Added by Thadd Zehnder
This has to be one of the best ridge top peak viewing trails in all of Washington State. Gaze out into the North Cascade's snow covered peaks, down into forested valleys, or simply linger in one of the alpine meadows and soak up the sun, take your pick or better yet pick them all.
Direction are from Mazama, WA. From Mazama drive west on the Lost River Road for approximately 19 miles to Hart's Pass. Note that the pavement ends around 7 miles from Mazama and the road becomes FS RD 54. The drive up to Hart's Pass is fairly exposed in one spot and has unnerved several of my hiking companions. Follow the posted speed limit and keep your eyes on the road and you won't have a problem. Once at Hart's pass take the first left towards the Meadows Campground. Camping and bathrooms can be had here. Continue past the campground to the road's end and the trailhead.
The trail starts from the parking area and almost immediately comes to a tee intersection. The intersection is signed; to your right is Hart's Pass and to your left is Methow Pass and Rainy Pass. Go left. In no time at all you will break out of the trees and into an open basin. The trail gently climbs for approximately 0.75 miles up the side of the basin to a small gap on a ridge. This is your first glimpse of what awaits.
From the gap proceed to your right. Its nothing but alpine views from now until you return. In a short 2 miles reach another small gap. This gap is situated just below Tatie Peak. The elevation here is around 7000 ft. From this gap one can view Slate Peak and the fire lookout there. If your have the energy and are comfortable with off trail adventuring a small barely visible spur will take to the top of Tatie Peak. Be careful as the north side of this peak has some pretty severe drop offs. Views of Azurite, Ballard, Crater, Jack and other peaks can all be taken in from this vantage.
Once you've had enough here push on. The trail descends very gentle to another gap at elevation 6800 ft. Walk out to the edge of the gap and look out at the Slate Creek valley and out at Mount Ballard. It's not uncommon to have four legged visitors here - namely ground squirrels and marmots.
The trails continues to descend from this gap. Pass through a stand of larches, alpine rock gardens, and heather meadows. Snow can linger here late into the year and at times the runoff produces a beautiful little mountain stream. Continue on and reach Grasshopper Pass at 5 miles. Wander around the pass taking in the views for as long as your day will allow. If you have the energy continue on along the trail towards a set of switch backs dropping steeply to Glacier Pass. Don't go down! Just before you start down you should see a trail spur to your left. In about a 0.5 mile reach the top of a small knoll. The views from this knoll are amazing. Look out at Mount Ballard, Azurite and Tower peaks, but also take the time to look down as well. The valley below contains the headwaters of the Methow River.
- Water! It gets fairly warm fairly quickly on this trail and water is scarce to nonexistent.
- Sunscreen and/or wide brimmed hat. The sun can be relentless and once on the ridge you aren't going to be able to hide.
- I also recommend bring a camera as the views are absolutely stunning.
- 10 essentials
- Northwest Forest Pass
The Okanogan National Forest contains probably the most free camping sites I have ever encountered. There is also a thriving home rental business in the Methow Valley along with restaurants and various shops in Mazama, Winthrop, and Twisp.
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