This hike is a great challenge. The first creek crossing in the video is a...
A rugged alpine basin in the heart of the Cascades, Gothic Basin gives out the views like it's going out of style to be magnificent. Put this on your list and go as soon as possible.
Start your trek at the metal gate (south side of highway) along an old gravel road that runs beside the South Fork Sauk River. Nearly untamed for over twenty years now, the road has seen some serious damage from the river, and thus you'll find yourself zigzagging in and out of the forest on occasion to stay on route.
At one mile you'll hit a pit toilet and big signage for the Weden Creek Trail. This is your destiny. Head right about one-hundred yards past the sign and begin hiking through the recovering forest with purpose. Cross a small stream at about 1.75 miles – prepare to get your feet wet if running high – and continue on to the series of switchbacks that begin just over 2.0 miles in. Let the fun begin.
You'll climb steeply for the next 1.25 miles until you arrive at your first major waterfall crossing. This is a potentially dangerous crossing if snow-covered, so use caution and make a good decision on how to get across. Watch the video to know what you can expect to see.
Continue onward and upward, although a bit more gently then before. You'll cross at the base of three more waterfalls – use extreme caution here as well – and be treated to your first views looking south. Gorgeous. From here on out, the trail is rough, rocky, and lined with thick brush. It can be hard to follow in shoulder seasons, but in the summer you'll likely find either a trail or bootpath to follow as you ascend the final mile to the basin.
Although you could probably debate the point at which you actually enter Gothic Basin, you'll definitely know you've arrived when you reach a small tarn (sometimes referred to as Little Foggy Lake) at about 4.25 miles. Take a break if you like, but there's plenty of exploring left, and the views only get better the higher you go.
The main destination of the basin is Foggy Lake (5,226'), which lies about a half-mile northwest of the tarn. We followed Weden Creek (the outlet for Foggy Lake) to get there. At Foggy Lake, you'll be rewarded with a granite-lined alpine lake flanked by two impressive rocky peaks: Gothic Peak (on the left) and Del Campo Peak (on the right).
Del Campo is the higher of the two at 6,600', and both are fair game for a serious scramble. However, only attempt to climb these peaks if you are an experienced climber or are with an experienced climber. No technical gear is required, but falls from either could be fatal. Make good choices.
With all there is to do and see in Gothic Basin you may want to consider an overnight trip. Either way, enjoy the views, water, and meadows, but be sure to practice minimal impact hiking and camping. Tread lightly and pack it all out.
Permits & Tips
Northwest Forest Pass required. Pit toilet available at parking lot and Weden Creek trailhead. Overnight camping is allowed. Be prepared for snow to cover the trail as late as August. Road closes with heavy snowfall. Stop-in or call the Verlot Public Service Center for maps, trail conditions and camping inquiries.
How to get there
Head North on I-5 to Exit 194 and merge onto US-2 E.
After two miles, exit left onto WA-204.
Stay on WA-204 for two miles to Highway 9. Take the left onto Highway 9 toward Lake Stevens.
Turn right onto WA-92 to Granite Falls.
In Granite Falls, turn left onto N Alder Ave and continue onto the Mountain Loop Highway.
You'll hit the Verlot Public Service Center (get your maps and passes) in 11 miles, and the trailhead is 20 miles further, right before the paved road turns to gravel at Barlow Pass. Parking lot is on left, clearly signed, or you may park along the road. Trailhead begins at the gate on the right side of the road.