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East Fork Foss - Necklace Valley

Central Cascades

Location

Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
View map below

Length

18.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 3400 ft.
Highest Point: 5000 ft.

Rating

3.23 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2018
 
 
 

The East Fork Foss trail makes a lovely spring or early summer day hike or backpack. The challenging climb into the Necklace Valley well-rewards hearty hikers with cool alpine lakes named for precious gems that you can swim, fish in, or just camp beside.

The trail begins gently along the East Fork Foss River, traversing through a beautiful, naturally-regenerated forest that was logged by the railroads in the 1930s. The first five miles gain only 600 feet. Lowland forest wildflowers will keep your senses busy - look for trillium, calypso orchids, and yellow violets and more. This pleasant stroll abruptly ends when you come to the crossing of the East Fork Foss River. There is an established campsite here, and this is a good turn-around for a day hike of the East Fork Foss.

Depending on the condition of the footlog and the amount of snowmelt in the river below, the crossing can be a little scary. Hold on to the handwire. After the crossing, the hike changes considerably as it becomes a steep, grueling climb, gaining 2400 feet in just 3 miles until you reach the first of the gems - Jade Lake. It's nice and peaceful, and there are established campsites here, but you will be amply rewarded if you push on to Emerald or Locket Lake. Be prepared for insects.

Enjoy a few days exploring up here, scrambling over granite, breathing in the fragrant mountain heather, and relaxing in the shade of forest. No campfires are allowed, so be sure and pack your backcountry stove.

From the cabin, a trail climbs, then drops west to Al Lake. There is a maze of social trails in this area.

The upper end of this hanging valley accesses La Bohn Lakes and the standard route on Mt. Hinman. This is most pleasant as a snow ascent in early season, but the snow chute to the gap requires an ice axe. Once the snow is gone, Hinman is very rocky. In late season, follow the left edge of the talus as high as possible, then work left on a discernible scramble track that generally follows the right side of the La Bohn Lakes' outfall.

Necklace Valley also accesses the Tank/Foehn Lakes areas. Ascend the very rocky, cairned medial moraine up this huge, recently glaciated cirque. Might be easiest in early season on snow. Please treat the fragile high country very carefully.

For an adventurous hike one may continue from Tank Lakes in a generally south-westerly direction towards Iron Cap Mountain. Fred Beckey shows this route as the Alpine Lakes High Route (see Cascade Alpine Guide, #1, second edition, page 188). One may circumvent ICM to the north or go over it (both routes have their pros and cons and neither are simple). At ones discretion, descend to either Otter Lake or Big Heart Lake on fisherman's trails. From either one may gain the West Fork of the Foss River. This trail will join Road #68 just one mile south of where your car is parked at the east fork trailhead! Note that your mileage will increase to 22-26 miles with ~6500 in elevation gain.

 

East Fork Foss - Necklace Valley

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.6659, -121.2881 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West

Necklace Valley (#1062)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

55 Hikes around Stevens Pass

Rick McGuire and Ira Spring

Mountaineers Books

Green Trails Map 175 Skykomish and 176 Stevens Pass

USGS 7.5' Big Snow Mtn.

Getting There

To get there, from Everett drive east on U.S. Highway 2 toward Stevens Pass. After passing the Skykomish Ranger Station on the left, continue another 0.5 mile and turn right (south) onto Foss River Road (Forest Road 68).The clearly marked parking lot and trailhead will be on your left at 4.2 miles.

 

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East Fork Foss - Necklace Valley

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