Attractions: A pleasant, relatively private area providing pretty views over the Blewett Pass environs and a destination for all types of snow play (light touring, snowshoeing, telemark skiing and ski touring). A Forest Service Road provides an easy route for touring uphill and climbs pleasant east-facing slopes, studded with ponderosa pines, that intermediate ski tourers and telemarkers will enjoy skiing down. The trailhead is quite low on the Blewett Pass Highway, making this a tour that folks from the Lower Valley can access much more quickly than tours up Highway 2 or up the Icicle River Road.
View Map: Our map is a 8.5’x11” landscape (see below). Note: use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to check your page setup and to properly scale this map to a full sheet of paper.
Activity: General touring, telemark skiing, ski touring, snowshoeing
Nearest Town: Blewett Pass Area
Skill Level: 2-intermediate
Fitness Level: 2-intermediate
Distance: Round-trip distance of 7 miles if you ski past Culver Springs to Point 4,410’ and 9.5 miles if you ski up to Peaklet 5,242 feet.
Elevation Gain: 2,000 to 2,800 feet depending on your destination.
Recommended Season: Winter. The start of this area is relatively low and gets snow later and loses its snow earlier so in most years it is not a good early-winter or springtime destination.
Access: At the Y junction (intersection of highways 2 and 97) several miles east of Leavenworth, drive south on Highway 97 toward Blewett Pass. About 11.75 miles from the Y junction at Milepost 173, turn right into a small plowed area on the right. A sign on the left says King Creek. This is an easy trailhead to miss because the parking area is small and comes just after a curve. If you end up missing it and seeing the signs for Old Blewett Pass, you’ve gone too far (south) up the pass.
- From the trailhead (2,440 feet) follow the road as it parallels the highway for a few hundred yards before it heads uphill in a generally westward direction.
- After 0.65 miles you’ll reach an intersection where you’ll want to hook right and take the road that climbs steeper. (Going straight takes you on a road that is flatter crosses King Creek and heads in a more southerly direction—explore it if you want to add mileage to your outing).
- Over the next mile, a few spur roads will branch off the switchbacking road you’re climbing. These spurs all intersect at switchbacks and all contour at flatter angles. Always take the road that switches back and climbs more steeply.
- About 2.1 mile from the start and at an elevation of 3,540’, the road comes into the creek drainage. Depending on what the snowmobiles have been doing, it may look like you should cross the creek and contour. Don’t cross the creek. Instead head uphill paralleling the right side of the drainage for 50 or 60 yards and then take a switchback to the right.
- Over the next half mile a few more spurs take off from the main road—always take the road that climbs more steeply.
- About 2.5 miles from the start (elevation 3,810’), the road crosses a little saddle in the ridge.
- Over the next mile, the road climbs and then contours past Culver Spring before reaching a broad bench in the ridge confining the Culver Springs Creek. If you’re on general touring equipment (e.g., lightweight skis and boots, mainly suited to roads) this is the turnaround point.
- Skiers with stouter gear (and snowshoers) can follow the ridge in a southwesterly direction for another 1.25 miles to a little peaklet (5,242 feet) with great views over the surrounding hills and crags.
- For the return, retrace the route or use our descent arrows.
Cons / Hazards: The start of this area is relatively low so the ski season here (especially the off-road skiing) is short.
- Make an inexpensive pair of skiiny skins.
- Ski tourers on heavier gear who ski the descent routes (arrows) shown on our map should keep the thin snowpack in mind and control their speed (telemarkers might also consider knee pads).
- Avalanche hazard is generally low through here, but ski tourers still need to know how to evaluate the hazard and should be prepared with the appropriate tools (beacon, shovel, probe).
Uses Allowed: Skis, snowshoes, snowmobiles.
Land Ownership: Forest Service higher up. Private mining claims and private land flank the first few miles of travel up the road.
Fees/Permits Needed: None needed.
First Report by: Andy Dappen, February 2008
Update as of February 2017: We have learned that all of Section 11 in the King Creek drainage is privately owned. Road easements allow walkers, mountain bikers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and ski tourers to use the Forest Service Road through Section 11. However, recreationalists are trespassing if they leave the road anywhere within Section 11. This means our map showing a ski route down a southeastern ridge is in error — stay on the road here.
All sections of land surrounding Section 11 are Forest Service properties and you can walk, snowshoe, or ski off-road on Forest Service lands. Consequently you can reach the summit of Peak 5,242 (a nice objective) as noted on our map.
Leave It Better Than You found It: This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash others have left behind, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse fire rings found at campsites (they encourage more fires), throw logs and branches over spur trails and spurs between switchbacks (make it harder to do the wrong thing than the right thing).
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Things change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes, fail to give complete information, or may not know all the issues affecting a route. So forget about finger pointing: If things go wrong, you are completely responsible for yourself and your actions. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.