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East Creek

North Cascades


North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
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8.5 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 2500 ft.


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This trail sees infrequent maintenance from the Forest Service but it's a nice hike for those looking for something quieter ad more rugged. At it’s full length, the trail once connected to the Pacific Crest Trail. Today it offers a variety of outings depending on the skills and desires of the hiker.

At its simplest, the East Creek trail is a quick little leg stretcher for those driving along Highway 20 through the North Cascades. From the parking lot, a well-groomed route drops quickly through mature, cool forest to rushing Granite Creek (East Creek comes later). The location of the former river crossing is obvious but it's difficult to cross here. There is ample space to have kids run around, eat lunch, or just listen to the crashing water.

For those who want more, you do need to cross the river must be crossed. From the old bridge location, continue upstream until you reach a talus field (about 150 yards). A faint trail winds along the bottom of the talus for another 100 yards before dropping into the brush and side channels which must be crossed. You are aiming for a modified log crossing which has a rope handline. This crossing is good in the author’s opinion, though extreme caution needs to be exercised as a fall into Granite Creek would not end well. From the far end of the log there is a faint user trail heading uphill. In less than 100 yards you will intersect the original trail, turn right.

The trail is in remarkably good condition as it gains 1100 feet, climbing above East Creek. Leveling out after a mile or so the trail enters mature forest in the bottom of a large valley. After another mile the creek is reached, this is easy crossing later in the season. Although brushy at times, the trail continues in generally good condition for two more miles. After a few small creek crossings a junction with the Boulder Pass Trail is reached. Boulder Pass, in of itself, is a great destination with remote camping and stupendous wildflowers. Please be respectful of private property while passing through this area.

Just past the Boulder Pass turn off the Gold Hill Mine is reached. This is a great turn around point for many. There are numerous mining relics littering the area. Please be respectful and leave what you find here.

The general condition of the trail deteriorates from this point having suffered from landslides and lack of maintenance for several decades. After another couple of miles of steady, brushy hiking a final push of 1400 feet in gain gets one to Mebee Pass. It's a 16 mile roundtrip hike to Mebee Pass, with 4100 feet of elevation gain.

This lonely, rocky, exposed location is likely to be yours and yours alone! Revel in the beauty of the North Cascades with magnificent views in all directions. For the truly hearty, you may be able to connect with the PCT from here, but it's quite a routefind. There is also a standing lookout nearby here. This 10’x10’ L-5 lookout was built in 1933 and is said to be the last of it’s kind.

Note: The author has not hiked the trail beyond Gold Hill Mine and has used maps and other’s trip reports to provide this information.


East Creek

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.6674, -120.8729 Open map in new window


North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

East Creek (#756)

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Methow Valley Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Getting There

From Winthrop, drive west on Highway 20 over Washington and Rainy Passes to the signed Canyon Creek Trailhead. Three plus miles past the Canyon Creek Trailhead will be the well-signed East Creek Trailhead on your left.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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East Creek

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