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Backpack - American Ridge

Spectacular ridge top trek in the rain shadow east of Chinook Pass. Expect golden larches, bugling elk, and excellent views. This trail is challenging with some disappearing and rough tread and water crossings.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 21.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 5,000 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 6,945 ft
  • Pace: 2.0 mph

Meet at Chinook Pass at 9AM east parking lot on the north side. We will caravan to the two trailheads and position our cars.

This a Phase 1.5 trip--Yakima County. READ NOTES BELOW

We will follow Mountaineers' Covid-19 protocol--each participant is to attest they don't have Covid symptoms on the day of the trip or have been around those that do prior to the trip.  Each is to bring a cloth mask, buff or bandana which only needs to be worn when in close proximity, < 6' from others at the THs, on the trail or at the camp. Each is to bring hand sanitizer or bio-degradable soap to keep their hands clean.  Carpooling is not recommended and gear is not to be shared.  This trip requires a short, 2.5 mile shuttle from the final TH (Mesatchee Creek) to the starting TH (Pleasant Valley Loop and SR 410). We will share the ride in my 7 person van at the beginning of the trip.  We will all sanitize our hands and have the window full open for this shuttle.  Someone with also need to shuttle me back to my van post trip. A forest recreation/ American the Beautiful pass is required at the Mesatchee Creek TH.

This trip is weather dependent and may be modified, shortened or cancelled. Some rain or snow okay, lots of precipitation no thanks.  Be prepared for fall conditions: likely showers or rain, 12 hours of darkness and cold night-time temperatures. This trip is Leader Permission Only.  Please read the itinerary in detail and make sure you are up to these challenges. When requesting permission, please explicitly list trips you have been on this season that demonstrate your proper conditioning for this trip. Please explicit state that you are willing to do the ford of the American River (not hard, but cold) if needed, are okay with some route finding when the trail comes and goes and understand that there will be 12 hours of darkness and cold nights. 


Day 1:

SR 410--Pleasant Valley Loop Trail trailhead to Kettle Creek Trail.  Go up and up Kettle Creek to 0.7 miles past the junction of Kettle Creek Trail and American Ridge Trail. Camp is basin above Kettle Lake, possible dry camp with gathering water at the lake. Elevation 5700', travel distance 8 miles, 2464' gain, 256' loss. Optional sunset trip to 6280' summit  above lake.

Day 2:

Walk west on the glorious ridge. Ups and downs with some possible route finding fun and a few trail spots that demand focus, but safe. Great place to spot and hear elk. A bonus short side trail to 6942' summit with 360 degree views. Camp at second pond, 0.9 mile past American Ridge Trail and Mesatchee Creek Trail junction. Elevation 5700'. Travel distance 6.3 miles, gain 2193', loss 2,142.  If time and interest allows, optional exploring further west on the ridge, looking for elk and views and/or scrambling the adjacent 6066' summit or further away summit 6161'.

Day 3:

Head out to second TH. Retrace 0.9 miles east to junction and proceed down the Mesatchee Creek Trail. Pass a great waterfall.  There is an un-bridged crossing of the American River--there was an easy log crossings at my last visit, but not guaranteed this time. Will ford if needed.  Travel distance 6.6 miles, 314' gain, 2311' loss. 


American Ridge

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Ursack, bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
  • Complete rain gear and pack cover
  • Colorful outerwear and/or pack cover to be visible in hunting season
  • Two trekking poles--in case we need to ford the American River
  • Extra clothing layers, warm clothing, warm hat and gloves. Bring extra gloves if rain is forecasted
  • Sturdy boots, this is not a trip for trail runners
  • Micro spikes if there will be significant snow
Trip Reports