Concrete, Washington

Backpack the Easton Glacier Railroad Grade

10 Miles Total - 3000 ft gain - Loop Trail

Originally added by Stephen Matera

This adventure offers pretty much everything you could hope for in a North Cascades hike...a volcano, glaciers, wildflowers, suspension bridges, river crossings (without bridges!), and blueberries in late summer. What's not to like? In late summer, gorge yourself on blueberries on the hike to camp. You can add an extra 6 miles and 1000' if you choose to add the Scott Paul Trail.

Begin at the Park Butte trailhead, trail 603. Hike past the first Scott Paul trail sign a few hundred feet from the trailhead. Continue on and cross appropriately name Rocky Creek heading up on the Park Butte Trail. Continue up the Park Butte trail passing the Scott Paul trail again at about 4,500'. At about 4,700 feet the trail forks, take a right which goes up to the Railroad Grade itself. The Railroad grade is a prominent lateral moraine formed by the retreating Easton Glacier which has a ridge like appearance. The trail ascends right on top of the moraine for a while before the moraine disappears into the rocky ridge. Between 5,500 and 6,500 feet there are numerous camp spots, with generally accessible water.

After you set up camp, take some time to explore above and over towards the dramatic Deming Glacier, as it tumbles down from it's lofty perch below the Black Buttes.

Now you have a choice to make. Do you head back down to the trailhead, or do you complete the trip as a loop returning on the Scott Paul trail. If your legs are willing, I recommend the Scott Paul loop.

To complete the hike via the Scott Paul loop, head back down towards the trailhead the way you came up. At 4,500', take the left at the turnoff with the sign post indicating the Scott Paul trail. After hiking through the forest, the trail descends the moraine you were just hiking on down to the creek and a nice suspension bridge over the river coming off the Easton Glacier. Follow the trail as it winds up and over moraines, forest, and creeks. Beware, there is a creek crossing that may be difficult in early season or on hot sunny days when glacier melt is making it swollen.

As you follow the Scott Paul trail, it will eventually reconnect to the Park Butte trail just above the trailhead.

NOTE: If you do the Scott Paul Trail option, the suspension bridge is only in place July – September.

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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