Area: French Creek

Length: 5.5

Elevation: 2900 +520 -120

Condition: good but declining

Solitude: relatively poor

Appeal: low

Features: dust, brush, horses
some acceptable camps

Difficulty: fast and easy

Administered: USFS, North Bend R.D.

Trailhead: Icicle Creek

Connects to:
   Icicle Creek
   Upper French Creek / Meadow Creek
   Snowall Creek
   French Ridge Backdoor
   Klonaqua Lakes

Guides: 100Alp

   Green Trails Chiwaukum Mts
   Green Trails Mount Stuart
   USGS Jack Ridge
   USGS Cradle




This is one of the easiest hikes in the Alpine Lakes. It is relatively smooth and level, with the side effect of making it attractive to horses, who are seen wandering in and out with some frequency.

How is it that the guidebooks almost uniformly overlook this trail? Well, it is more of a means to an end than an actual destination in itself. Guidebooks rarely cover more than one feature in the French Creek area — so that feature subsumes the trail. Which pretty much epitomizes this classic trail's history and fate. It is so nondescript that on my last pass through in 2018, I forgot to take any pictures!

But on the positive side, you will pass lots of miles quickly, pleasantly enough, to gain access to some very appealing side features.



Footbridge across French Creek

French Creek footbridge

To reach this trail, first go to the Icicle Creek trailhead, and hike the Icicle Creek trail northwest 1.6 miles to the rehabilitation area at French Creek. Cross over the creek on a comfortable foot bridge. Continue on the other side for 0.1 miles, and look for a well-marked junction with French Creek Trail on the left.

The trail begins heading broadly west, and the further you go, the more the direction tends toward southwest. In the first 0.5 mile, there a few gentle switchbacks to reach the top of a small knob. This is the last interesting geological feature. At 2.6 miles, pass an ample camp below the trail with good creek access — it is a bit "horsey" and rarely used any more, but it can serve nicely as a temporary overnight stop-over if necessary. At 3.5 miles, pass the French Ridge Backdoor trail junction, on the right. At 4.5 miles, reach a small but pleasant creekside camp, just before the junction for the side trail to Snowall Creek.

At 5.5 miles, reach a crossing of Klonaqua Creek. Old trail guides report that there is a camp near this crossing, but I have never found it, and it might now be just a historical memory. Fording the creek rarely presents any problems, with comfortable firm gravel, smooth flow, pleasant water temperatures, and depth below the knees. During a heavy "irrigation drawdown," however, the flow could be more intimidating. After crossing, find the trail up the hill to Klonaqua Lakes just a few yards further. That is as far as this particular narrative goes.

That's not much to capture your attention, is it? But that is OK. The real attractions await you higher on the side trails.