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Rampart Ridge Trip: Overview

trail map

Ramparts Ridge is a magical place, a perfect place to wander around, with more than you can possibly visit in a day. Unfortunately, it is close to the Seattle crowds, and on weekends very busy despite an infamous mile of challenging mud pits, tree roots, and switchbacks.

You should not expect to be completely alone here, but on a late-season mid-week date, the heavy traffic is gone. In my case, my trip followed immediately after an early snow storm. With better planning, it is possible to bring yourself up to wild berry heaven on the slopes of Alta Mountain, almost enough reason by itself for making the effort.

Take highway I-90 to exit 62, Kachess Lake road. This road is paved and solid, but full of curves and deer, so don't be tempted to go too fast after coming off the freeway. Continue about 5.0 miles to the end of the pavement at the Kachess Lake campground, swinging left there onto the all-weather gravel road, away from the lake. About 0.3 miles further, there is a major fork that might be poorly marked — go right, along Box Canyon road. Continue approximately 3.6 miles more miles to the end, where you will find parking on the left.

The trailhead is across the road on the right side, starting with a few mild switchbacks and then settling into a long easy trek over streams, meadows, and more streams to the end of the valley — and then things change in a hurry.