Stampede Pass and Naches: I-90 to 410 – Sept 2016

 It won’t be long before the snows start closing up much of the backcountry here in Washington state so it’s important to to take advantage of the good weather and get out on the trails while you can. It will be a long 4-5 months before many of these trails will be open to any sort of 4×4 vehicle. Many become impassable due to avalanche dangers as well as giving the wildlife some respite from the constant din of people being around.

To that end, after hearing about a new posting on trailsoffroad.com detailing the gpx tracks for the 90 to 410 route, my buddy Dana and I have been focused on exploring this route before the rains come.

We started opposite the instructions on trailsoffroad.com, taking exit 62 south from I90 and immediately began headed through the mountains by way of steep switchbacks that keep weaving beneath some charged, buzzing power lines as it climbed in elevation.

After that, it’s many miles of sun dappled, tree lined forest road, with smooth and gentle curves on FR-52 travelling along side Green River. Following the road around to a sharp right will get one on NF-7036 1, which quickly ascends from 2400″ to nearly 5000″ elevation in just about a mile. There are several overlooks that face north/east towards Mt Stuart and the surrounding Enchantment peaks.

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panorama Cascades and Mt. Stuart
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Cascade Mountains

NF-7036 continues along a ridge line with vast views on both sides plus several stunning vistas of Mt. Rainier.

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Mt. Rainier

This is a great day run trail. Lots of fun, smooth, cliff-hanger dirt track to explore, plenty of stunning views and places for overnight camping. The route is straightforward and suitable for most stock 4×4.

As we got near the end of the trail we made a wrong turn…and that lead us down Naches Trail proper. (No photos or video: they all died/ran out of capacity). This was more technical than was expected but it was a very fun: deep ruts with roots, wood bridges and tight turns. Not really a challenge for anyone who is moderately prepared for off road travel but it will test your flex and your ability to choose the correct line. Watch out for those massive downed trees that juts onto the trail, one wrong move and your truck may slide into one.

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