Found at the end of the Middle Fork road, this short but steep trail reaches a scenic viewpoint in just over a mile, providing a big pay off with minimal effort. With a high point at 1,860 feet above sea level, the trail is usable year-round, providing the Middle Fork road is passable (snow is not removed from the road in the winter).
The hike ascends from a large trailhead to a cliff-top viewpoint with an expansive vista down valley to the southwest. On your journey, you will enjoy well-established second growth conifer forest with a lush fern understory. Frequent large nurse stumps provide evidence of the logging operations that took place here 100 years ago.
Keep an eye out for the midway point, which features a lovely viewpoint just half a mile in. That means hikers can travel as little as a half mile to enjoy this beautiful vista.
From the viewpoint at the top, the Taylor River and Middle Fork River convergence is visible far below. Stegosaurus Butte rises abruptly just across the valley, and Preacher Mountain stands majestically beyond. Far in the distance, you can also see Grouse Ridge and Rattlesnake Ledge.
History of the route
First envisioned in 2004 by members of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Society and MidFORC (Middle Fork Outdoor Recreation Coalition), the Garfield Ledges Trail was opened on National Public Lands Day in September 2019 thanks to a partnership between the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the work of many volunteers, including WTA.