Opening the Suiattle Road: Celebration and Trail Conditions
On Oct. 25, after years of advocacy and planning, the Suiattle River Rd. will be reopening to great fanfare. Hikers will be able to drive to the Suiattle River and Sulphur Mountain trailheads once again.
More than a decade ago, the first of what would be several powerful storms caused the Suiattle River to swell, surge and smash into the Suiattle River Road (Road 26). On Oct. 25, after years of advocacy and planning, the Suiattle River Rd. will be reopening to great fanfare. Hikers will be able to drive to the Suiattle River and Sulphur Mountain trailheads once again.
It will take years of work to fully restore the area's trails and facilities, but the road opening is a first step, and it's one worth celebrating.
Join in the celebration on Oct. 25
The Rediscover the Suiattle Celebration will take place from noon-4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25 at the community center in Darrington.
Note: The road itself will not be open to the public until 12:00 p.m. on Oct. 25.
Trail and campground conditions, volunteer opportunities
The area trails have had little or no maintenance since the floods, so hikers who are interested in exploring the trails should go prepared for rough and rugged conditions:
- Plan to encounter plenty of downed trees and brush this fall and early next year.
- Stock use will not be open until later next summer (hopefully by September of 2015).
- Buck Creek and Sulphur Creek Campgrounds are not open this fall and may not open next summer. (Both campgrounds were damaged during the floods of 2003 and 2006, and both have public safety risks, like hazard trees and damaged outhouses that must be addressed prior to re-opening.
Inspired to help clear and repair the trails in this hiking corridor? Keep an eye on wta.org/volunteer in 2015 and be a part of clearing the trails into one of Washington's most beautiful wilderness areas.
Trails to put on your to-do list
If you explore the area trails this fall, remember to go prepared for unpredictable fall hiking weather, and to leave zero impact on the area that's sure to see a lot of traffic in the coming year.
- Suiattle River Trail. Accesses the Pacific Crest Trail and Miners Ridge Trail. This trail had extensive repair work done after the 2003 flood, so it isn't in as poor a condition as some of it's neighbors, but you should still expect plenty of downed trees, especially in the first mile. (In July, Sir-Hikes-a-Lot reported 100-110 downed trees from the Suiattle River trailhead to the Image Lake trail junction.)
- Miners Ridge Trail. Accesses Image Lake and the Miners Ridge Lookout (a structure that is closed to the public).
- Downey Creek Trail. Accesses the Ptarmigan Traverse, a popular rock and mountain climbers route. WTA volunteers worked on the Downey Creek Trail in 2011, but you can still expect plenty of downfall.
- Green Mountain Trail. A beautiful climb through meadows up to spectacular views and the Green Mountain Lookout (which is also closed to the public).
- Huckleberry Mountain. A beautiful climb through forests up to views of Glacier Peak Wilderness. Trip reporter Jay L. hiked it this summer, and reported that it was severely overgrown.
- Sulphur Mountain. A steep climb that gains 4200 feet in 5 miles, and shows off some stunning views of Glacier Peak.
Suiattle trail Conditions
Here are a few more destinations, which bear visiting (and trail work).
The Upper Suiattle River Trail ends abruptly at a giant blow-out at Chocolate Creek. between the Miner's creek trail crossing and Chocolate Creek, the footbed is easy to follow, though the trail has alot of old-growth blowdown.
The crossing of the Upper Suiattle above Triad Creek is long gone. The river here is too swift for an unbelayed crossing. Perhaps in the future, a bridge can be reconstructed.
The Triad Creek trail provides an important connection from the Suiattle to the PCT and Spyder Gap via Buck Pass. Unfortunately, the trail is very hard to follow because of the thick blowdown. Nevertheless, as the wonderful Upper Suiattle area becomes visited more frequently, this connector trail deserves to be restored.
These comments are based on a week's reconnaissance in 2007.
ADK377 on Oct 24, 2014 03:31 PM
Suiattle Road celebration
There are lots of things planned for the celebration at the Darrington Community Center including a really nice lunch provided by The Darrington Historical Society. Donations are accepted as this is a fundraiser to help do more projects by the Historical Society focusing on the Darrington area. The lunch starts at 1 p.m. Hope to see you there.
Rusty Nail on Oct 24, 2014 06:43 PM
Suiattle Road is paved?
I've got an old and low car, so Middle Forkish roads are out.
string cheeze on Oct 26, 2014 07:01 AM
Once the road enters National Forest, the Suiattle River Road becomes unpaved, but it is in excellent condition so it should be a problem for your everyday average car.
GwenT on Oct 29, 2014 07:59 PM
Thanks so much to Zach for leading a terrific trail work party on the Suiattle River Trail! I wish I could be up there for both weeks of work! -Sarah mcGann, aka TrailMomma
TrailMomma on Apr 30, 2015 09:32 AM