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Downey Creek

North Cascades > Mountain Loop Highway
48.2595, -121.2229 Map & Directions
Length
13.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
1280 feet
Highest Point
2400 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate/Hard

Road Closed: the Suiattle River Road is closed to vehicle traffic due to the Suiattle Fire

Hike beneath old growth trees on the lush green Downey Creek trail. Photo by George and Sally. Full-size image
  • Old growth
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Established campsites
  • Rivers

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None, Northwest Forest Pass

This trail provides access to Bachelor Creek Trail, Bachelor Meadows, Cub Lake and the Dome Peak area. Continue reading

Rating
2.75 out of 5

(8 votes) Log in to rate

Hiking Downey Creek

From the large trailhead, the Downey Creek trail makes a few switchbacks and gains 300 feet of elevation as a warmup, but from then on proceeds with a gentle uphill and a few ups and downs in between. After half a mile, the trail enters the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

The trail stays above Downey Creek for most of its length, but does meet the creek and follow it for a few hundred yards at several scenic places. The old growth Douglas trees in this area are impressive, but can constitute formidable obstacles when fallen and blocking the trail.

At one point opposite an avalanche chute, dense forest has re-grown where it was wiped out by an avalanche thundering down from Green Mountain — the momentum carrying the debris high up on the opposite slopes.

The trail crosses five tributaries to Downey Creek before reaching Bachelor Creek at 6.6 miles, elev. 2400 feet. The last of the five creeks (the one draining Downey Lake and Pilot Lake) may be difficult to cross in the spring because it carries a lot of water.

There are four possible camp sites along the trail before reaching the location of the former shelter at Bachelor Creek (about 6 miles in). All of these are on the west side of the trail. The quality of the campsites improves as hikers make their way away from the road. The first flat spot, 1.6 miles in is not much of a camp site, at a ridge just before the first tributary crossing. Two larger camp sites are three and three and a half miles in, but the best one is small and hidden right by the bank above the creek at four miles in.

The Downey Creek Campground shown on old maps got washed out by high water in the creek. Remnants of the campground and an outhouse can be seen on the west shore of Downey Creek. There are two walk-in tent camp sites in the old campground above the road and one messy site below the road on the west shore of the creek.

Toilet Information

  • No toilet at trailhead

More information about toilets

WTA worked here in 2018, 2016, 2015 and 2011!

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Downey Creek

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.2595, -121.2229 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

Road Closed: the Suiattle River Road is closed to vehicle traffic due to the Suiattle Fire

This trail is closed due to damage from the Downey Creek Fire until at least October 2022

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None, Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Drive Highway 530 north from Darrington or south from Highway 20 near Rockport. Turn east on FR 26, the Suiattle River Road and drive to a parking lot on the other side of Downey Creek bridge, approximately 20 miles from Highway 530.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

North Cascades > Mountain Loop Highway

Downey Creek (#768)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

100 Hikes in Washington's Glacier Peak Region: The North Cascades

USGS Downey Mountain

Buy the Green Trails Cascade Pass No. 80 map

You can improve or add to this guidebook entry

Downey Creek

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