Area: French Creek

Length: 3.5 (+ 5.8)

Elevation: 4570 +2730 -120

Condition: pretty good, minor obstacles

Solitude: very high except beyond pass

Appeal: high

Features: high alpine primitive camp, views

Difficulty: moderate

Administered: USFS, Wenatchee River R.D.

Trailhead: Jack / Trout trailhead

Connects to:
    Trout Lake
    Eightmile Trail

Guides: -none-

   Green Trails Enchantments
   Green Trails Chiwaukum Mountains
   Green Trails Mt. Stuart
   USGS Jack Ridge




This overlooked trail is much easier than you might expect. By virtue having one terminus well inside the "Carolines" portion of the "Enchantments Zone," the trail gets some attention by trail maintenance crews. The conditions and character on the two sides of the pass are distinctly different, but some might prefer the solitude of the high valleys on the rarely visited west side. At elevation 7230 feet, there are plenty of views, east to the peaks in the Core Enchantment zone, west to the Jack and Blackjack ridges. And of course there is the imposing summit of Cashmere Mountain a short distance to the northeast. (Cashmere Mountain is a technical climb, but there are comfortable scrambles along the ridge to nearby minor peaks.)



First, take the Jack Creek Trail for 1.6 miles, then turn onto the Trout Lake Trail. Follow it for 4.2 miles to a marked junction at a small camp near Trout Creek. This is the western terminus of the Eightmile-Trout Trail.

Following the marker sign, step over a small log, perhaps left in place to intimidate those who have no business on the trail, and follow about 100 feet to a ford of Trout Creek. This can be treacherous until about July when water levels run high, but by later July and August after things settle, the water is calf deep and comfortable. However, by then you also have more than one option to cross on a fallen log. The cool water might feel good on the toes...

Trail leaves Trout Creek campsite

Whichever way you do it, continue following the trail directly at the opposite side. In about 100 yards, reach a comfortable camp. There is a second smaller and very nice site nearby closer to the creek. Square right from the camp, the old trail to Trout Lake passes by a large tree. This small portion of the trail was abandoned, to avoid two creek crossings, when a newer and easier to maintain short section of trail was built on the other side. Continue straight ahead across the camp site to find the trail continuation at the far side.

The trail does not follow the route shown on most maps from here. For a while, it climbs at a moderate pace on the right side of a small tributary creek, gaining about 400 feet. Then it crosses the little creek (about ankle deep, maybe on rocks) and follows a long sequence of short switchbacks up the left side gaining about 400 feet more. Shortly beyond a cute little pool, a nice place to stop for a splash on a hot day, the trail swings toward the north.

Some big cuts

There was a major project (thank you USFS!) to cut through some large timber here. If the way seems confusing, just follow where the cuts were made, and you will have no trouble.

A rare view to Trout Lake

A long uphill run to the north avoids some steep slopes. Look for a rare open view down to Trout Lake along the way.

The climb

After gaining about than 200 feet, the trail returns to an easterly course, rejoining the more historical route as shown on maps. There is a gain of another 400 feet elevation, and then the trail swings toward the southeast. The grade is a bit easier here, gaining about 200 feet, then swinging south and roughly following a contour, dipping to cross tiny creeks in hollows, and then rising again over small ribs on the far side.

Finally, the trail breaks out at a small meadow. I followed left about 50 feet along the edge of the meadow and found a handy clear spot between the trees for a makeshift camp. There are also possibilities of going about 1/4 mile further and dropping down along the creek in a larger secluded meadow.

High meadow


Ascent to Windy Pass

The trail seems to disappear halfway through the small meadow. Continue in the generally indicated direction, passing a small tree with limbs shorn on one side, until you reach the small creek. Hop across. Turn left and follow upstream. Soon you will find the trail again, angling up the slope to the right. You will not have any trouble following the trail the rest of the way.

Ascending above meadows

The trail climbs steadily and easily, overlooking high meadows full of flowers.


Arriving at the pass

Approaching the pass, the grade becomes steeper, and the tread more loose and stony, but never seems severe or dangerous. The elevation gain from the meadows is roughly 900 feet.

The pass is open, and true to its name, windy. A trail contours with surprising ease on a snake track down into the Enchantments zone to the east. There are big views to the Jack, Blackjack, and French Ridge areas to the west, and to higher Enchantments peaks to the east. There are opportunities for scrambling to some of the minor peaks in each direction from the pass.

View west from Windy Pass

At Windy Pass


View along the ridge at Windy Pass

At Windy Pass