John Guilford's Hikes
Glacier Basin on 2002-07-20
People: (including myself): Pam
Real Alt. Miles
Leave home: 9:30
Granite Falls: 10:10
Barlow Pass: 11:00 2320 0
Start Hike: 11:05
Old washout: 11:20
Weden Cr Trail/Bridge: 11:25 2320 1-1/4
Monte Cristo Town: 12:30 2756 4
76 Creek/Trail head: 12:45
Start steep section: 3400 5-1/4
Glacier Basin: 2:40 4500 6
Bottom of steep part: 4:00 6-3/4
Monte Cristo: 4:30 8
Leave Monte Cristo: 4:45
Bridge over Sauk River: 5:50 10-3/4
Out: 6:15 12
Leave parking lot: 6:25
Granite Falls: 7:05
We drove out to Granite Falls via Burn road and drove home via Rt 92 and
Rt 9 in order to compare drive times. It looks like it was pretty much a
wash. It probably depends on the traffic, etc.
The road to Monte Cristo is blocked by a gate at Barlow Pass. Park
there and walk in. The washout in the road that had been there the last
time we'd hiked in has since been repaired.
The first part of the road is essentially flat and level. At a mile
and a quarter, the Weden Creek trailhead (leading to Gothic Basin) takes
off to the right just before the South Fork of the Sauk River. The road
crosses the river on two bridges. At this time, the first bridge has been
rebuilt and can handle traffic, but the second bridge is collapsed. It is
fine for foot or bicycle traffic, but would not work for vehicles. After
the river crossing, the road continues another 2-3/4 miles to Monte
Cristo. Just before the township is the Monte Cristo campground, which
includes an outhouse, on the left. There is a bicycle rack here as
bicycles aren't allowed in Monte Cristo proper. Continuing on the main
road, one crosses the Sauk river on a solid bridge with good views of the
river and some of the surrounding peaks and enters Monte Cristo.
On the far side of "town", one trail goes right to Silver Lake and
Poodle Dog pass. Alternately, a different trail crosses 76 Creek,
continues along the old "Dumas Street" of Monte Cristo, and forms the
trailhead to Glacier Basin. Initially the trail is in very pleasant open
forest that was gratefully shaded and cool (today was a warm day). The
trail follows Glacier creek and soon emerges into a sunny, steamy vale. A
bit upstream one can see the waterfalls and cascades Glacier creek makes as
it descends from Glacier Basin. Several waterfalls mark the far wall of
the surrounding hills. The trail starts climbing in earnest and one is
soon alongside the falls on Glacier creek. A trailside rock outcropping
gives a good view of the creek and a stunning view down valley.
The trail from here on becomes relentlessly steep and difficult. Be
prepared to climb large rock steps and to ascend rock slabs that become
slick when wet (which they are likely to be). At times, the trailside
vegetation becomes immensely helpful as a botanical belay. Part way up
this climb we almost turned around. We had initially planned to be back
home by 6pm, and we'd reached our turn around time. However, with the
basin this close, we decided to push on and return later than we'd
planned. While we were debating our choice, a pair of women passed us
coming down. They found the climb too relentless, and fatigued they
decided to turn around rather than risk injury. We continued up and
eventually the trail started evening out and turned the corner into the
small valley leading to Glacier basin.
As you approach the basin, the trail divides into two: the lower
trail and the upper trail. Do not take the lower trail. We did and it
winds in and around the creek and wet lands. Eventually it peters out amid
a rock slide. Ascending the rock slide, we found the "real" trail which
connects with the upper trail (the way we went out). As we were short of
time, we stopped at the rock slide with a view into Glacier basin (and Ray's
Knoll) and had our lunch. After lunch we left (via the upper trail, which
proved to be easier than the lower one). The descent through the steep
part of the trail ended up being easier than I had feared that it might
When we returned to Monte Cristo, we paused for a moment while Pam
changed from her (non-waterproof) hiking boots into her sneakers. For the
hike back on the road, these shoes proved much more comfortable for her
than her boots were.
The hike back along the road was sort of long, but on the other hand,
before you knew it, we were back at the bridge and almost back at the car.
The weather was gorgeous, with the only fault perhaps being that it was
The insects weren't too bad, though there were bees that bothered John
on the hike in and on the end of the hike out. A couple times the flies
were annoying but not all that bad. We saw numerous backpackers heading
into Monte Cristo and heading up to Glacier basin.
Pam crossing bridge over Sauk river just before Monte Cristo.
View up valley towards Glacier Basin. Note the waterfalls cascading down.
Pam on trail with valley view behind.
Pam standing on overlook near falls coming down from Glacier Basin.
Pam eating lunch with view into Glacier Basin.
Glacier Basin with Ray's Knoll just visible below and right of the slide
visible in the center of the picture.
Glacier Basin showing the pass between Monte Cristo Peak (left) and
Columbia Peak (right). Over that pass is the Columbia Glacier and Blanca
Creek running down from Glacier Basin.
John in front of Glacier Basin.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015