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Milk Creek - Suiattle River Loop

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
View map below

Length

34.7 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2100 ft.
Highest Point: 3900 ft.

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Due to a missing bridge this hike requires a potentially dangerous ford of the Suiattle River. Because of its inaccessibility and a lack of maintenance expect a brushy trail with blowdowns beyond this point.
 
 

The Milk Creek trail used to offer a gorgeous tour of the Glacier Peak wilderness via a 34.7-mile backpacking loop. Hikers followed the Milk Creek trail to the Pacific Crest Trail, then down to the Suiattle River Trail. Along the way it offered stunning close-up views of Glacier Peak, endless wildflower meadows and ample opportunities for solitude.

Unfortunately, it now requires a potentially dangerous ford of the Suiattle River due to a missing bridge. Because of its inaccessibility and a lack of maintenance, expect a brushy trail with blowdowns beyond this point.

Hikers start at the end of the Suiattle River Road near the Sulphur Creek Campground on the Suiattle River Trail. You will be following the northeast side of the river for 0.8 mile to the junction with the Milk Creek trail. This is the ford. The bridge is currently out, so search for a safe crossing — hikers have used logs across the river, but these are seasonally washed away and may not be present.

If you successfully cross to the west side of the river, set off up the Milk Creek trail as it ascends through deep old-growth forest for the next two miles. At 3 miles and 2400 feet of elevation, the trail opens into a meadow with nice views of Glacier Peak. Continuing, the trail continues to ascend gradually until it nears the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at 7.3 miles and 3900 feet of elevation.

To complete the loop, at the junction with the PCT, turn left (east). 36 switchbacks are ahead, so you've got your work cut out for you, but you'll be amply rewarded with views. A climbers' path leads off from the trail at 11.5 miles and another trail leads up to Grassy Point at 13.3 miles. A sidetrip up this trail is well worth the effort for the jaw-dropping views of Glacier Peak.

Another 8 miles along, the PCT leaves hikers at an intersection with the Suiattle River trail. Go left for a 12.2 mile descent along the Suiattle River back to the trailhead.

 

Milk Creek - Suiattle River Loop

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.2457, -121.1910 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway

Milk Creek (#790), Pacific Crest Trail (#2000), Suiattle River (#794)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

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Getting There

From I-5 take Highway 530 west to Darrington. In Darrington, take a left and continue north on Hwy 530 to near the Sauk River bridge and turn right on the Suiattle River Road (FR 26). Drive FR 26 for 23 miles until the road's end.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Due to a missing bridge this hike requires a potentially dangerous ford of the Suiattle River. Because of its inaccessibility and a lack of maintenance expect a brushy trail with blowdowns beyond this point.
 

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Milk Creek - Suiattle River Loop

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