We test-drove two trips to the Wild Sky Wilderness: a day hike and an overnight backpacking trip. Day Hike Johnson Ridge to Scorpion Mountain...
We test-drove two trips to the Wild Sky Wilderness: a day hike and an overnight backpacking trip.
Johnson Ridge to Scorpion Mountain
How far: 10 miles round trip.
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Time: Allow all day.
Elevation gain: 2,300 feet in; 300 feet out.
Difficulty: Moderate — expect some steep hills. Older kids with some hiking experience should be able to handle it.
Special features: Spectacular mountain views, alpine wildflower meadows, Joan Lake at end of hike.
To get there: Follow U.S. 2 to Skykomish. Turn left onto the Beckler River Road (Forest Road 65) about 0.8 miles east of Skykomish, elevation 950 feet. Follow the paved Beckler River Road about 6.9 miles to the Johnson Ridge Road (Forest Road 6520).
Follow the gravel Johnson Ridge Road for about 6.7 miles to its end at the Johnson Ridge Trailhead elevation 3,600 feet.
Be Prepared: No water at all on this trail — pack enough for you and your kids and dogs. If you fill up at Joan Lake, bring water filtration or purification tablets. Hikers with dogs or children should also keep in mind that huckleberry fields may attract black bears.
You will also need: A Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead. Available for $5 for the day or $30 for the year and available in many sporting goods stores, such as REI, as well as online: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/passespermits/
How far: 4 miles round trip.
Time: Allow two hours for the hike.
Elevation Gain: 220 feet
Special feature: Fishing, swimming, lovely campsites
Expect: More people on weekends
Be prepared for: Mosquitoes. No facilities other than a pit toilet in the woods with no privacy.
Camping: Many established campsites around the lake but you may camp anywhere you like, and have a fire.
To get there
Take Highway 2 east to Baring, just after Index. Turn north, near milepost 41 across from the Baring store, crossing the railroad tracks onto Forest Road 6024. Follow logging road 4.4 miles to the trailhead. Barclay Lake is surrounded by the wilderness area but not part of it.
You will also need: A Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead.
Distance: 8 miles round trip.
Time: Allow all day.
Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet.
Difficulty: Very challenging.
Special feature: Fishing, solitude, scenery, swimming.
Expect: A tough hike, with steep, difficult footing, faint or nonexistent trail.
Be prepared for: Mosquitoes, accidents or getting lost. Take your Ten Essentials and then some: map; compass; flashlight/headlamp; extra food, water and clothes; sunglasses; first-aid kit; pocketknife; waterproof matches; firestarter. Also take water-purification filter or tablets, insect repellent and sunscreen. Be sure you know how to use a compass and map. Hiking poles are a big help.
Camping: There is a dilapidated cabin at Eagle Lake with two sleeping platforms and a wood stove. Several other campsites near the lake and beside Eagle Creek.
To get there: Follow the directions for Barclay Lake. At Barclay Lake, follow the sign for the toilet in the woods. Then head straight uphill, following the flagging. Once you hit boulder fields, stone cairns mark your way — sort of. After the boulder fields there is a faint trail to Stone Lake. We needed a map and compass to find Eagle Lake, a quarter-mile further, to the northwest.
Good to know
Recommended map: Green Trails, Monte Cristo (No. 143).
Useful Book: “55 Hikes Around Stevens Pass: Wild Sky Country” by Rick McGuire and Ira Spring (Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 2003).
Access restrictions: Storm damage to Forest Service Road 6554 and Forest Service Road 6300 means limited access by motor vehicle. That means a hike to some trailheads, including West Cady Ridge, Blanca Lake, Quartz Creek, and Pass Creek.
Wild Sky is not a park: There are no visitor centers, interpretive signs, designated campgrounds or accommodations for persons with disabilities.
For further information: Call Gary Paull, Forest Trails Wilderness Specialist for the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest: 360-436-1155, or the Skykomish Ranger District: 360-677-2414.
Sources: “55 Hikes Around Stevens Pass: Wild Sky Country” by Rick McGuire and Ira Spring, Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 2003, U.S. Forest Service, staff research.