Glacier Peak peaking through a hole in the clouds.
Words and photos by Carolyn Griffin-Bugert
This was a fun hike to take in mid-September, as we crossed paths (literally!) with several groups of Pacific Crest Trail through-hikers. It was fun to hear their adventures and feel their excitement as they neared the end of their hike. Of particular note was how many of them were anticipating their next food stop at the Stehekin Bakery. We also surprised two black bears searching berries in the meadows at the top of Cady Ridge. Loud chatter is not a bad idea on this hike.
This loop from Cady Ridge to Cady Creek is about 15.5 miles long and could be an enjoyable overnight hike. We did it as a day hike and chose to hike in a counterclockwise direction. This got us up into the views quickly and, when our feet were tired at the end of the hike, we were on the easiest section of the trail.
Distance and Elevation Gain: The loop is 15.5 mile long and gains 3,000 vertical feet.
Skill: 1+ to 2- (advanced beginner to easy intermediate).
Fitness: 2 (intermediate) as an overnight trip. 3 (advanced as a day trip).
Access: Take Highway 2 to Cole’s Corner (14 miles west of Leavenworth), then follow Highway 207 (Lake Wenatchee Highway) about 4.2 miles and, shortly after crossing the Wenatchee River, go left at a Y. Go another 6 miles along the north shore of Lake Wenatchee and, at the Y with the White River Road, hook left staying on the larger road. Drive roughly 16.5 miles farther heading up the Little Wenatchee River, and following signs for Forest Road 65 and the Little Wenatchee Ford Campground. A Northwest Forest Pass is need to park at this campground where the trailhead is located
- Start on Trail 1501 which heads to Cady Creek. In about half a mile, branch right on Trail 1532 up Cady Ridge. This trail climbs steadily up to and along the ridge. You gain all of your elevation during this section of the trip.
- Continue to the T-intersection with the Pacific Crest trail at mile 6.5.
- Turn left and you’ll reach Lake Sally Ann in 0.4 miles—this is a good camping spot for overnight backpackers because water is scarce along the ridge. Turn right at the T-intersection and you’ll reach Ward Pass in 0.4 miles. That will head you toward the Cady-Ridge-to-Meander-Meadows Loop (an alternate loop trip).
- To complete this loop, follow the Pacific Crest Trail south to Cady Pass (another 4.3 miles). This stretch is beautiful high country with lots of exposed rocks and expansive views. Here is your opportunity to run into PCT through-hikers heading north.
- At Cady Pass, turn onto trail 1501 (Cady Creek). Once the trail drops off the ridge, it follows Cady Creek a total of 4.7 miles through the forest and back to the intersection with Cady Ridge. The trail in September had plenty of muddy spots and small creek crossings.
- At the intersection with the Cady Ridge trail stay on trail 1501 and continue back to the trailhead, another 0.5 miles.
Maps. See our topo map of the hike.
Permits. No permits are required to hike but a Northwest Forest Pass is needed to park at the trailhead.
More Info: For more information and, possibly, an updated condition report, see the Washington Trail Association (WTA) trail report about this hike.
Trip Reporter: Carolyn Griffin-Bugert and her trusty pal, Bob Bugert. September 11, 2010.
Leave It Better Than You Found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route. You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.