Backpacking Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness
by Jeff Smoot (Falcon Guides)
© Jeff Smoot/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
If you're not into hardcore climbing, but you look for trails with great gains in elevation while staying on a trail. This is your trail! If you're looking for a good spring trail to escape the rainy weather this is your trail!
One of the deepest valleys in the state, you climb nearly 6,000 feet. You have two options on this ridge - I've hiked both in March/April. The Icicle creek trailhead overlooks the town of Leavenworth and it's cool to see people...cars... and eventually two-story homes be reduced to the size of ants in your landscape! However the trail is necessary yet hard to see in the snow, you can't safely just hike straight up the side, the snow slips out from under you even with snow shoes. The mountian side is so steep you'll have one foot a foot higher that the other and it's quite tiring to hike, plus there are about 20 huge downed trees that are difficult to climb under or over, you'd have to go around. About 13yrs ago the mountain caught fire and most of the trees are burnt or gone, so it's really not that attractive. The conditions were so bad after 9 miles the trail completely disappeared and i had to hike back down to the snowline and ended up hiking all the way out the same day!
A much better option is around the same road to the south side of the ridge at the 4th of July Creek trailhead. You climb almost immediately and for less miles, but it is much more beautiful and wooded, the trees you climb over are quite small and few, there's wildlife here, and flowers and a beautiful snow-capped ridge across the valley to view. This time of year on the south side you won't hit snow till you're almost to the top where the steepness rounds off. Then you can stand pround amoung a gigantic boulder outcrop at the summit and look out over ridges and Mt. Baker on a clear day. It's awsome!
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