Hike description: If you've ever wondered what's under all of the snow that turns Crystal Mountain into a skier's delight in the winter, you'll want to check out this hike.
You’ll be following four trails: No. 1192 Silver Creek Trail, No. 1163 Crystal Mountain Trail, No. 2000 PCT and No. 1156 Bullion Basin Trail Loop. Starting from where you parked the car, follow (heading south) the extension of the Forest Service road to the Silver Creek Trailhead (near the ski slopes).
Cross (heading east) the ski slope to the forest, then cross a creek on a bridge near an old mine adit. ( Resist the temptation to explore this mine entrance.)
The trail climbs steeply through cool forest and reaches the old mining settlement site for Jim Town at 1.7 miles. Turn right onto the Crystal Mountain Trail to Hen Skin Lake (0.6 miles).
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The Crystal Mountain Trail climbs and dips through forest and clearing until it reaches the Hen Skin Lake basin. There are many social trails in the area; follow the main trail.
The Hen Skin Lake Trail (0.7 miles) will take you up to Bear Gap from here. Bear Gap is a main junction point in the area, with five trails meeting there. (One trail drops down to Fog City, an old mining camp site with road access from Highway 410.)
From Bear Gap, take Trail 2000, aka the Pacific Crest Trail, north 1.1 miles to Pickhandle Gap and continue on trail No. 2000 to the junction with Trail No. 1156.
Take Trail No. 1156 around Bullion Basin and back to where you first picked up the trail.
Directions: Drive state Route 410 to Crystal Mountain Boulevard and head north to Crystal Mountain Resort. Park near the chapel.
Find the trail east of the chapel and follow it up the slope to an abandoned road. Follow old road to Forest Road 7190-410.
If you have a 4x4 vehicle with low gears, you can drive the forest road, but it is steep and narrow, and parking is limited.
Difficulty rating: 3 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 8 Elevation: 2,044 feet
Best time of year: July to October
Map: GT 271 Bumping Lake
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass
Also: Know that you could be sharing the trails with mountain bikes (on the Silver Creek and Crystal Mountain Trails) and with equestrians (horses are allowed on all trails).
Carry plenty of water or bring water purification tablets or filters. Practice Leave No Trace travel and pack out all your own trash.
Always carry the 10 Essentials on all wilderness travel.
This area is open to hunters; wear red or orange when hiking in October during hunting season.
Info: Contact the ranger station for current trail and road conditions. www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs ; Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest Enumclaw Ranger Office 360-825-6585 ; “100 Hikes in Washington’s South Cascades and Olympics,” Mountaineers Book.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.theolympian.com/hiking