Currently a nonmotorized recreation trail, historically this was the main stagecoach route and first State Highway in Washington, connecting the town of Marcus on the Columbia River to Marblemount in the North Cascades. Enacted by the state legislature in 1892, this first cross-state highway was short-lived. It was abandoned as a viable commerce route in 1898, when an easier alternative was found over Sherman Pass (Highway 20), and now only this small segment of the original stagecoach line remains.
A hike here quickly reveals just how treacherous stagecoach travel must have been. Despite being an old road grade, portions of the route are both steep and rocky. The route offers excellent views toward the west when the skies are clear. This area has been impacted by several wildfires over the years, resulting in many standing snags along the trail and a dense young lodgepole forest returning. Wildflowers line the trail in the summer, and the surrounding hillsides turn golden in fall as the larch and aspen turn color.
The main access point for Old Stage No. 1 is at the Lambert Creek Trailhead on the west side of the Kettle Crest. There is a small free primitive campsite near the trailhead, along with an outhouse and picnic tables. The Lambert Creek Trailhead is shared access with both Old Stage No. 1 and also the Midnight Mountain Trail, creating the option of turning this hike into a loop of approximately 10 miles. From the trailhead, cross Lambert Creek and walk a short distance to where the trail splits. Old Stage No. 1 turns south and immediately crosses a bridge.
The trail contours south for approximately 1.5 miles until reaching an unmarked junction. Turn east and begin to climb toward the Kettle Crest National Recreation Trail. The total trail length is 5.6 miles.
A small campsite is located at the junction with the Kettle Crest Trail, with water available approximately 0.25 miles north at a stock tank. At this junction, the Kettle Crest runs both north, connecting to Boulder Creek Road, and south, crossing Highway 20 and eventually terminating at the White Mountain Trailhead. Old Stage No. 75 continues to the east. These connecting trails provide opportunities for multiple days of exploration in the area, with either loop or out and back possibilities.