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Downey Creek

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
View map below

Length

13.2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1280 ft.
Highest Point: 2400 ft.

Rating

2.75 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2018
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Trail Closed: The Suiattle River Road is closed just west of the Downey Creek Bridge until October 6 2021 due to forest fire damage.
 
 

This trail provides access to Bachelor Creek Trail #796, Bachelor Meadows, Cub Lake and the Dome Peak area. The trail starts on the north side of FR #26 opposite a large parking area, on the east side of Downey Creek just beyond the Downey Creek Bridge.

The 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 (mp 6). 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.

 

Downey Creek

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.2595, -121.2229 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway

Downey Creek (#768)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

See weather forecast

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

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.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Trail Closed: The Suiattle River Road is closed just west of the Downey Creek Bridge until October 6 2021 due to forest fire damage.
 

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Downey Creek

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