Backpack - Crow Lake Way to Grassy Saddle/via trail #953

Crow Lake Way to Grassy Saddle/via trail #953

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7:00 AM at Grady Way Park & Ride @ 207 S. 7th St. in Renton
Although open to all club members over age 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.

Crow Lake Way Trail #953 begins in the American River valley, immediately enters the Norse Peak Wilderness (within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest), switchbacks steadily upwards through forests, and then traverses along an airy hogback ridge offering views in all directions. Steadily, views are revealed of the American River below, Mt. Rainier and American Ridge, and—close by and directly across from the route -- the dramatic cliffs and pinnacles of the Fifes Peaks, remnants of a volcanic caldera that exploded 25 million years ago. The route continues to a broad divide above the Crow Creek drainage, about 4 1/2 miles up the trail, and then descends about 300 feet to campsites near Grassy Saddle, where there is a creek and small lake (parties must camp at least 100 feet from the lake).

Mountain goats, deer, and elk inhabit the area and are often seen by hikers. The trail is well-maintained but likely to be dusty in places as it’s often used by horse parties.

The trailhead is on Highway 410 about 12 miles east of Chinook Pass (1.5 miles E of Pleasant Valley Campground). Drive time from the Grady Way P&R; at 207 S 7th St in Renton to the trailhead: 2+ hours.

This trip highlights the natural history of the drier, sunnier eastern slopes of the Cascades. Expect to see good displays of early season flowers, dramatic geology, and most likely, local wildlife as well. If you plan to get into higher country later in the season, this trip will be a good conditioner for you.

We’ll hike a total of 10 miles on this round-trip backpack, with nearly all elevation gained on Day 1. Depending on time and party inclination, we also may take a short hike after establishing camp. Be sure to be in shape to hike steeply uphill for several hours on Day 1 when we will gain 2,300 feet of elevation on steady switchbacks. We will hike at a pace comfortable for all party members, taking rest stops as needed to replenish our energy and enjoy the remarkable views the trail affords.

We’ll camp in the rolling green meadows below Grassy Saddle, just past our high point. After establishing our camp, we may take a short hike to the head of the basin above Falls Creek for close-up views of the Fifes Peaks, or continue along the trail towards Sheepherder and Crow Creek Lakes, where deer and elk are often seen.

I will facilitate carpools and send out driving directions a few days before the trip.

Drivers can purchase the needed parking pass online:

I will contact all participants in advance of the trip with gear requirements and planning assistance and potential for gear sharing.

This trip could be cancelled or moved if weather or trail conditions are unsafe on the trip dates.

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials
Trip Reports