North Fork Sauk River


Backpack - North Fork Sauk River

This is a 3 day 33 mile loop backpack, traveling through the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

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  • Moderate
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 33.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 6,600 ft


Leader Greg Winterstein. This is a 33 mile loop traveling through the Glacier Peak Wilderness. This loop features  varied terrain (ridge walks, meadows, lakes), and views of Monte Cristo, Kodak Peak, and Glacier Peak with several options for side trips (Red Pass, Kodak Peak). The route follows the North Fork of the Sauk River to the PCT where it branches off at Dishpan Gap. From Dishpan Gap the route passes Blue Lake and then follows Pilot Ridge back to the North Fork of the Sauk River. This loop can be traveled in either direction though there is little water for nearly 10 miles along Pilot Ridge. Numerous camps are available along the route including Blue Lake, Indian Pass, White Pass,  Mackinaw Shelter. There is river crossing over the North Fork of the Sauk River on the Pilot Ridge trail near the junction with the North Fork Sauk River trail (cross on log or ford).

  • On Day one, the group will meet very early to carpool to the North Fork Sauk River trailhead (near Sloan Creek Campground).  We will hike 8.8 miles (4000 feet) to White Pass and camp. The pace of the hike will be slow to moderate to enjoy the area and views, take pictures, and to adjust to the elevation gain. If time permits we may day-hike to Red Pass in the afternoon. On day two, we will hike 12.6 miles to Blue Lake gaining approximately 2000 feet. We will pass Kodak Peak and Dishpan Gap. There is an option to shorten day two on a steeper boot-track trail to Blue Lake. We will camp at Blue lake for the night. The last day the group will hike out 11.4 miles, descending 2900 feet (with 600 feet gain) back to the trailhead, crossing the North Fork of the Sauk river (log or ford depending on conditions) and drive home.

The trip is rated as very strenuous due to the elevation gain on the first day.  Pace will be slow to moderate to enjoy the hike and the area.  Participants do not need extensive backpack experience, but need to be in shape enough to handle elevation gains and mileage.  Hikers should expect long days and make no plans on the last day of the hike as the return time will probably be late evening.  Water shoes will be required due to one or two streams crossings.  Micospikes may also be required depending upon possibility of snow on the trail at the time of the hike.  Due to some longer sections without water, hikers must have the capacity to carry 3 liters of water. Participants must have a bear can, Ursack or way to properly hang their food.  The direction of the loop travel or location of the backpack may be changed due to trail conditions.  A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at the trailhead.

Although this trip is open to any Mountaineer member over 18, it is part of the B3 Backpack program, and students will get credit for this trip.


North Fork Sauk River

  • Green Trails Sloan Peak No. 111

    Green Trails Glacier Peak No. 112

    Trails Illustrated Glacier Peak Wilderness

    Green Trails Mountain Loop Highway No. 111SX
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Capacity to carry 3 liters of water due to long stretches without water
  • Maps for this trip are: GT# 111 - Sloan Peak, GT# 112 - Glacier Peak, GT# 144 - Benchmark Mtn 
  • Water shoes
  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • 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
Trip Reports