Tatoosh Saddle Hike

Whew! Hot, hot, hot, black flies galore, and 2,600 feet of elevation gain in two miles of hiking/climbing. By the time I had reached the alpine area I was bushed. Having never hiked in the Tatoosh Wilderness, I didn’t know what to expect. But, let me start at the beginning.

In July a few years ago, I began a seven day trip to Central Washington, two days in Yakima and the remainder in Twisp. On the way to Yakima via White Pass, I turned north at Packwood for about 11 miles to the Tatoosh Trailhead at 2,900 feet of elevation. The Trail began rather easily with no hint of what was about to come. Soon the Trail began ascending steeply up the canyon wall of Butler Creek and did not stop until reaching a signpost at 5,500 feet, only two miles from the Trailhead. By that time the forest had been left behind and I was in a beautiful alpine area with wildflowers in rampant bloom. I spent the next few hours exploring. 

My first destination was Tatoosh Saddle above Tatoosh Lakes, providing an unparalleled view of Mt. Rainier. The summit was only 11 airmiles to the north. After a short rest I returned to the signpost and headed south through the alpine meadows, eventually reaching a nice viewpoint over the Cowlitz River Valley. Then it was time to begin the trek back to the car and continue my journey to Yakima. All in all the hike was 7 1/2 miles in length with 3,200 feet of elevation gain.

Downtown Packwood on the White Pass Highway (Mt. Rainier is 15 crow-flying miles to the north)

Views from the upper alpine meadows

Tiger Lily, Paintbrush and Candystick

My blue daypack at Tatoosh Saddle

Hanging glacier

Trail passing through a wildflower covered sub-alpine meadow

Summit of Mt. Rainier from Tatoosh Saddle

Avalanche Lily, Spotted Coralroot Orchid and Beargrass

A long and hazy look down to the Cowlitz River Valley

Old Men of the Mountain and Pasque Flowers

Summit of Mt. Rainier

Early morning at the Trailhead

Almost to Tatoosh Saddle


Categories: Washington Cascades HikesTags: ,

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