Backpack - Chinook Pass - Crow Lake Way loop

Chinook Pass - Crow Lake Way loop

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.
Meeting time and place TBD
This trip is for Mountaineers members over 18 years of age only, with an up to date waiver on file. Although open to all club members over 18, this trip is also part of the B3 backpacking Building Blocks series and eligible for B3 course graduation credit. In addition, this backpack will have a practical instructional/learning focus and offer experience in proper gear use and camp set-up techniques.

Individuals interested in this trip should email the leader at to get approved for participation.

The PCT north of Chinook Pass, and the rolling forests and ridges of Crow Lake Way, contain wide open vistas and rambling among some of the longest stretches of open meadow you can reach this easily from Seattle, though sometimes a bit crowded in the stretches just north of the pass. Most of our time will be spent far from the crowds, with copious wildlife for company.

Participants will be responsible for organizing their own carpools, meeting at one another's homes or picking each other up on Friday morning. From there we will drive to our trailhead at Chinook Pass – about 88 miles and 2 hours (each way) from downtown Seattle. (Google map directions,+WA&daddr;=chinook+pass&hl;=en&sll;=46.872056,-121.515645&sspn;=0.015989,0.0421&geocode;=FcJp1gIdWVy1-ClVM-iTLBCQVDGa1URpRmUlEA%3BFfg1ywIdg9HB-CmfAigqVcqQVDHEmPosgjOvfQ&oq;=seattle&mra;=ls&t;=m&z;=9

A NW Forest Pass will be required for each vehicle. As a courtesy, we encourage riders to bring $20 each for their carpool driver to compensate them for gas and wear and tear.

This walk is on the eastside of the Cascade crest so should be a little warmer and drier than parts west, but even here the weather in July can be quite variable, with 50-75 degree days and low 40s at night. Participants must be prepared for possible rain and temps that could dip to freezing. We also may encounter snow on the trail. Bring a good rain- and wind-proof shelter, non-cotton layered clothing and raingear plus a sleeping bag that will keep you comfy down to 35 degrees; as well as your 10 essentials of course! Please test your stove, headlamp, water treatment system, rainproof shelter and gear to be sure they’re working before the trip! The leader will encourage and coordinate sharing of gear in advance.

The route is rated Strenuous, and we’ll need to move along steadily at a moderate pace (1.5-2 mph on the climbs, 2-2.5 on the flat), so participants need to be well conditioned and prepared to pack light. The high point of the main trail is 6600’. On the first night we’ll aim to camp around BAsin Lake at ~11.5 miles. Our second night will be at Sheepherder Lake or on the grassy ridge beyond the lake, mile 21.3 (9.9 miles for day 2). On the third morning we may decide to take an optional ridge walk up toward Fifes Peaks, before packing up and finishing the last 3-4 miles of the loop. We’ll start our days with the sun, getting on the trail by around 8AM and setting up camp at 2-3 PM each day.

Water can be limited on the high ridge sections, so bring capacity to carry 2-3 liters to a dry camp if needed, though along much of the route we’ll collect and treat or filter as we walk. Trekking poles are strongly advisable, as we may be dealing with slopes with some residual snow. Streams may be running high requiring wading. Camps may be buggy, so headnets and plenty of repellent are recommended. Please bring the trip map in a rainproof zip-loc or map cover, and be prepared to use it. Bring an Ur-Sack or bear canister, because we may be camping where it is not possible to hang food. (It may be possible to share with another participant.) The leader will offer assistance to participants to help them get to a target fully-loaded pack weight of 30 pounds or less. Sharing of tents and stoves is encouraged!

Because of the early season and only rudimentary ranger notes on the route, although available information is positive we may need to make decisions on the fly to turn around and go back to the start if blocked by snow or trail damage. Flexibility will be required!

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials
Trip Reports