John Guilford's Hikes
Lower Railroad Creek Trail, Holden Village on 1998-07-28
Location: Lower Railroad Creek Trail, Holden Village
People: (including myself): Pam, Rich Wilson
My Alt. Real Alt. Approx. Miles
Start (Holden): 7:45 3220 3226 0
Leave Road: 8:00 3220 0.7
RR-Creek Trail: 8:05 3220 1.0
GP Wilderness: 8:25 3360 1.7
Wilson Creek: 8:30 3360 1.8
Dole Creek: 8:55 3360 2.7
Sevenmile Creek 9:15 3240 3.9
unnamed Creek: 9:30 3040 4.2
Tenas Creek: 10:00 3100 4.9
Klone Creek: 10:50 2740 6.3
Tumble Creek: 11:15 2820 6.8
unnamed Creek: 11:45 2720 8.0
Burn Creek: 12:15 2760 8.8
Start Lunch: 12:37 2360 2278 9.7
erness/Trail: 1:10 2340 2278 9.7
Domke Lake Trl: 1:30 2260 2182 10.6
Domke Mtn Trl: 1:45 1860 1708 11.9
Gate: 1:55 1540 13.2
Out (Lucerne): 2:05 1300
Ferry Landing: 2:10 1280 1100 13.5 miles
This was a pleasant, one-way, down hill hike. You start at an elevation of
3224' at Holden and descend to Lucerne on the shore of Lake Chelan at 1100'
and then take the Holden bus back to Holden. While there is a few
stretches of the trail that gain elevation, most of it is a descent. The
first ten miles gradually lose half of the elevation with the last few
miles switchbacking down the other half of the elevation.
The earlier part of the week had been hot, very hot. This day started off
with a partially overcast sky and cooler temperatures leading to more
pleasant hiking conditions.
We picked up the Lower Railroad Creek trail by heading down the road a
half mile (towards Lucerne), crossing Railroad Creek on Svend's Bridge,
and skirting the east side of the lower tailings pile until we picked up
the Lower Railroad Creek trail. Along the way one passes by several
padlocked monitoring wells used to measure the amount of ground water
contamination leaching from the tailings pile. Some of the trail around
the southeast side of the pile is probably in the worst condition. It
looks to be a somewhat rutted section of old road. It is still in plenty
good enough condition to hike over. It is just that the rest of the trail
is in real good shape.
Not too far down the actual Lower Railroad Creek trail, one passes the
boundary entering the Glacier Peak Wilderness, but this doesn't affect the
hiker. Almost immediately one arrives at the first of a multitude of creek
crossings. Like most, this one had a large log "bridge" over the creek.
The top surface of the log was flattened and grooves were cut to provide
traction. One or two of the later crossings had more primitive logs
meaning that they were smaller with a rounded top. None were really that
difficult to cross. A couple of the crossings were a ways up above the
creek bed. Someone with a fear of heights might find a couple of crossings
a bit anxious, but they really aren't that bad.
There are a couple of gradual up hill sections of the trail but it mostly
runs flat to a gentle down slope. From what we could tell, the trail that
is marked on the USGS doesn't really correspond to the actual trail. The
USGS shows the trail rising to almost 3700' at the Wilderness boundary but
neither my nor Rich's altimeter indicated any such gain.
We passed a couple of hikers coming up the valley. One group didn't have
time for the full hike so they only went part way down and were coming
back. Another hiker spent the night at Lucerne and was coming back up the
The last major creek crossing is Burn Creek. This is a relatively deep
cut in the side of the valley and the trail takes a large detour to the
side to keep at a relatively constant elevation. Across the creek the
trail does its only sustained elevation gain to avoid some cliffs further
down Burn creek.
Just after the creek Rich proposed stopping for lunch. Due to some bugs
(which on the whole were pretty negligible for most of the hike) and a lack
of view and lack of good place to set, we decided to continue on a bit and
see if something better would show. About a mile later, after climbing out
of Burn creek and traversing across the top of a little knoll, something
better did come along - a picnic table! This *obviously* was the correct
place to stop for lunch, which we did. This is immediately before the
Wilderness boundary and a trail junction to the Emerald Park Creek Trail.
Our trail then turns NE and passes about 1/4 mile from Domke Lake. The
next trail junction is a trail that would take one to the lake in about a
half mile. Not knowing how long it would take us to get down, we opted to
skip the side trip, though in hindsight we could have made it easily.
One starts getting views of Lake Chelan about here with one later overlook
giving a pretty unobstructed view up and (partially) down lake.
The trail then starts descending in open forest in a series of switchbacks.
Part way down a third trail leaves to the south leading to Domke Mountain.
About a mile further on we came to a gate across the trail. There was
fencing on either side that keeps one from walking around the gate so we
merely opened the gate, went through, and closed it. It wasn't clear what
the gate was for as it isn't marked on the USGS.
One shortly arrives at a road and a couple minutes later at the ferry
We got there about an hour before the ferry (which was running about 15
minutes late that day). By this time the sun had come out and the day was
warming up though it wasn't nearly as hot as it had been earlier in the
week. We took the opportunity to stick our feet in the lake which was
surprisingly warm. In fact, it was warm enough that I ended up going
swimming in my hiking shorts (not having brought a suit). It was a bit
cooler in deeper water but it was still surprisingly pleasant. Rich took
his watch thermometer and set it on a rock in about 1' of water. After
several minutes it read 76 degrees. The water didn't seem *that* warm, but
it was really pretty warm.
It was a pleasant hike and we'd brought about the right amount of water.
Between Pam and myself we went through out 2 one liter bottles of water
plus a 1-1/2 liter bottle we'd borrowed from the Hiking Haus at Holden.
Lower Railroad Creek at night.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015