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Lost Creek Ridge

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
View map below

Length

14.0 miles, one-way

Elevation

Gain: 5000 ft.
Highest Point: 5700 ft.

Rating

4.57 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2014
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Trail Closed 8.16.21: This trail is closed until further notice due to a wildfire.
 
 

The trajectory of this trail should be familiar to Washington hikers: a long arduous set of switchbacks granting access to a high-country ridge carpeted with meadows and broadcasting out to views crowded with peaks.

The majority of this trail falls within the Glacier Peak Wilderness. It is also unmaintained for much of the way, offering a remote and challenging experience for sure.

From the trailhead start out on old road grade and arrive quickly at the first switchback. Settle into a rhythm here because a long climb lies ahead.

After about 2,500 feet of gain on a switchback staircase you’ll come to Bingley Gap. You’re still in the trees here, but you’ll get your first preview of the scenery to come.

The trail turns decidedly to the right and resumes climbing. This section eases up a bit and pretty soon you’ll pop out of the trees and begin traversing lush slopes that flood with wildflowers during spring and summer.

At 4.6 miles from the trailhead you will arrive at an unsigned junction. The trail splitting off to the left goes 0.7 miles down to Round Lake.

After the turnoff the often-rough path is much less maintained. Although the topo map indicates a gentle ridge-ramble for the next 6 miles to Lake Byrne, the reality is a series of steep ups and downs on rough trail.

The scenery is endlessly spectacular as the way leads towards Glacier Peak with Sloan Peak looming just across the valley.

First, you’ll pass smaller Hardtack Lake, then bigger Camp Lake then biggest Lake Byrne. All are good water sources and good options for camping, especially the latter two. Be sure to follow wilderness regulations and camp at least 200 feet from any water source.

If your routefinding skills and stamina hold up, you can push on past Lake Byrne as the faint trail descends via more switchbacks all the way down to the banks of the White Chuck River. The bridge here washed out many years ago and a river ford—at any time of year—is highly dangerous and inadvisable. Because of this, The Lost Creek Ridge Trail does not provide for any loop options, and this last stretch is extra distance for its own sake.

However far you get along the Lost Creek Ridge Trail you’ll certainly get great exercise and a taste of the unique scenery and rugged travel that is synonymous with the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

 

Lost Creek Ridge

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.0936, -121.3365 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway

Lost Creek Ridge (#646)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

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Getting There

From I-5, take exit 208 and drive Highway 503 to the town of Darrington; 32 miles from the interstate.

At the T intersection in town, turn right onto the Mountain Loop Highway (Highway 503) and drive 16 miles to Forest Road 49. Note that 9 miles from Darrington, the road becomes gravel.

Turn left onto FR 49, (signed for the North Fork Sauk Trail) and drive it for 3 miles to the trailhead. 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Trail Closed 8.16.21: This trail is closed until further notice due to a wildfire.
 

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Lost Creek Ridge

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