Area: Chiwawa River

Length: 8.1

Elevation: 2500 +2300 -450

Condition: excellent

Solitude: highest

Appeal: medium

Features: isolation, meadows, beaver dams and lodges

Difficulty: moderate

Administered: USFS, Wenatchee River R.D.

Trailhead: Rock Creek

Connects to:
    Carne Mountain Trail

Guides: 100GP , CRcc

   Green Trails 113 Holden




The only thing that makes this trip moderately difficult, rather than merely moderate, is total mileage. The remote meadows are as pretty, but not as large, as the busy ones over the ridge at Spider Meadows. This is dry country, so the annoying bugs that you might find further up the Chiwawa Valley are unlikely to bother you here. The trail is surprisingly well kept — maybe to favor the horse crowd? Yet, horses rarely go here, and so much the better. The only activity you should expect is the occasional curious stare from a mule deer or ground squirrel. Or, beaver.



Start at the clearly marked Rock Creek trailhead, directly at the side of the Chiwawa River Road. Yes, it is smaller than the average 1-table picnic stop, but it really is the trailhead. A couple of cars can park there — ample room.

The first couple hundred yards of trail drive up the hill at a vigorous pace. That is just to give the weak spirited a stern warning that this trail is not for them. The rest of the way, the grade is much milder, elevation gain roughly 300 feet per mile average.

lower trail

The trail contours along the face of the ridge quite deep in the Rock Creek canyon, making three dips into dry tributary creek gullies, and then back out again. The first landmark of significance, at 2.6 miles, is a side trail splitting off to the right toward Basalt Ridge. This is actually a quite acceptable "backdoor" access to that trail. Most hooves and boots go there. Stay left.

Weave a bit over the next 3/4 mile to pass a more rugged creek gully and to gain elevation. At 4.8 miles, reach a sign indicating the boundary of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The trail starts to feel like a real trail here, instead of a horse highway. Pass a small trail-side camp and continue roughly level for the next 0.9 mile.

lower trail

Here you encounter an old landslide. Follow the two sets of mild switchbacks to gain about 200 feet elevation and pass across the top edge. It's not particularly dangerous, but watch your step. The view begin to open. Once past the slide, the trail slants downward, yielding back the elevation, to arrive at the creek, 6.3 miles. This is your first guaranteed access to fresh water.

The trail continues near the creek. At 7.1 miles, there is a slight rise and then another drop to the creek, this time to cross it. There is plenty of big wood here, keep those boots on and hop across.

red camp

Now on the north side, things really start to look good. The tall pines yield to open meadows and smaller pines. This is my favorite part of the trail, with easy travel, gorgeous views up the valley, and glorious sunshine. In 0.8 miles, reach the creek again. This time, the crossing is a bigger deal, but a very easy and pleasant one. Get those boots off and enjoy.

red camp

There are camps near the crossing, or find this large, clean camp about 0.1 miles further at the edge of the meadow.

Or continue on 0.1 more miles, to the last and most open of the Rock Creek meadows, with the creek gully just to the left.

red camp

Leave the trail here and move toward the creek near timber. You can find an abandoned camp site on your left just under the tree cover. All of these camp locations are great. How can you choose? How can you have them all?

But while you are there, be sure to scramble down into the stony channel of the creek. Wade your way up 50 yards to see if there are any beavers active.

red camp

If you are staying for a couple of days, be sure to take a day trip, continuing 3.6 miles to the end of Rock Creek, then up to the ridge 0.6 more miles to visit Carne Mountain.