White Pass, Blue Lake & Pilot Ridge Loop


Backpack - White Pass, Blue Lake & Bald Eagle Loop

Enjoy high-ridge and Glacier Peak views and wildflower meadows on this strenuous 5-day/4-night backpack of 38 miles and 8,000 feet elevation gain. Highlights include high-elevation campsites, White Pass, Red Pass, Kodak Peak, Blue Lakes and Bald Eagle Mountain.

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  • Very Strenuous
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 36.1 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 7,500 ft

9:00 A.M. on Thursday, August 24th at Sloan Creek Campground on Forest Road 49, on the North Fork of the Sauk River.

Carpooling is encouraged!


 From the Darrington Ranger District office, take Mt. Loop Highway 20 along the west side of the Sauk River. Drive 19.7 miles to Sloan Creek Road (Forest Service road 49) and turn left. Drive 6.6 miles to the trailhead.
 From the Verlot Public Service Center (11 miles east of Granite Falls, WA), drive east along Mt. Loop Highway 26.5 miles to Sloan Creek Road (Forest Service 49) and turn right. Drive 6.6 miles to the Sloan Creek Campground (47.997921, -121.225312) and trailhead and park there.

Find directions on Google maps here.

TRIP DETAILS (disregard the "see full route/place details" link):

The North Fork Sauk River trail starts gently in fantastic old growth forest.  We’ll start early, and walk 2.0 miles to a clearing with a signpost reading “Pilot Ridge Trail 652”.  Continue straight for another 3.3 miles to another clearing with an old shelter by the river.  Shortly beyond the shelter, the trail turns uphill and switchbacks steeply up 3,000 feet on open slopes before traversing the flowery meadow slope.  In 2.9 miles from the shelter, 8.2 miles from the trailhead, the trail joins the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) (6,000 ft.).  From here turn right and walk 0.6 miles to White Pass and a trail that drops off the edge to the right, down to a bench with several fantastic camp spots (water can be just a trickle below the camps).  Set up camp and drop gear.

 It’s time to do some exploring in the beautiful terrain.  Head back up the PCT 2.0 miles to Red Pass (6,500 ft.) for expansive views down the White Chuck River valley and across to the White Chuck Glacier and Suiattle Glacier on the southern flanks of Glacier Peak.  Boot paths lead up a small knoll to the south and also up Portal Peak to the north of the pass.  The PCT continues down to White Chuck Cinder Cone and Glacier Meadows and further north.  Return to camp below White Pass and enjoy a fantastic sunset over the peaks to the south and west.

From White Pass, continue south on the PCT for 2.3 miles through an open meadow with spectacular views.  Reach Reflection Pond and shortly beyond it the junction with the White River Trail, No. 1507.  Two miles further is Indian Pass (5,000 ft.) and the junction with the Indian Creek trail.  One mile beyond, at 5,700 ft., the PCT turns abruptly west at a junction with the unmaintained Wenatchee Ridge Trail, No. 1544, passing under 6121-foot Kodak Peak.  Find boot paths in the huckleberry bushes that take you up to the top of Kodak for panoramas of Glacier Peak and the surrounding mountains.  About 0.7 miles from the Wenatchee Ridge Trail junction and the top of Meander Meadow, reach a junction with the Little Wenatchee River Trail, No. 1525.  Take that for 1.1 miles to Meander Meadow and camping.

Return from the Meadow to the PCT.  Continue on the PCT another 0.9 miles to a four-way crossroads at Dishpan Gap.  From here the PCT continues south toward Lake Sally Ann and Cady Pass.  However, our route turns north on the June Mountain Trail, No. 650.  At 0.8 miles from Dishpan Gap, continue on Trail No. 650, and in another 1.9 miles turn right on Trail No. 652 for a final mile to camp at Little Blue Lake.

Next day, retrace the mile (and 500 feet of elevation) to the junction, and turn right on Trail No. 650.  Continue up and near the summit of 5,946-foot June Mountain, where you can take the short side trip to the top with views of Sloan, Monte Cristo, and Glacier Peaks.  Note: It’s late season, but here and at Bald Mt. we may encounter some residual snow to cross.  Descend and pass Spring Camp and dry Long John Camp, 2.1 mi. past the junction.  Travel another 2.0 mi. along the south of Long John Mt. and then following the ridge (enjoying the views) to Bald Mt.  Circle around the north side (some possible snow), then descend NW through timber for 2.7 miles to the Curry Gap camp and a junction with the Quartz Gap Trail No. 1050.

Hike 1.6 miles to the north on Trail No. 650, and descend steeply 350 feet to a converted roadbed.  Follow this 2.5 miles (often brushy) and cross Sloan Creek on a good bridge.  Shuttle 2.5 miles on Forest Road 49 to the Sloan Creek Campground and return home.

Ave. pace will be moderate,  1-1/2 to 2 mph.


  1. Be able to carry gear and food for five days’ travel.
  2. Be able to hike steep uphills and downhill with a full pack.
  3. Be comfortable walking on a trail that crosses some steep slopes; bring at least one hiking pole.
  4. Be able to travel short segments on snow.
  5. Be prepared for possible cold nights at elevation, possible inclement weather.  www.weather.gov    http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=48.2543&lon=-121.6042

White Pass, Blue Lake & Pilot Ridge Loop

  • Green Trails Glacier Peak No. 112

    Green Trails Benchmark Mtn No. 144

    Green Trails Sloan Peak No. 111

    Green Trails Monte Cristo No. 143

    Green Trails Mountain Loop Highway No. 111SX

    Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Mandatory Gear:
  • Sturdy footwear with a grippy sole
  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag down to 30 degrees, plus pad
  • Water filter, iodine, or other purifier
  • Food protection. It is difficult to hang food in some locations, so a bear canister is recommended (can be rented); or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • At least one hiking pole
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
  • Clothing suitable for hot days and cool/cold nights
  • Rain jacket
  • A Northwest Forest Pass for each parked car
  • The route is on 4 Green Trails maps, #111, 112, 143, 144 (see recommended maps)
  • Optional: A mosquito head net would be good insurance against bugs
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