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Hike of the Week for Friday, September 10, 2010

Deception Creek

Big trees, wilderness valley, no crowds — and that’s the truth!

Article and photo by Craig Romano

Deception Creek
A hiker admires cascading Deception Creek.

Quick Facts

Location: Skykomish River Valley

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 10.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet

Notes: Northwest Forest Pass required; Dogs permitted on leash.

Contact: Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest; (360) 677-2414; www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs

Green Trails Map: Stevens Pass-No. 176

Access: From Everett drive US 2 east to the small city of Skykomish. Continue for another 8.0 miles turning right onto FR 6088 (just after Deception Falls). Follow FR 6088 for .4 mile to trailhead.

A perfect hike for an overcast autumn day, venture up a deep valley cloaked in magnificent old-growth forest. One of the finest ancient forest hikes within the entire Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Deception Creek is also one of the least hiked trails in that wilderness. Passed over by hikers preferring mountain summits and alpine lakes, this trail is perfect for those who enjoy solitude, quiet contemplation and big old trees—and of course a gorgeous cascading mountain creek as well!

The trail starts off easy and immediately enters magnificent old-growth forest. Not long afterwards reach an impressive bridge spanning Deception Creek; where big granite ledges granting captivating views of frothy rapids may tempt you to linger. The trail then pulls away from the creek traversing an amazing stand of giant cedars before climbing. After steeply gaining 1,000 feet, come to a crossing of Sawyer Creek.

Once beyond the crashing creek, continue on a more leisurely course. Nearly level and traversing more spectacular old growth the trail eventually reacquaints itself with Deception Creek. Continue past lush flats, coming upon a rocky chasm where Deception Creek tumbles into tiered pools and pothole basins. Farther along, transition to an avalanche-opened area providing views of surrounding slopes and peaks.

Resuming a mellow mood the trail traverses more lush flats complete with impressive primeval trees before reaching a junction just shy of 5.0 miles. The trail right heads to Tonga Ridge; continue left for a few more hundred feet, calling it quits at the confluence of Deception and Fisher Creeks. Sunny gravel bars invite you to kickback and listen to soothing aquatic melodies before making the journey back to the trailhead.

However, if Fisher and Deception can safely be forded, and you’re feeling energetic, you may want to carry on farther up the valley for another 3.5 miles to the Deception Lakes.

For more information on this hike and others in the region, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades Book (Mountaineers). Also — this Hike of the Week is the 300th installment since we began back in 2005. Thanks for your support.

Green Trails Maps

Washington Online Weather

Day Hiking Central Cascades