Try This Trail: Ingalls Creek

Rating: Moderate

Distance: 11 miles round trip

Ingalls Creek drains a vast area of rugged and stunning beauty in one of the largest road-free valleys in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The entire Ingalls Creek Trail goes more than 15 miles up this deep wilderness valley, shadowed by the lofty craggy pinnacles of the Stuart Range, but the trek to Falls Creek makes for a satisfying day hike.

Come in spring and enjoy a trail lined with flowers—paintbrush, lupine, trilliums, glacier lilies, and more. You'll start at the site of a long-gone lodge, and the well-established trail immediately enters a forest of pine and fir. The creek can always be seen or especially heard from the trail; in late spring it can be downright deafening with its crashing cascades.

After two miles the way hugs the creek at a set of rapids before passing beneath granite cliffs. Enjoy window views here to the imposing surrounding summits. After passing a lone giant pine you may see some rusty pipes and debris scattered about. An old mine, perhaps? Next you'll steeply climb to a rocky knoll with an excellent view downstream. Beyond, the way slightly descends to reach Ingalls Creek's confluence with Falls Creek. Go a little farther to the Falls Creek Trail junction in a lush flat of old-growth firs and spruce, then head down to an inviting gravel bar and take a break before returning.

Watch For: Harlequin ducks and dippers in the rapids.

Getting There: Take I-90 east to Cle Elum. Then follow WA 970 east to US 97. Continue north on US 97 for 28 miles, turning west at Milepost 178 onto Ingalls Creek Road. Cross Preshastin Creek, bear left, and continue 1.2 miles to trailhead.

Note: NW Forest Pass Required.

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Craig Romano is the author of nine Washington hiking books, including Day Hiking Central Cascades.

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