Ptarmigan Traverse

The classic and rugged 35+ mile, high alpine traverse from Cascade Pass to the Suiattle River.

Temporary Closure

4/15/21 Update: In the aftermath of the Downey Mountain fire in 2020, the Suiattle River Road is closed west of Downey Creek, at about mile 19. This closure includes all trails beyond the road closure: Downey Creek Trail (No. 768), Sulphur Creek Trail (No. 793), Sulphur Mountain Trail (No. 794), Suiattle River Trail (No. 784), Bachelor Creek Trail (No. 796), and the Sulphur Creek Campground. Please check with the Darrington Ranger District for the most up to date information.

Suggested Itinerary

Peaks that may be climbed along the way include Mix-up Peak, Magic Mountain, "Hurry-up" (S Mountain), Mount Formidable, Spider Mountain, Le Conte Mountain, Sentinel Peak, Old Guard, The Lizard, German Helmet, Spire Point, Gunsight Peak, Dome Peak and Sinister Peak.

Most parties do the Ptarmigan Traverse in 5-7 days but you may do it in fewer or more days depending on your party's fitness and desires. Here's a sample seven day itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Cascade Pass to Kool Aid Lakes
  • Day 2 - Kool Aid Lakes to Yang Yang Lakes
  • Day 3 -Yang Yang Lakes to White Rock Lakes
  • Day 4 -White Rock Lakes to Itswoot Ridge or Cub Lake
  • Day 5 - Dome Peak
  • Day 6 - Itswoot Ridge or Cub Lake to Downy Creek or continue to cars
  • Day 7 - Downy Creek to cars via Suiattle River Road
  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Intermediate Alpine
  • Seasons: June, July, August, September
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Mountaineering Climb
  • Length: 35.0 mi
  • 8,920 ft
  • USGS Dome Peak
  • USGS Downey Mtn
  • USGS Cascade Pass
  • Green Trails North Cascades Ross Lake No. 16SX
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park

Upcoming Activities

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Ptarmigan Traverse

Climbing Trip
Volunteer appreciation climb for Foothills Climbing
Difficulty: Intermediate Mountaineering Climb
Wed, Jul 5, 2023 - Sun, Jul 16, 2023
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
3 participants 2 leaders
Registration closes Jul 3
Foothills Branch
Trip Reports
Mountaineers Beta & Brews: Ptarmigan Traverse

The Mountaineers Beta & Brews "Ptarmigan Traverse" presented on Jun 2, 2021 by Catharine Killien.

Mountaineers Beta & Brews: Ptarmigan Traverse and the Tooth Fairy with Jim Nelson

The Mountaineers Beta & Brews "Ptarmigan Traverse and Tooth Fairy" presented on Nov 27, 2021 by Jim Nelson.

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