What: An old miners’ trail that follows a steep path into an amazing alpine lakes setting.
Where: Make your way to Highway 9 and head to Lake Stevens. Turn east on Highway 92 to Granite Falls and after 8.4 miles turn left (north) to Mountain Loop Highway, follow the highway to milepost 30.5. Park at Barlow Pass trailhead and proceed by foot on the Monte Cristo Road for 1.5 miles. Weden Creek trailhead is before the Sauk River and Twin Bridges. A Northwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead.
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous to difficult
Length: 10 miles round trip (1.5 miles one way on bike or foot to Weden Creek Trailhead, 3.5 miles to Gothic Basin)
Beginning elevation: 2300 feet
Highest elevation: 5100 feet
Maps: Green Trails 143: Monte Cristo USGS Quad: Monte Cristo
Notes: Park at the Barlow Pass trailhead and bring your bike, if possible. Either way, follow the Monte Cristo Road for 1.5 miles to the Weden Creek Trailhead (No. 724) right before the Sauk River crossing. Follow the trail up through the old miners’ path that winds its way through some brush and then deep green forest. The trail was reconstructed in 1999 to rebuild the first 2 miles of the trail, so now it is much easier than before.
The trail has some steep switchbacks that eventually take you into the alpine zone, which rewards you with some incredible views of the Monte Cristo Range and more. Follow the trail as it winds around gullies and traverses some steep slopes. There are portions of the trail that require using your hands to get over the large boulders and roots. Don’t forget to pause and take a rest at “King Kong’s Showerbath.” It’s a nice refreshing waterfall on the traverse towards Gothic Basin. Once you enter the basin, drop down and follow the climber’s path past the first pond and head north toward the outlet stream for Foggy Lake. There are rock cairns placed along the route to help you find your way towards Foggy Lake. Once at the lake, find Gothic Peak on your left, and Del Campo Peak rising steeply on your right. These are popular mountaineering routes, so be cautious as steep snow lingers year round, and there is dangerous rock fall near these peaks.
More information: Verlot Public Service Center, 11 miles east of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway, open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily, 360-691-7791.
Scott Harder is owner of Cascade Guiding Services in Snohomish, www.cascadeguide.com