The climb up the North Fork Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail is steep and often buggy, but vast meadows of wildflowers and alpine heaven are the well-earned reward.
The North Fork Sauk Trail is one of several routes to access the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the high country of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Since the floods of 2003, it has become the main access point for climbers, so it can get crowded. But don’t let that deter you, as there are plenty of meadows and enough alpine beauty to go around.
The trail starts with a gentle climb in old-growth forest and quickly enters wilderness. Grand western redcedars flank the trail as it winds its way along the banks of the North Fork Sauk River. Pass a junction with the Pilot Ridge Trail at 2.1 miles. Campsites can be found at 4.5 miles near Red Creek and 5.8 miles at the Mackinaw Shelter. To the shelter you have gained 800 feet in elevation. The next 3 miles will gain 3,000 feet of elevation. For the next several miles, water is scarce and the grinding switchbacks are exposed, so top off your bottles.
As you near the junction with the PCT at 9 miles, the views start to impress and the grade lessens. Turn north for 6,450-foot Red Pass. The walk from here is nothing short of spectacular, with views of Monte Cristo and Sloan Peaks. Upon reaching the pass, pause and marvel at the massive display of the ice-capped volcanic wonder that is Glacier Peak. Camping is not permitted at the pass, so descend into the sprawling meadows of the White Chuck Valley. The first campsites are found at 11.5 miles, on the spur trail to the White Chuck Cinder Cone; continue 1 more mile to the meadows and find your ideal home for the weekend.
Plan several days in the area. You'll want to explore the White Chuck River and Cinder Cone, and one day you’ll just want to sit in the meadows and admire Glacier Peak.
Glacier Peak Meadows
- 25.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 4,350 feet
- Highest Point
- 6,450 feet
Hiking Glacier Peak Meadows
Glacier Peak Meadows
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 48.0293, -121.2893 Open in Google Maps