Sloan Peak Trail #648

Starting off on Sloan Peak Trail, photo by Martha Rasmussen

The trail starts off on an old mossy road bed that quickly 
deteriorates due to erosion looking more like a creek bed.  As you near the ford at the river, you will encounter a swamp, the work of a busy beaver, there are several saplings protruding from the ground in this area.  Not only is this area a bit tricky to walk through but also they are quite sharp.  In the late springtime Bleeding Heart and Trillium carpet the forest floor. 

Fording  North Fork Sauk River, photo by Martha Rasmussen

At 0.5 mile you reach the North Fork Sauk River, for many years there was a foot log at the crossing but it has washed away during high waters.  Just a little down stream where the river widens fording the river is possible during low water.  You can't predict the flow of a river, warming trends causing snow and glacial melt can take up to a week to contribute to the flow of the rivers below.  When weather is cold a river will be lower, (and very cold), in the warm summer months as snow and ice melt, the rivers can be quite high and very swift and surprisingly icy from the glaciers, by afternoon the waters will rise as the day warms up.

Looking up at Sloan Peak, photo by Martha Rasmussen

Once crossing the river the trail climbs steeply through forest, at 2.0 miles it enters the Glacier Peak Wilderness where you reach Cougar Creek near the creek's middle waterfall.  The trail fords the creek which can be difficult during times of heavy snow-melt.  The trail will continue to climb to the meadows at the base of Sloan Peak.
  Beyond this point is the climbing route up to the snow slopes and ridge over looking Sloan Peaks glacier.  This route should only be attempted by experience climbers with equipment.

Type of Trail: USFS
Length: 4.5 miles
Elevation: "Trail" 1,900 - 4,800, climbing route to summit 7,835
Level of difficulty: Most difficult

Best Seasons: Summer & Fall

Seasonal Interest:
  • Summer during snow-melt Cougar Creek may be impassable at the waterfall.

Wilderness restrictions: Yes, enters the Henry Jackson Wilderness.

Restrooms: No

Bring plenty of drinking water

Road & Trail Conditions

Getting There:  To get to Sloan Peak Trail #648 from the Darrington Ranger Station, drive south on the Mountain Loop Highway 17.0 miles. Turn left (east) on the Sloan Creek Road, (FS #49). Drive on this road for 4.5 miles to the trailhead which will be on your right.  Northwest Forest Pass is required for each vehicle parked.  Visitor use: low

Other websites:  W. T. A. Trip, Mount Baker Snoqualmie National ForestN.W. Hikers