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Spectacular PNW trip suggestion??
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Elizabeth Camp
(scamp_80) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/13/2011 19:04:26 MDT Print View

Ok, I know there are a lot of PNWers on here and thus a lot of collective experience!

I'm looking for some amazing trip suggestions anywhere in Oregon or Washington. The trip will take place in late August or early September.

Here are some details:
--no difficult to obtain places like the Enchantments are out :(
--number of hiking days will be 5-7 days
--trip may be a loop (preferred) or a one way that requires a shuttle (e.g.PCT section)
--I've been to the Three Sisters area, the Olympics, the Gorge, and Hell's Canyon a lot in the past couple years so I'd like to go somewhere else.
--not super a section of something crowded like the Wonderland Trail is out

Of course, I'm not expecting anyone to plan out the trip day by day but perhaps folks could list a series of landmarks they consider to be particularly amazing in a particular wilderness area, trail, etc...Then I have some ideas that I can plan a trip around.

Thanks folks!!!!

Edited by scamp_80 on 04/13/2011 19:53:02 MDT.

Michael Mathisen

Locale: Oregon
Re: Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/13/2011 22:43:34 MDT Print View

The Eagle Cap wilderness is a must here in Oregon. I've never been but it's one of the wilderness areas I would jump at the chance to hike in!!! A must see.

Elizabeth Camp
(scamp_80) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Yeah, haven't been to Eagle Cap/Wallowas in a while on 04/13/2011 23:16:10 MDT Print View

Thanks for the suggestion! Keep 'em coming.

Eagle Cap Wilderness/Wallowas is on my list of possibilities...any idea what spots are a must see there?

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/14/2011 07:43:00 MDT Print View

Don't write off the Enchantments. Not the solitude you're looking for (although it can be found up there for sure), but it really is stunning and famous for a reason. They take walk-ins every day, so you could get lucky. A common tactic is to have an Enchantments trip ready to go and a solid backup in a nearby area of the Alpine Lakes or a Glacier Peak area trip. Many of the Glacier Peak trailheads are actually not that far from Leavenworth, so if you didn't get drawn on the daily permit you could still be on the trail by 10:00 am in some absolutely world class terrain. Personally I'd try an Enchantments daily lottery pick with the Spider Gap/Lyman/Miner's Ridge area as a (possibly even better) backup.

Then I'd hope for good weather in a big way :)

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/14/2011 08:14:17 MDT Print View

Still plenty of first come-first serve early September permits available for the Enchanments on as long as you're ok with camping outside the Core Enchantment Zone.

Michael Mathisen

Locale: Oregon
Re: Yeah, haven't been to Eagle Cap/Wallowas in a while on 04/14/2011 08:21:53 MDT Print View

I'm not sure what is must see. It could just be the wallowas themselves. I do know that one of the more popular routes leads you past Sacajawea Peak The Matterhorn and Eagle Cap. The trail system is pretty extensive in the Wallowas which should afford you a lot of options.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/14/2011 09:54:13 MDT Print View

I highly recommend the Pasayten Wilderness in Washington.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/14/2011 09:56:05 MDT Print View

I was in the Enchantments a couple years ago. Wasn't solitude, but because of the permit system it wasn't crowded.

On the other hand, there's just one trail going through the basin that's about 20 miles from trailhead to trailhead (Snow Creek to Colchuck) so maybe there isn't enough to do for 5 to 7 days. You could go up to Snow Lake the first day, then Lower Enchantments, Shield Lake, Upper Enchantments, Colchuck, back out - 5 nights - not a lot of mileage per day but then you could just wander around each spot.

PCT going by Mount Jefferson is supposed to be nice - I've only been above Pamelia Lake, but Jefferson Park is supposed to be nice. Or you could start at Santiam Pass, go North on PCT as far as you wanted, then back on several trails that are West of the PCT to make a loop.

Or go around Mount Hood - but crossing Eliot Creek is tricky. 40 miles. May keep you busy enough for 5 days.

Elizabeth Camp
(scamp_80) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
THANKS EVERYBODY... on 04/14/2011 12:06:56 MDT Print View

Well, I looks like either the Wallowas or Glacier Peak Wilderness would be great options...looking at the Enchantments it seems like that would be best saved for a shorter trip.

Now on to pouring over maps!

Edited by scamp_80 on 04/14/2011 12:07:32 MDT.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
North Cascades National Park on 04/15/2011 04:59:04 MDT Print View

Sounds like you've got your "short" list done. I'm surprised no one mentioned North Cascades National Park -- spectacular and not crowded in early September. Whatcom Pass is a great highlight, with approaches either from the east (about 20 miles or so to the pass after a boat ride with drop-off at Little Beaver Creek), or from the west via Hannegan Pass and Copper Ridge. Either of the above approaches can be fashioned into a loop (for the most part), but the "ideal" trip would be a traverse from the east side with the boat drop-off at Little Beaver Valley to the west side, exiting after crossing Hannegan Pass. Can do the traverse west to east too, but the boat pickup would be at the end of the traverse, requiring pretty good coordination of time and date for the boat to do the pickup.

From either direction, Whatcom Pass would be about in the middle of the traverse.

Here are a few trip reports, with the first one being a solo traverse that started from the east with the boat taxi up Ross Lake to Little Beaver Valley (after first leaving a car at the exit trailhead to the west of Hannegan Pass) --

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/15/2011 12:35:42 MDT Print View

+1 on the Pasayten Wilderness, many options and no crowds

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/15/2011 17:17:09 MDT Print View

"+1 on the Pasayten Wilderness, many options and no crowds"

Make that +2, but be prepared for lots of bugs in the summer, especially this year.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/15/2011 19:59:09 MDT Print View

Can you do the Ptsrmigan Traverse as late as September following a big snow season or is there generally just too much melt-off and icing to make that a late August/September option?

Elizabeth Camp
(scamp_80) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
I'll have to give Pasayten a look on 04/15/2011 22:18:00 MDT Print View

I've never been to Pasayten. I checkedout some trip reports at and all I can say is WOW... There are a lot of good ideas here. Thanks for the input.

I've seen friend's pictures of the Hannagan Pass and agree that it looks to be an amazing place. Thanks for the reminder and the links. I feel like my short list is now expanding. There are so many extraordinary places to explore!

I'm not sure about the Ptarmigan Traverse but my experience is that if we've had a high snow year, one's best bet at finding a route open is the late August to mid-September time frame and also that it's really hard so make a good guess this early in the year.

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Re: I'll have to give Pasayten a look on 04/15/2011 22:47:42 MDT Print View

Elizabeth, I've started to come up with an X-hours-from-Portland-that-X-hours-is-worth-driving-to-backpack list, FWIW:

1 Hour
OR/WA - Columbia River Gorge

1.5 Hours
OR - Mt. Hood
OR - Northern Coast (Ecola, etc.)
WA - Indian Heaven

2 Hours
OR - Bull of the Woods
OR - Deschutes River
OR - Opal Creek
WA - Mt. St. Helens/Mt. Margaret

2.5 Hours
OR - Mt. Jefferson
OR - Santiam Pass/Three Fingered Jack

3 Hours
OR - Three Sisters
WA - Mt. Adams
WA - Mt. Ranier
WA - Olympic NP (closest parts)

3.5 Hours
WA - Goat Rocks
WA - Snoqualmie Pass

4 Hours
OR - Crater Lake

5 Hours
OR - Rogue River
OR - Sky Lakes Wilderness
WA - Alpine Lakes Wilderness
WA - Glacier Peaks Wilderness

6 Hours
CA - The Redwoods
OR - Wallowas
WA - Olympic NP Coast

7 Hours
BC - West Coast Trail (plus ferry)
CA - Trinity Alps Wilderness
OR - Steens Mountain
WA - Pasayten Wilderness

10 Hours
CA - Lake Tahoe
ID - Sawtooths
MT - Bob Marshall Wilderness

11 Hours
BC - Strathcona PP (plus ferry)
MT - Glacier NP

12 Hours
CA - Emigrant Wilderness

13 Hours
AB - Banff/Yoho NP
AB - Jasper NP/Mt. Robson
CA - Yosemite

14 Hours
CA - Middle Sierras (Bishop)
MT - Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
WY - Wind River Range
WY - Yellowstone

15 Hours
CA - Lower Sierras (Lone Pine)

18 Hours
UT - Canyonlands
UT - Escalante NRA

Edited by ChrisMorgan on 04/15/2011 23:02:31 MDT.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/16/2011 09:54:56 MDT Print View

The Pasaytan is truly fantastic. The eastern half has a Tibet feel to it. Miles and miles of high altitude roaming. Gorgeous. September is getting a little late for up there, though. Depends on the year, but it can be pretty dry in September. Still a great choice. Bugs shouldn't be an issue in September up there. Nights will dip below freezing so they'll be pretty well done.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/16/2011 14:02:16 MDT Print View

Nice list, Chris! Some of it's a bit different for me since I live out the east side (more like 2 hours to the coast and 20 minutes to the Gorge), but still very useful.

You might want to consider posting it on:
where we get lots of questions that your list would help answer!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/16/2011 18:47:14 MDT Print View

"Bugs shouldn't be an issue in September up there. Nights will dip below freezing so they'll be pretty well done."

Correct. However, September, specifically September 15-25, brings another problem, hunters. You'd want to dress accordingly if you decided to go then.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Spectacular PNW trip suggestion?? on 04/16/2011 21:56:44 MDT Print View

5-7 days... Really depends on how much vertical you wish to do a day.

Really only one or 2 places in my opinion for trails. Glacier PEAK Wilderness or Olympic National Park. Glacier Peak Wilderness will have VERY FEW folks in it generally speaking.

My #1 recommendation as there are hordes of side trips you can do and if the will is strong, many class 2,3,4,5 peaks to climb if you so wish. Glacier Peak Wilderness. Here is a 5-7 day trip. Can extend it indefinetly of course if you are a higher mileage person by adding trails(loops) north of the selected area. Chiwawa river road end. Spider Meadows. Spider Pass. Chiwawa lake/Glacier. Suiattle Pass. Cloudy pass. Image Lake(must detour to in decent weather). Buck Creek Pass. High Pass. Back to car. Yes, if you are a high mileage hiker you can do this loop in 2 days, but there are a huge number of side trails and additional loops with attractions in this area. If the weather is nice, you will want to stay forever. middle to End of July is peak time for wildflowers usually, but if heavy snow year, can be pushed back by a month. Huckleberriers are peak in Mid/late August. Beware of Black and Grizzly bears. I have seen both. Black Fly season is generally middle of July, but tends to extend only to 5000 feet leaving everything above that ok minus the other pests of course.

If higher mileage person. Then a 100 Mile trip is going Around Glacier Peak itself. Park at North Fork Sauk via city of Darrington as the other two main access points are washed out(white Chuck/Suittle river). Could do it from the Chiwawa River Road, but I would recommend skipping that portion as you have to wade Chiwawa River and road walk a ways and instead go up the Napequa River Valley to High Pass and down to Buck Creek Pass. Exceptional beauty through there along with Red Pass. DO wander up Portal Peak or over to Kololo peaks(8200 to the east of Red pass).

Glacier Peak Wilderness was not included in the North Cascades National park because at the time there was designation for keeping a National Park a wilderness and the proponents who wanted it protected did not want roads put into it. Thus, it became a Wilderness and the North Cascades National Park/Ross Lake National Recreational area became a national park. Also, the North Cascades National Park really doesn't have many trails in it to speak of or worth mentioning, as its nearly all a climbers paradise. You have a couple passes like Fisher, Cascade, Whatcom, but generally all trails that do exist in the NCNP, are in deep valleys with no views. You have to get high and go off trail to truly enjoy NCNP.

Olympic National Park. If you don't mind some off trail rambling and glacier travel do the high divide loop going from Sol Duck Hot springs and the bailey traverse over to Mt. Olympus and back to your car. The other 5 day mellow loop is situated on the Quinalt River Trailhead on the South Side.

As posted by someone else, the Pasayten Wilderness has huge number of miles of trails, but IMO isn't all that spectacular of scenery(seems exactly like Idaho). Its more something to do in the fall time for the larches or spring time because its east of the crest and less likely to be poured on. The exception is the western portion where the true crest trail runs.

PS. If you want off trail routes, I can give you TONS of them that would encompass that 5-7 days in pure bliss in good weather. Ptarmigan Traverse. Pickets Traverse. Several other traverses as well. Here is part of the Pickets.

Edited by footeab on 04/16/2011 22:03:08 MDT.

noel thorpe
(geccoman) - F

Locale: NCW the dry part
+1 Glacier Peak Wilderness on 04/17/2011 09:10:33 MDT Print View

+1 On any of the many possible Glacier Peak wilderness area loops.You can add mileage if you so desire with countless side trips and always be in spectacular terrain and solitude. August or better yet September for clear trails,fewer bugs and the best weather.