White Chuck Bench Trail #731

Looking at White Chuck Mountain from the White Chuck Bench Trail, photo by Martha Rasmussen

White Chuck Bench Trail  is an easy, year round trail.   In spring enjoy early wildflowers, and in summer the shade of the canopy over a mossy glade.  Fall is a time of splendid color from the deciduous trees and shrubs, and keep your eye out for bald eagles.  In the winter you get views of the snowy peaks of White Chuck and Pugh Mountains.  The roads are usually open to White Chuck Bridge during winter, but there have been some winters  that this road was not passable due to snow, so you might want to check with the Darrington Ranger Station before planning your trip. 
Looking down White Chuck Bench Trail on a winter hike, photo by Roselie Rasmussen

The White Chuck Bench Fire Lookout was just east of the parking area and the trail starts you off on the old railroad grade of Sauk River Logging Co. paralleling the beautiful White Chuck River. In areas of second growth forest you will notice giant cedar stumps as you hike.  These trees were cut a long time ago all by hand with the two man "misery whip".  Many of the stumps still have notches where Spring boards were wedged in for the men to stand on.
Hardened volcanic ash boulder from Glacier Peak

At about 1.5 miles into the hike, just as you are leaving the conifer forest, keep an eye out for a large boulder made up of hardened volcanic ash.  Can you imagine the days of Glacier Peak's eruption's hurtling boulders this size?
Looking at Mount Pugh from the White Chuck Bench Trail, photo by Nels Rasmussen, D.C.

The trail is a series of ups and downs crossing a couple small streams.  There are several areas along the trail that open to great views of the mountains and the White Chuck River.
The trail was originally 46.4 miles long, but now after about 2 miles the trail is unmaintained.  A way trail continues for a short distance beyond this point then disappears into the brush. 

Walking the new tread of the White Chuck Trail, photo by Martha Rasmussen

There are plans to extend this trail all the way to Crystal Creek making it a hiking and horse trail.  The trail will end at White Chuck Forest Road where there will be amble parking for horse trailers and vault toilet
 Looking up White Chuck River, photo by Martha Rasmussen

Type of trail: USFS
Length: 2 miles, further trail is being worked on and rerouted to again reach the Crystal Creek Trailhead on the White Chuck Road
Elevation: 1,000 - 1,600
Level of difficulty: easy

Best Season: summer and fall, possibly spring & winter depending on snow levels.  Check first with the Darrington Ranger Station

Seasonal Interest:
  • Spring - vistas of the mountains and White Chuck River before tree leaves on on, early wildflowers, birding
  • Summer - Peek a boo vistas of the mountains, views of White Chuck River, wildflowers, mixed forest canopy, birding
  • Fall - beautiful fall colors
  • Winter - possible snow shoeing

General Information:

Wilderness restrictions: No

Restroom:  Vault toilet at the Sauk River Boat Launch before reaching the trail.  Vault toilet located at the Crystal Creek Trailhead.

Bring plenty of drinking water

Northwest Trail Pass required at Crystal Creek Trailhead

Getting There: From the Darrington Ranger Station drive south on the mountain Loop Highway for 10 miles, and turn left over the White Chuck Bridge onto FS Rd. #22.  Just across the bridge is a vaulted toilet.  Drive 0.75 miles to the trailhead.  There is a small parking area on the left.

Further Information:
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest