Looking For a Great Seattle Day Hike: Consider Navaho Pass & Navaho Peak
Navaho Peak is the broad, high peak east of Navaho Pass in the Wenatchee Mountains; it is popular for its great views of Mt. Stuart and the Enchantments. These are both superb early season objectives, as are most of the Teanaway Peaks. This area melts out much earlier than the West Slope of the Cascades, and is relatively snow-free by June while the West side may still be blocked by heavy snow. The weather is also more reliable on this side, being the sunny side of the Cascade Crest.
Both Navaho Pass and Navaho Peak are easily accessible from the Stafford Creek Trailhead. The moderate distance of this trip (roughly 12 miles roundtrip-about a 5 hour moderate hike) which makes this a wonderful day outing. This area is popular, but not crowded trail.
Navaho Pass is an excellent introduction to the Teanaway area; it is flush with wildflowers, fascinating geology, and just enough elevation gain to keep it interesting; this hike has just about everything that makes the Teanaway area special.
Trail Information: What to Expect
The trail begins at the Stafford Creek Trailhead, a relatively dry forest area. The light brown soil, and small plants speak to the relative aridity of this area on the east side of the Cascades. You will still see plant life in an almost unbelievable variety. Scarlet gilia, pearly everlasting, lupine, penstemon of various types, cow parsley, tiger lilies, desert parsley, Indian paintbrush, anemone, Jeffrey’s shooting stars, glacier lilies, yarrow, and a host of other wildflowers will keep you company on your hike.
You will hike along Stafford Creek for about the first half mile before you encounter a steep switchback and aggressive elevation gains. The trail now levels out and you lose a bit of elevation before you rejoin the creek about a mile from the trailhead.
The grade becomes more moderate at this point as you gradually climb through meadows, past views of the creek, and beautiful fields of flowers. About three and a half miles from the trailhead you will reach a T junction that crosses Stafford Creek to the left and a right-hand trail that turns away from the creek. You can refill your water bottle here (you will filter the water), and consider reapplying sunscreen. The trail is very exposed trail and there’s more of the same ahead of you.
You will continue on the right-hand trail, (the one that heads away from the creek) and begin switch backing uphill. The ponderosa pine, yarrow, and sun-warmed earth will leave you with wonderful impressions at this point in the trail.
Five miles in you will reach a large meadow, where there may be tents dotting the ground. Due to the nearby stream, this is a popular camping area, and people make base camp here for long weekends in the Teanaway including: cross-country hiking, ridgeline wandering, and peak-bagging. But this lush meadow doesn’t mark the end of your hike. You have just a bit further on before reaching the pass.
Wind around the right-hand edge of the campground and head up, crossing the stream and entering a moonscape of dark gray granite mixed in with green serpentine, the signature rock of this area. At this point in the trail if you look west you will see Earl Peak.
Continue through the rocky fields for less than a mile and follow the trail across a small alpine glade to your destination. At the pass Mount Stuart will jut into the sky directly in front of you, along with the rest of the Stuart Range. Looking east you will see spectacular views of the Ingalls Creek Valley.
Navaho Peak promises even better vantage points of this area, but it is a steep mile to the summit.
- Round Trip Mileage: 11 Miles
- Hiking Time: 5 Hours (2.5miles per hour is a moderate pass)
- High Point: 6,000 feet
- Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet (gain is fairly continuous
- Hiking Times: Mid-June through October
- Green Trails Map: Map No. 209 Mt. Stuart
- Conditions Information: Cle Elum Ranger District (509) 852-1100
- Morning Coffee: I recommend Pioneer Coffee Roasting Company in Cle Elum (You’re going to enjoy this)
Additional Navaho Pass & Navaho Peak Information
A Northwest Trailhead Park Pass is required to park at Stafford Creek trailhead. Alpine Lakes Wilderness permits are also required and are available at the trailhead on a self-service basis.
There is a lovely camp located about 3.5 miles up the trail. The ground is dry, and there is a wonderful water source in the form of a mini-waterfall, but it is adjacent to a marsh which can be the source of bugs in season. Camping opportunities here are limited due to the dry nature of this area.
The closest year-round Forest Service ranger station is in Cle Elum:
Cle Elum Ranger District
West 2nd Street
Cle Elum, WA 98922
From Seattle you will take I-90 East until you reach exit 85 for East Cle Elum. Cross the freeway on the overpass and turn right onto Hwy 970; cross the Teanaway River Bridge, and in one mile turn left onto Teanaway Road. You will proceed on Teanaway Road bearing right where it becomes the North Fork Teanaway Road, followed shortly by unpaved Forest Road 9737 at 29 Pines Campground. At the first junction after crossing the bridge over Stafford Creek, you will turn right onto FR-9703, which has signage for Stafford Creek; drive 2.5 miles to the Stafford Creek trailhead.
There is parking lot for about 20 cars, parking is also allowed on the road. A toilet (rustic) is available at the trailhead, as are daily Northwest Forest Passes.
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Flickr – Navaho Pass & Navaho Peak Photos
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