Flume Creek Trail is the Goldilocks option for hiking Abercrombie Mountain, eastern Washington's second highest peak. The main Abercrombie Mountain Trail on the west side of the peak provides a slightly shorter hike but lacks the beauty of the east side's superior forest and views. The North Fork Silver Creek Trail is a match for Flume Creek's beauty, but it's nearly twice the distance and elevation gain, thereby significantly raising the difficulty rating. When you're looking for the just-right trail to ascend to Abercrombie's summit, Flume Creek is the perfect fit. Flume Creek Trail is also a segment of the Pacific Northwest Trail, stretching from Glacier National Park to the Pacific Ocean.
Getting here can be the hardest part, as the Forest Service access road is rough. High clearance cars and trucks can make it, but it can be slow going. The trailhead is small and has space for only a 5-6 vehicles.
Once on trail, the route climbs steadily but at a moderate grade. The lower portion of the forest contains a wide variety of tree species with evidence of abundant wildlife. As the trail climbs higher the lower elevation cedar gradually gives way to western larch, making a fall hike here especially attractive. The understory features huckleberries to keep summer hikers happy. The middle portion of the hike is on Department of Natural Resources land, surrounded entirely by the Colville National Forest.
At approximately the 3 mile mark the trail reaches an alpine zone with increasingly expansive views in all directions. To the north, hikers can peer across the border swath into Canada. Due east hikers can note the peaks of the Salmo Priest Wilderness, including Gypsy Peak, the tallest mountain in eastern Washington. Despite coming in at number two for height in eastern Washington, Abercrombie has an interesting claim to fame: it is seventh on the list of most topographically prominent peaks in the state of Washington, and therefore has some of the best views in the state from its summit.
At approximately the 4 mile mark, Flume Creek Trail meets the Abercrombie Mountain Trail. Bear right at the junction for the final quarter mile to the summit along a rocky ridge. Hikers will find the remains of the old Abercrombie fire lookout and impressive views in all directions on a clear day. Ambitious hikers can extend the hike by following the ridge route out to Hooknose Peak (an unmaintained climbers' route). Otherwise, retrace the route to return to the Flume Creek Trailhead.