Central Cascades |Okanagan-Wenatchee National Forest
10.3 miles, roundtrip
(This is from what we recorded on a Garmin Fenix 6x)
Gain: 4239 ft.
Highest Point: 6431 ft.
Nestled in the Central Cascades and hiding across a river crossing, Little Giant Pass is a butt-kicker of a hike that takes you up 4000ft in elevation over 5 miles.
Every year there is about a 2 week window where the Fall colors are perfect at Little Giant Pass. Out of all the places in Washington we have visited so far, LBP has the best colors we've seen in this state.
The hike is a gateway to some really neat backpacking loops in this area as well, so there is much more to do than just see the Fall colors.
The trailhead is located somewhat near Lake Wenatchee, down Forest Road 62. This road gets really narrow which can make it a pain when lots of cars are trying to get through, so plan accordingly. Luckily, the trailhead is before you get to the nasty potholes on the road.
Right away we recommend throwing on sandals because within the first 2 minutes you'll be crossing a stream. Depending on the time of year, this stream can be waist deep to only knee deep. Right after the crossing, you'll punch straight through the bushes to discover the trail to take.
For the next 3 miles, you'll gradually gain about 2000' in elevation. There will be some hints of Fall colors, but nothing like at the pass. There is another small creek to cross before you reach the meadows.
Climbing to Little Giant Pass
Once you pop out of the trees and into the meadows full of slide alders and huckleberry plants, you can see LGP way up at the top. You will have about 2200' to climb over 2 miles.
After the rock face, the slide alders start to disappear and the colors change rapidly. You have reached the amazing section of this hike! Continue onward as you follow switchbacks that slowly take you to the pass.
As a side note, about 1000' from the pass are some water sources, so bring a filter to refill your bottles if you need to. This section on a sunny day gets hot and drains you pretty fast.
As you reach the top of Little Giant Pass, you have direct views of Clark Mountain and Glacier Peak. Just below you is the Napeequa River as it winds its way through the valley.
You'll notice that the side of the mountain you climbed had the best colors in the surrounding area. The trail can continue from here if you are following a loop, otherwise it is best to return the same way you came.
Click on images below to see a bigger picture
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We really want to encourage everyone to practice LNT principles when they explore these beautiful places. We spent years trying to minimize social impact on these locations, but the cat is out of the bag and these places are easy to find online. So it is our mission to share more about ways to keep these places as pristine as possible.
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