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Gothic Basin [Mountain Loop Highway]

I'm a very slow hiker..I take a lot of pictures and I do not rush!!!

It's ok to split up into faster and slower groups but NOBODY will be left alone!


Roundtrip: 9.0 miles Elevation Gain 2840' Highest Point: 5200'

my cell phone:[masked]


Do not leave valuables in your cars


PLEASE...ONLY RSVP "YES"..we don't need to know you aren't joining us..NO DOGS, PLEASE...$20 for gas and the wear and tear on the driver's car.

(pictured: Gothic Basin)

We will be moving at a very slow pace so we can enjoy the hike, catch our breath and take pictures.

Have your 10 essentials and rain gear just in case. NO COTTON, NO JEANS...The road was closed last year but I believe it's open again last I heard.

Gothic Basin (#724)

Rugged and spectacular-yes. Gothic, perhaps, for this stark and mysterious basin harbors hidden tarns and disappearing waterways and is surrounded by spiraling peaks. A difficult hike on steep and rocky terrain, Gothic Basin with all its rich beauty can't keep hikers away; just as it couldn't keep miners away a century ago with its lure of riches. It was those hardy folk who built this path. It has been upgraded since-somewhat. The splendor of the basin, however, can't be improved one bit. Past glaciers and the agents of erosion have left it pretty darn near to perfect.

Start by hiking the Monte Cristo Road. This 4-mile connection to the now-defunct mining town of Monte Cristo has been permanently closed to vehicles (but for a few landowners and others) since December 1980, when the South Fork Sauk River severed it. Volunteers have since restored the road, making it at least passable to bicycles and pedestrians. But the river hasn't given up trying to put the road to rest.

After 1 mile of easy road rambling, reach the trailhead for Gothic Basin (Weden Creek Trail No. 724) just before the Twin Bridges (elev. 2350 ft). The trail takes off into old-growth timber paralleling the South Fork Sauk, coming to a tributary of Weden Creek (elev. 2450 ft) in about 0.6 mile. The crossing can be tricky in high water. From this point forward, the trail gets down to business, following much of the original miners route.

Climbing steeply up a slope shrouded in scrappy forest, you gain elevation rapidly. After 1 mile of serious ascending, the trail breaks out onto a spectacular ledge complete with waterfall crashing down a cleft (elev. 3900 ft). In early summer, lingering snow can make crossing this cleft dangerous.

With views opening up to the Monte Cristo melange of mountains, continue upward. Cross two more clefts complete with cataracts-two more potentially dangerous areas if snow-covered. Encountering rockier and brushier terrain, the way grows more difficult. Pause to admire some impressive yellow cedars including a "four-trunked" monster.

More creek crossings and a few ledges requiring help from your hands stagger your pace. Pass ruins of the Consolidated Mine. Ore was transported to the valley floor via a tramway. Contemplate the tenacity of the hardscrabble folk who looked to this rugged environment for their paychecks.

Make the final push to the basin over scoured rocks and ledges and through heathered meadows. Be sure to look back at the jagged skyline with prominent Mount Pugh and Sloan Peak standing out. At about 4 miles from Barlow Pass, the trail ends at a small tarn (elev. 4900 ft). Explorations, however, have only just begun.

Following sketchy tread northwest to ledges and polished rock, you can make your way another 0.5 mile to Foggy Lake (elev. 5200 ft). Flanked by Gothic and Del Campo peaks and denuded of any shoreline vegetation, Foggy is a starkly beautiful alpine lake. Scout the nooks and knolls surrounding it. However, while this area is indeed a harsh environment, it is also fragile. Meadows can't withstand a constant onslaught of boots. Stick to ledge and rock in your wanderings as you're enjoying this wild landscape.

Driving Directions:
From Granite Falls follow the Mountain Loop Highway east for 31 miles to Barlow Pass and park there (elev. 2360 ft). Privy available.


Disclaimer: Trailside is not a professional guide service. Our leaders function, as facilitators only, to enhance your outdoor experience. Reports of trail and weather conditions are based on best available information, are subject to change, and are no guarantee of fitness for any particular purpose or appropriate for a certain fitness level. You may join us on this hike at your own risk. Keep in mind that hiking involves risks and weather changes quickly in the mountains. You are responsible for your own safety and the more prepared you are, the better the chance you will remain safe.

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  • Monika

    It was great to meet everyone, special thanks to Lorri for being an awesome organizer!

    August 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This is a strenuous but awesome hike

    August 4, 2013

3 went

  • A former member
  • A former member

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