• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2.2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    200 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic

Explore unique ice caves on this easy hike that the whole family can enjoy. Remember, the inside of the cave is very dangerous, with potential for falling ice.

Disclaimer: Hiking into the caves is extremely dangerous as there is potential for the ice to fall. We do not recommend hiking inside of them and if you choose to do so, you're doing it at your own risk.

This is a short hike at just 2.2 miles roundtrip with little elevation change. The hike takes you through the forest to the side of Big Four Mountain where the Big Four Ice Caves are. The official trail ends at the viewpoint of the first cave entrance but you can walk further or even go inside the cave if you choose. There are plenty of warning signs and people have died inside these caves so please be careful, use your best judgement, and enter at your own risk. It is really wet inside the cave and almost feels like a light rain if the ice is melting and dripping. At the back of the cave is the waterfall that carved the cave.

For the location of the hike Google these coordinates: 48.067916, -121.514354

Pack List

  • Northwest Forest Pass
  • Hiking Boots, however the trail is well maintained so you could be fine with just about anything on your feet.
  • Warmer layers, it is colder when you are near the caves, and much colder if you're inside them.
  • Water
  • Flashlight (for if you go into the cave)
  • Camera+tripod (for shooting inside the cave)
  • Waterproof jacket (for inside the cave)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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Big four ice caves was a fun day trip for small children, couples, novice hikers, etc. It takes roughly a mile to get to the ice caves. Nicely maintained trail As well. No need for crampons based on the current snow fall. It was more bare than we expected with snow already melting in the area. A bit disappointed with how many people were climbing on the ice or touching it in general more aggressively than they should have, but people helped correct those individuals as well. Overall a fun experience I would recommend to anyone.

3 months ago
3 months ago

I went with my friend when it first started snowing last week and it was gorgeous! The hike itself is short and easy with great views along the way. Definitely don't recommend going into the caves especially during the winter time - when I went, it looked like there was a ton of snow that collapsed inside and sometimes we could hear the rumbles of an avalanche.

4 months ago
4 months ago

Being such a quick and easy hike, this is a must for anyone in the Seattle area. With well-maintained trails, its hard not to enjoy this hike and the ice caves themselves. I brought my parents here when they came up for the weekend to give them a taste of the Pacific Northwest and this was the perfect hike. Highly recommend it!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

A astonishingly quick hike that has little elevation change and basically the trail is near perfect so anyone could easily do this hike. This hike is notorious with the accidents in the past, but just be careful. I recommend to my friends to not go close unless it's a cloudy colder day as if it has snowed recently it could cave in from the weight and if it is really hot then the melting will cause cave ins as well. A tip is not to stop at the little bench area across from what is considered the main ice cave. Go up and around to see the others. The waterfalls are amazing especially the farthest one away and sometimes they have their own ice caves as well (again be careful). A lot of beauty in one spot for a short hike so explore it all!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

One of the best short hikes to rewarding views! Just be careful in the caves as they do collapse - I witnessed a caving in during my visit last year.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

I enjoyed the view on the easy hike to the caves and while I understood the warnings about entering I had to do it anyways. It's pretty surreal to walk inside with a beautiful waterfall near the back of it. I definitely recommend this hike with- with some caution of course!

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

This is an amazing spectacle and an easy hike to get there. But be warned, do not enter the ice cave there have been tragic deaths of some who have ventured inside. The ice cave is made from build up of avalanche snow over the winter and the cave develops as water melts and the wind blows into the rock face. The cave can collapse or fail at any time. Be safe and admire from a safe distance.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Great to look at but be super careful before venturing inside. 1 person died and 4 were injured in a collapse just yesterday. Don't go inside if there is fresh snow on the mountain because of avy danger or when it is warm and/or direct sunlight because the cave is susceptible to collapse.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Theres a waterfall on the right of the ice cave. It's a short hike up.

almost 3 years ago
almost 3 years ago

The cave was unreal. There are signs warning that it is dangerous to enter, but the temptation is hard to resist and the sights were worth it.

about 3 years ago
about 3 years ago

It's a very easy hike to a beautiful location. Recommend it to anyone with a few hours

about 3 years ago
about 3 years ago

Easy hike but a must see!

about 3 years ago
about 3 years ago

I did this on a frosty week in mid November, which was perfect. I was there just after sunrise, so there were only one other pair of hikers & I had the cave to myself. If you cross over the hill to the right, you'll see a pair of frozen waterfalls.

over 3 years ago
over 3 years ago

Was amazing, depending on time of the year you go pack accordingly, went twice during late july-mid september is the best time

over 3 years ago
over 3 years ago

Michael Matti Explorer

Seattle based photographer and hiker. www.michaelmatti.com

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