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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA: Mount Stuart via Cascadian Couloir

Scramble a sneak route to the highest mountain in the Enchantment Range on this challenging, 11.3-mile out-and-back in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Rating

To live in Seattle is to have an embarrassment of life-list mountains within a few hours of your door. But only Mt. Stuart couples both the alpine rewards of high-profile peaks like Adams and Rainier with the solitude that most hikers only experience on weeklong trips.

This summit rises more than 5,000 feet from the surrounding terrain, testing quads and lungs alike—but you won’t need to rope up or pack crampons. Stuart is the highest mountain in the Enchantment Range, overlooking the entire Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Some speculate that it’s the largest chunk of exposed granite in the United States. Bonus: You’ll be able to see your entire summit-day climb from the hike in.

From the Esmeralda trailhead, hike the Ingalls Way Trail past several small waterfalls up switchbacks to 6,200-foot Longs Pass at 2.5 miles, then descend a rocky climbers’ trail to Ingalls Creek. Cross the creek and find the Ingalls Creek Trail, which parallels the stream. Head southeast along the creek a short distance to a small meadow on the left to set up camp.

Locate the faint climbers’ trail heading northeast before settling in for the night (it can be tricky to find via headlamp during your alpine start). It leads to the Cascadian Couloir climbing route. Mountain goats may mingle with you on your way up the rocky terrain in the class 3, 3,500-vertical-foot, 30-degree couloir. At the top of the chute, continue up talus to a notch east of a false summit. Pick your way across the ridge and up a slab to the summit. Pack a helmet—rockfall (usually goat-triggered) is common.

GUIDEBOOK Climbing Washington’s Mountains, by Jeff Smoot ($30, falcon.com)

PERMITS Required (free at trailhead register). A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead (800) 270-7504, naturenw.org

CONTACT (509) 852-1100; fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/cle-elum-wilderness

-Mapped by Kevin Goodenough and Ryan Goodenough

To Trailhead

Take I-90 past Cle Elum to exit 85. Head east on WA 970 for 6 miles, turn left onto Teanaway Rd. Follow Teanaway Rd. for 13 miles to a fork, then bear right onto FS 9737. Go 9.5 miles to the trailhead.

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