Gothic Basin highlights stunning landscape in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  This hike is an excellent day hike closer to Seattle (~75 miles). 

Looking for a hike that will make you feel like you're in a foreign landscape, but don't have to deal with that far of a drive? Then consider hiking Gothic Basin. This hike is located only 30 miles down the Mountain Loop Highway, which is nearly a hour shorter for people that live in the greater Seattle area than driving up to the popular hiking destinations of Mount Baker.

Looming above the old mining town of Monte Crisco lies Gothic Basin. This hike can be very strenuous at times due to the steep rocky landscape, and the rough trail constructed originally by miners, making the views that much more rewarding.

Start the hike by parking at the Barlow Pass trailhead. To access the trail you will have to walk 1 mile down a closed road that runs along the Sauk River. From here, the dirt road will end and the trail begins off the the right. The next half mile will be a cake walk. After you cross over Weden Creek, the grind of the hike begins.

Ascending nearly 3000 feet in elevation in just under 3 miles, you'll call for a break or two. Luckily, the views you have during the hike will make this almost essential. Once you reach the top, you'll be thrown in a scene of granite and small lakes, which will make you think you were in a scene of Lord Of The Rings. Climb up one of the Granite bluffs and enjoy the views while you eat your lunch. From here, you can continue on the trail for a short but steep distance to foggy lake, or stay in the basin with views of the unique landscape and North Cascades.

Thinking of making it an overnight, check out Scott Kranz's adventure Backpack Gothic Basin.

Pack List

  • Northwest Forest Pass
  • Hiking boots (Fair amount of wet rocks you will have to travel over)
  • Food and water that meets the needs for you and your party
Show More
RT Distance 9 Miles
Elevation Gain 3000 Feet
Activities Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Pretty views

Lovely alpine lake hike. Definitely a popular location, get started early. Many other groups on the trail. Very strenuous, probably 1/4 of this trail is actually scrambling instead of hiking. Good place to spend the night, lots of area to explore (practice LNT principles and stay off of vegetation). Dog friendly!

Not a bad day trip.

Nice views but it is a super crowded area, so unless you are going early summer when there is still snow or in the fall expect there to be LOTS of people day hiking & camping overnight. I recommend you combine this hike with scrambles of both Gothic & Del Campo peaks surrounding the basin.

over 1 year ago

Gothic Basin, Monte Cristo Ghost Town & Glacier Basin

Arrived at the Barlow Pass parking lot at 6:55 on a Thursday morning, ready for a grueling adventure and personal challenge: to complete Gothic Basin, explore Monte Cristo Ghost Town and tackle Glacier Basin – all in one day. To do this, I know I needed to start early and bring a mountain bicycle in order to conserve some energy. PART 1: GOTHIC BASIN I took to my bicycle and peddled down the hill (go left) on the gravel road until you see the big metal gate (to the right). This is the road that will take you to Monte Cristo. My first stop, though, was to hike to Gothic Basin (9.2 miles RT). The new trail is being worked on - go straight at 'Proceed at Your Own Risk' sign. Follow the ribbons, which take you around the washout area. Had to walk my bicycle by my side occasionally, which wasn't a big deal considering the amount of waking it had already saved me (and would later on). Arrived at the Weden Creek Gothic Basin #724 trail ~1 mile in. Parked my bicycle next to the trailhead and started hiking at 7:15 am. The trail is flat at first, following the river and traveling across the occasional wooden boardwalk. It then cuts across a stream and starts pushing upward. Rocky terrain and tricky footing are given relief by periodic switchbacks. Break out of the trees once you reach DNR Managed Lands (there is a sign) and enjoy expansive views of neighboring peaks, the valley floor below and towering peaks above you. The trail becomes more rugged as it steepens, but remains easy to follow. Entered Gothic Basin at 8:55 am. Follow the trail to the right if you want to visit Foggy Lake. The lake more closely resembled a pond, but still offered nice reflections of the rocky terrain surrounding. Beyond the lake, I spent an hour doing a small loop around the basin. There are quite a few fairly distinct trails to follow so you "Leave No Trace." Quite a few picturesque camping spots, 2-3 of which were occupied at the time. There's also a beautiful multi-teared waterfall that leads to an impressive overlook above Weden Lake. Overall, a beautiful area with much to explore. Started my descent at 10:10 am. Passed 8 other day hikers and 2 groups of backpackers. Arrived back at the Weden Creek Gothic Basin #724 trail at 11:10 am. PART 2: MONTE CRISTO GHOST TOWN Grabbed my bicycle and easily crossed the shallow river by hopping across rocks. Might have to seek out a log of two other times of the year when the river might be higher. Crossed two wooden bridges along the way to a short but gnarly part of Monte Cristo Road where large gathering of rocks make it difficult to walk and impossible to ride a bicycle. Bounced my bicycle beside me. There were quite a few uphill sections that forced me to walk the bicycle beside me, but was still able to ride about half the distance. Ditched the bicycle and did a quick walk through the Monte Cristo Townsite, trying to envision what it would be like to live in this small mining town in the 1890s. There are mostly wooden signs pointing out where certain buildings were once built, but there are some structures still standing and a few relics remain scattered around the area. Perhaps the most interesting was the Railway Turntable, which was used to turn the train the opposite direction... still rotates! Pamplets from the Monte Cristo Preservation Association are available along your tour - this include a map and some interesting historical facts. PART 3: GLACIER BASIN Follow the signs to Glacier Basin as you wander through Dumas Street and the rest of Monte Cristo. I departed from the official Glacier Basin No. 719 trailhead at 12:20 pm. The first part of the 2+ mile trail is a shaded old forest road. The trail then narrows and climbs steadily. In the distance, Glacier Falls cascades beautifully down massive rocks and craggy peaks spike the horizon. Once you reach Glacier Falls, the trail intensifies and the incline is significant. At one point there is an option to grab a rope to help propel you forward (and allow you to hold on as you descend as well). Lots of elevation gain, obstacles and scrambling from here to the top. Arrived at Glacier Basin at 1:10 pm. A pretty basin, smaller in comparison to Gothic Basin, but one that features more ominous peaks surrounding it. More vegetation, too. There are massive rocks sitting throughout the basin and a creek that calmly meanders around them. A few snowfields covering the rock slides above. Plenty of evidence of mining activity in the form of cables, pipes and the holes (now blasted shut) on the hillsides. Explored the basin for about 45 minutes and then made it back into "town" by 2:35 pm. THE ROAD HOME (BRING YOUR BIKE!) This is the part where the bicycle really pays off. Instead of walking the 4 miles back to Barlow Pass, I was able to ride (or rather, coast) the majority of the way back from Monte Carlo. And when there are already at least 20+ strenuous miles logged already, it is a complete joy to not walk anymore. Arrived back to my vehicle at 3:10 pm.


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