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Loomis State Forest: Hike Washington’s Cascade Secret

Hike to the edge of the Cascade Range in this forgotten corner of the Washington wilderness.

Expedition Planner: Loomis State Forest, Washington

DRIVE TIME: Loomis State Forest is 3 1/2 hours (200 miles) northwest of Spokane.

THE WAY: From Tonasket, at the junction of US 97 and WA 20, go north and west on County Roads 9437 and 9425 to the town of Loomis. Drive west on Forest Service Road 39 for 10 miles to DNR T-1000 (Nine Mile Creek Road), then go north to Cold Springs Campground and the trailhead.

TRAILS: Developed trails are poorly marked. Link the Chopaka Mountain and Snowshoe Meadow Trails for a 15-mile round-trip hike into the heart of the Loomis backcountry. From Snowshoe Meadow (a good basecamp), it’s another 5.5 miles into the spectacular Horseshoe Basin of the adjacent Pasayten Wilderness.

DAYHIKE: For an 8-mile round-trip hike, follow the old sheep drive trail from Cold Springs Campground to the summit called Disappointment for a view of Palmer Lake and British Columbia’s Snowy Mountain.

ELEVATION: The Loomis ranges from about 5,500 feet along valley bottoms to a shade under 8,000 feet at the peaks. The open summit of the

7,823-foot Snowshoe Mountain is an easy scramble.

CAN’T MISS: The view of nearly all of Loomis State Forest from the summit of Disappointment (shown on maps as Peak 7160, just west of Chopaka Mountain).

CROWD CONTROL: Late fall attracts a handful of hunters, but otherwise, you’re on your own.

GUIDES: Green Trails map No. 21 Horseshoe Basin is the best for hiking (206-546-6277; www.greentrails.com; $4).

WALK SOFTLY: The summits of Chopaka Mountain, Joe Mills Mountain, and Hurley Peak are part of a state nature preserve and off-limits to protect rare alpine flora.

CONTACT: Washington State Department of Natural Resources, (509) 684-7474; www.wa.gov/dnr.

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