What's better than hiking to Snowgrass Flats and back? Hiking to Snowgrass Flats, then heading east to Cispus Basin and completing a loop on the Nannie Ridge Trail. Along the way, experience a broad expanse of meadow blooms with a lovely waterfall and the Goat Rocks looming overhead and Mount Adams close enough to touch to the south.
We offer a clockwise loop here, but it is just as beautiful the other way too. From Snowgrass trailhead at about 4700 feet, hike the first two miles through forest, mostly gradual uphill, to a bridge over Goat Creek, then a bit steeper to the intersection with bypass trail 97 and Snowgrass Flats at four miles.
Go left to find a spot at the Alpine Camp near the Snowgrass meadows. But more exalted terrain awaits you if you take a right at the junction on the Bypass Trail (97) and hook up with the PCT. Drop your pack here and explore about for awhile before you continue east to the lovely expanse of Cispus Basin. This area boasts two incredible view camps with a fraction of the people you would find at Snowgrass.
The trail circles left and down into the basin with Gilbert Peak and the Goat Rocks massif just ahead. Mount Adams feels close enough to touch to the south. Lupine, paintbrush, alpine daisies and lots of low-bush blueberries abound. Pass a 20-foot waterfall (scramble up the rocks to camps just above) and another creek crossing, where more camps are hidden in the trees just above before starting up the rocky switchbacks to Cispus Pass. The trail climbs just 300 feet more to the pass, steadily opening up views of the forested ridges of the Nannie Creek and Walupt Lake basins.
Cispus Pass is a small saddle at 6400 feet, with views east to the headwaters of the Klickitat River. The PCT continues to beckon southward, clinging to the side of the hill for another half-mile until passing back over to the west side of the ridge and dropping steeply to the intersection of the PCT with the Nannie Ridge trail 98 at 1.9 miles from the pass. Pretty little alpine Sheep Lake at 5800 feet is just past the junction, with a few more nice camps nearby, accessible from either trail. Follow Nannie Ridge with just a few ups and downs for about 2.5 miles to a junction and a nice little scramble route to the top of Nannie Peak, or another two miles with a final steep downhill to the Walupt Lake trailhead at 4000 feet, 6.4 miles from Cispus Pass.
The best way to finish this hike is by placing a second car at Walupt Lake. It is, however, possible to hike back up to the Snowgrass Flat trailhead at Chambers Lake. The approximate distance from Walupt to Chambers is six miles, and it is on a fairly rough trail that requires a fording and some trail-finding skills.
Follow the trail along the road (or just walk on the road) exiting the campground just past the horse camp, about 1.6 miles from the lake. Then go right (north) on Trail 7A as it returns to your car at Chambers Lake. One mile into trail 7A back to Chambers Lake you will come to a river that requires a slippery, boots off, knee-high fording. When you first approach the river, continue on the trail until it dead ends at the river shore - don't take the first river access trail.
Across the river on a tree is a very tiny sign that says 7A. Look for the orange marking tape in in the tree branches. That's where the trail picks up again. 7A signs are infrequent and hard to spot but will keep you on route until you emerge from the trail onto a forest road with firepit remains. Take the road left for about an eighth of a mile until you see the 7A sign as the trail picks up again on the left side of the road. Take 7A until you come to another road; the trail continues straight across but is not marked.
Following this unmarked trail, you will come to a third road. Take a right down the road and the take your first left on the first intersection you encounter (50 ft). Continue on this road for some time as it becomes quite overgrown in places, and will eventually connect with the wide gravel road you drove in on. Go right (uphill) to get back to the Snowgrass trailhead.
WTA Pro Tip: There are segments of trail 7A that parallel the road - try to find and use them as they are a shorter distance than walking the road.
Snowgrass - Cispus Basin - Nannie Ridge Loop
- 19.6 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 3,000 feet
- Highest Point
- 6,400 feet
Hiking Snowgrass - Cispus Basin - Nannie Ridge Loop
Snowgrass - Cispus Basin - Nannie Ridge Loop
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.4587, -121.5308 Open in Google Maps