Location: Central Cascades
Land Agency: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Roundtrip: 11.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,700 feet
Notes: NW Forest Pass or Interagency Pass required; rattlesnakes are common along lower portions of trail.
Green Trails Map: Alpine Lakes East Stuart Range 208SX
Contact: Wenatchee River Ranger District (Leavenworth)
More information: Day Hiking Central Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Access: From Leavenworth follow the Icicle Creek Road (FR 76) for 9.4 miles to trailhead located on your right.
Good To Know: dog-friendly, wide sweeping views, historic fire lookout site, limited waters sources–pack plenty, practice Leave No Trace Principles,
Celebrate this Independence Day on the Fourth of July Creek Trail. But be forewarned—you won’t be booming up this steep and hot path. This is a difficult hike that you’ll want to get an early start on it. The switchbacks are relentless traversing south facing slopes, taking the full brunt of the east side of the Cascade Crest sun. Be sure you take plenty of water along.
Start amidst some big pines and firs along Fourth of July Creek. Cross the creek twice and then begin to switchback like there’s no tomorrow up open slopes punctuated by massive ponderosa pines. In early season, marvel at dazzling wildflowers. In any season cherish the expanding views. At about 2.0 miles a spring may be bubbling—but don’t count on it. At about 3.5 miles the grade eases and the trail makes a long traverse before resuming to switchback.
Continue climbing through silver forest and rock gardens before making another long traverse. Across grassy slopes graced with whitebark pine make one final slog, coming to the 6,775-foot crest of Icicle Ridge and a trail junction at 5.3 miles. Now head left on the Icicle Ridge Trail for .3 mile to a junction signed “lookout site.” Head left once again and scramble 500 feet to within ten feet of the 7,029-foot former fire lookout site. The 1929-built lookout actually sat right on the rocky thumb. Don’t even think about it climbing it. Instead enjoy the amazing panoramic views right before you. Mission Ridge, the Entiat and Chelan Ranges, Glacier Peak, Poet Ridge, Big Jim, Grindstone, the Stuart Range and that big mountain right in front of you, Cashmere. What a view! Let freedom ring! Happy Independence Day!