CHS 2 Hike

Field trip: Conditioning Hiking Series

CHS 2 Hike - Iron Bear & Miller Peak

CHS hike led at a CHS 2 pace (2.0-3.0 mph)

Info
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  • Very Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 12.9 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,600 ft
  • Pace: 2.0-2.5 mph

Let's carpool to the trailhead. We can meet at the  Park & Ride just off of I-90.

Gia link:

Topo Maps, Trail Maps, and Satellite Imagery (gaiagps.com)

Getting There

On I-90, head to exit 85 for East Cle Elum. Cross the freeway on the overpass and turn right onto Highway 970. Cross the Teanaway River bridge, and in seven miles turn left onto Teanaway Road. Proceed on Teanaway Road, bearing right where it becomes the North Fork Teanaway Road, then turn right onto Road 9703 just past 29 Pines Campground. At the first junction after 29 Pines, turn right onto Road 9703. Drive 5 miles to the end of this road.

Parking is limited here, and keep in mind that other cars have to pass, so park so that others can come and go. A toilet is available at the trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

Bring as much water as you can carry – you’ll parallel creeks on the way in and on the way out, but the majority of the hike is high and dry.

The trailhead at the end of Road 9703 is the site for both trailheads you’ll use for this hike. Park where you can, leaving room for others to pass, and set out on the Miller Peak trail. The trail begins alongside Miller Creek, and for the first mile and a half, you’ll be right at the water’s edge. Of course, this means that trailside vegetation is well-watered, and you’ll be swimming through thick foliage for much of this section.

Finally though, the trail does begin switchbacks up and away from the creek. There are still several creek crossings ahead, so you have more opportunities to refill on water. Your final creek crossing is about 1.8 miles in. After that, the trail truly gets down to business and begins climbing steadily to a viewpoint about 0.8 miles shy of the junction with the spur trail to Miller Peak. This teaser view completes a relentlessly steep hill climb, but you’re not finished yet! Head around the back of what you might think is Miller Peak, still climbing steadily, though more moderately, and enjoy views of Navaho Peak, Dragontail and some of the other Stuart Peaks, even Mount Rainier on a clear day.

In spring, this hillside explodes with wildflowers. Festooned primarily with lupine and balsamroot, there are plenty of others to take in as well, like bitterroot and columbine, among others.

Reach the junction with the Miller Peak spur trail 3.8 total miles from the trailhead. It may seem longer, but that’s because you’ve just climbed 2500 feet, and much of that was in the last 2.25 miles.

And, if you’re heading for Miller, it’s not over yet. In the 0.6 mile spur trail, you’ll gain yet another 600 feet to the summit of Miller. You can’t see it from here, but the views are truly spectacular from the small summit block. If you’ve got the energy, it’s worth the side trip.

At the junction, a trail switchbacks downhill, seeming to head right back the way you came. This is the County Line Trail, and despite its confusing direction, it is the next leg of your journey. The trail dips down around the back and then pops over a shoulder to continue on below Miller Peak. This section is truly stunning in spring and early summer, with balsamroot, lupine, and paintbrush, as well as the contrast of gray crumbly basalt to the red sandstone.

Crossing over another shoulder, you’ll begin switchbacks down fairly steeply. The meadows continue, but they gradually become more treed, and the wildflowers become more varied. You likely saw the trail far ahead of you as you traversed beneath Miller -- it climbs straight uphill out of a low saddle.

You’ll lose 650 feet on the way down to that saddle, which sits at 5,050 feet. Here the trail borders private property, as evidenced by the logging tract and roads coming up from the east. Stay on the trail as it heads straight back uphill, regaining 450 feet in 0.7 miles.

Past the straight-up section out of the logging saddle, the trail re-enters forest, and the cool shade will be a blessing on a hot day .The wildflowers are still with you, though there are fewer here in the forest.

Reach another junction after those 0.7 miles. Your trail continues straight on, now on the Teanaway Ridge Trail. The trail doubling back to your left is a hiker-only continuation of the County Line Trail, which continues for 2.7 miles and simply deadends a few hundred feet shy of a high point.

Now it’s less than a half-mile to your next overlook, the 5489-foot high point of the Teanaway Ridge Trail. There’s a very small side trail to get to a good seating area for a snack – don’t walk right by it! From here, you’ll have similar views as those from Miller Peak.

Once refreshed, head down, through somewhat brushy trail but mostly good tread. It’s 1.4 miles to your final junction, where the Teanaway Ridge Trail intersects the Iron Bear Trail. Take the trail to your right at the intersection, and continue switchbacking downhill on much better trail than you had going up on the Miller Peak trail.

After less than a mile, you’re in the South Fork Bear Creek valley. Continue alongside this quietly chattering creek until it merges with the North Fork Bear Creek, and parallel Bear Creek for the remainder of your trip. The trail is markedly better than Miller Peak's trail, but after a long day hike, this part can seem interminable. Keep trekking! When you see a nicely built bridge, you know you’re back at the parking area; none of the other creek crossings have bridges!

Route/Place

Iron Bear & Miller Peak



  • Green Trails Alpine Lakes East (Stuart Range) No. 208SX

    Green Trails Mt Stuart No. 209

    Green Trails Liberty No. 210

    USGS Red Top Mtn

    USGS Liberty

    USGS Enchantment Lakes

    USGS Blewett
  • See full route/place details.
Roster
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Ten Essential Systems

  1. Navigation (map & compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)
Trip Reports