121.6003 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley

Backbone Ridge (#164)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

USGS Ohanapecosh Hot Springs

Buy the Green Trails Packwood No. 302 map

Getting There

From Highway 12, turn onto FR 1270, found 3 miles east of Packwood or 1.5 miles west of La Wis Wis campground. Cross the bridge over the Clear Fork of the Cowlitz River, drive past a riverbank camp area at the end of asphalt pavement. Continue 2 miles on gravel road to the end of FR 1270.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Washout on trail: A washout on this trail has rendered this trail inaccessible

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Backbone Ridge

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