Backpack the Pasayten Wilderness via Iron Gate Trailhead

Rate this Adventure 24 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Candace Sturtevant

Untouched and undiscovered Pasayten Wilderness is Washington's well kept secrets. Spent 4 days and 3 nights exploring its wide array of terrain and expansive views.

We started our adventure at the Iron Gate Trailhead. The trail to begin with was pretty flat for about a mile and then begins to ascend higher and higher making for a bit of a workout. You walk through forests with hints of aspen trees and wildflowers, after that it changes to walking through a very rocky and bouldery terrain and a burn area, and then you get up to the alpine looking terrain.

We hike 7 miles in and reached Horseshoe Basin and camped here for the first night. The next day we hiked another 1.5 miles south through Sunny Pass and reached The Boundary Trails (Trail #533) which goes alongside the "boundary" of Canada. We chose to try to see Mount Goodenough and went east along the trail. We only made it about a mile and completely lost the trail in a burn area. We turned around and went west on the Boundary Trail and followed it for about 2.5 miles to Loudon Lake which is more of a pond. We camped here. The lake is a good source for water and swimming! The next day we decided to head back to Horseshoe Basin to camp as our trip was nearing an end. 

I would highly recommend a visit here if you have the time, as it is definitely out of the way to get to. During our trip (we went on July 4th weekend) we saw maybe 4-5 different parties over the course of 4 days. It is very secluded and peaceful. Seeing how the drive leading up to the Pasayten Wilderness is relatively flat and dry, you would never think that this wilderness area has much to offer. But I can assure you, once you start climbing in elevation it really opens up and becomes a whole new world. With expansive views, snowcapped mountains and foothills, alpine lakes and flowers, it has a little something for everyone. This wilderness has a lot to offer and I hope to go back and explore more. And you can really make this trip as long as you want, there are so many connecting trails to explore, just make sure before you go to check in with a ranger station and ask about trail conditions.

The only draw back is that there is little information about it. I spent many hours researching and calling ranger stations in the area to try to get a read on trail conditions. But again the extra research was well worth the reward of time away from the crowds.

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