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Scenic Rat Trap Pass Loop

A beautiful  forest drive seeing creeks, streams & waterfalls, rugged mountains, wildflowers, scenic vistas.

White Chuck River & White Chuck Mountain in autumn, photo by Martha Rasmussen

From the Darrington Ranger Station drive south toward the Mountain Loop Highway.  At miles 2.1 note the labyrinth of beaver ponds to the left.  At miles 3.3 you will see the Clear Creek Campground to the left and forest road #2060 to the right.  This is the road that heads to Eight Mile Trail, Bornite and Asbestos Creek Falls.  Just beyond this point there is a turnout just before the Clear Creek Bridge where the creek enters Sauk River. You will want to park and admire this beautiful rocky gorge.  When you reach 4 miles you will reach the Old Sauk Trail which is a nice leisurely walk in the forest along the Sauk River.  Just a little bit further is the accessible trail loop which people of all abilities can enjoy.

White Chuck Mountain, photo by Dan Thoms

Continuing on your drive you will see First Falls, a seasonal waterfall, to the right at miles 7.6 and pass forest road #2080, the road to the Peek-A-Boo Lake trailhead at miles 9.2.  When you reach miles 10 you will see the Beaver Lake trailhead to the right and the White Chuck Bridge with White Chuck Mountain in the background.  The road crossing the the bridge is the route for other scenic forest road drives, Gold Hill Loop, Cougar Hollow and White Chuck Ridge.  A little past the bridge you will see White Chuck Rd. #23 coming up on the left where you will turn left to continue your drive.  This road travels along the wild White Chuck River with beautiful views of White Chuck Mountain and several lovely creeks and streams along the  way.

Dead Duck Creek, photo by Nels Rasmussen, D.C.

At miles 14.6 you will come to a beautiful creek with a peculiar name, Dead Duck Creek.  Now how this lovely creek ever received such a name remains a mystery!  Shortly beyond this you will drive over the Lower White Chuck Bridge there will be a road to the left where you will find toilets and a picnic table.  Keep in mind while parking this area is a turn around for cars with trailers  Opposite from this turnout is a short trail to the White Chuck River.  Continuing your drive you will see a large pile of boulders which is the decommissioned White Chuck Road now open for foot travel.  You will turn left leaving the White Chuck River and begin going up the Rat Trap Pass Road #27.  During June & July this road has an abundance of wild flowers especially Turks Cap and Trillium.  As you drive gaining some elevation you will see Crystal Creek making a steep drop on the right.  There is a turnout just past the creek where you can park.  Standing in front of the creek certain times of the year you can smell the snow in the water and feel the chill of the higher alpines.

Rat Trap Falls, photo by Martha Rasmussen

As you up the Rat Trap Pass Road there are three stretches of road that are cut into the bank where deposits of sand and rock were left by ancient glaciers of the past.  Be mindful that rocks come down in this area especially during changes in the weather and heavy rains.  Even though you may have checked the forest service road conditions these rocks are ongoing and could likely not be reported.  The size of the rocks tend to be moderate in size and may need to be safely removed from the road to avoid vehicle damage.  Continuing on you drive you will begin to descend Rat Trap Pass at 21 miles, sometimes you can see the 3 upper Rat Trap Falls on White Chuck Mountain ahead of you as they drop from White Chuck lake.  When you  reach miles 21.5 you will reach 40 foot Rat Trap Falls.  Past the falls you will continue to descend passing over a dip in the road which is paved with concrete, this is a ford in the road designed to let water flow over the road.  Past this point the road will begin a series of downward switchbacks.  When the road again levels out you will have reached forest road #25 crossing over the Straight Creek Bridge.  You will soon be seeing the approach of the famous Boundary Bridge as it crosses the Suiattle River.  This bridge was washed out for many years and was very complicated to repair due decreasing funding and the requirements of Suiattle River's wild and scenic designation. 

Boundary Bridge & Suiattle River, photo by Martha Rasmussen

Once crossing the bridge turn left onto the Suiattle River Road, #26.  As you continue driving this road will reach pavement.  You are now headed west and back toward SR 530 & Darrington.  You will pass Tenas Creek  Road, #2660 on the right which is the road to the Tenas Creek - Boulder Lake trail.  In just a short distance you will cross Tenas Creek.  The next creek is Straight Creek.  When you come to the concrete bridge pullover and enjoy the magnificent gorge below and Teepee Falls from up above.  Can you see the concrete bridge bulkhead below?  This was where the Sound Timber Logging Railroad once crossed right by the waterfall.
Whistle Stop Falls, photo by Martha Rasmussen

Just a short distance past Teepee Falls you pass Grade Creek Road, #2640 on your right.  This is the road that takes you to Tupso Lake.  Continuing on your drive you will see Whistle Stop Falls on the right and in another 3 miles you will come to the SR 530 junction.  Turn left onto SR 530.  As you cross over the bridge you again will meet up with the Sauk River.  Driving south you will see forest road #28 heading up North Mountain which takes you to Texas Pond and the North Mountain Lookout.  Continuing south there will be several nice views of the Sauk River & the confluence of the Suiattle River.   You will pass the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Reservation on the left.  When you come to the Hampton Lumber Mill you will see two large green silos.  This is a co-gen to generate electricity out of green matter waste products.  The Darrington Ranger Station is just ahead.  Across the street from the parking lot is the Nels Bruseth Memorial Garden where historical dugout canoes are on display.