A scenic drive up the Entiat River takes you to the dusty trailhead of this backpacking loop in the rugged beauty of the Entiat mountains. Campgrounds along the way are roomy and beautiful with good water sources.
If you're heading counter-clockwise on the loop, the elevation gain is mostly at the beginning of the trip.
After 6.1 miles (and 1,300' of elevation gain) on the North Fork Entiat Trail, you'll reach the junction with the short trail up to Fern Lake (#1436). Fern Lake makes a good first night objective, although the 1.5-mile hike up from the river valley bottom is stout. There is no bridge over the river here.
Retrace your steps with a steep descent to catch the original trail, and continue upstream to the meadows below Cardinal Peak, which requires careful footing on a mile or more of very steep and loose trail.
Once in the meadow, you won't want to leave. Day hikes will take you up several local peaks that are in Washington's top 100. Saska Pass, and Millham Pass are other worthy day hike objectives form here. Basking in the floral array or golden fall larches isn't hard to take either.
Once you leave the river, it's steep and irregular switchbacks up to the junction with the Pyramid Mountain Trail (#1433). Looping back on trail #1433 has a different character. It's higher in elevation and has more ups and downs.
If you've got time, don't miss the opportunity to take an 8.2 mile RT side trip visit up to the old fire lookout site at Pyramid Peak Viewpoint (8243'). To get to the Pyramid Peak summit, stay on #1433 for 1.2 miles after the junction with the South Pyramid Creek Trail (#1439). Then head north on the Pyramid Peak Viewpoint trail (#1441) for another 2.9 miles of gently sloped and well-graded trail, with just a few switchbacks. The lookout is gone, but the 7125' relief down to Lake Chelan remains. Wow! Don't forget to check out the exposure from the privy perch on the NE corner.
Once you're back on the South Pyramid Creek Trail (#1439), take it all the way back to the North Fork of the Entiat to complete your loop. It has lots of generous campgrounds and signs of bear activity.
If you want an extended trip, forge on south of Pyramid Mountain on another loop trail option that takes hikers past Graham Mountain (#1433 to #1440, and then back to #1439).
NOTE: The mileage and elevation gains represent minimums. Side trips and flow of the trail will add to this.
North Fork Entiat River
- 26.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 4000 feet
- Highest Point
- 7150 feet
Hiking North Fork Entiat River
North Fork Entiat River
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 48.0112, -120.5718 Open in Google Maps