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Stampede Pass Adventure Route

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

The Northern Cascades are filled with glaciated peaks and valleys, lush meadows and ancient forests. There's a reason these temperates rain forests have been attracting outdoor recretionists for hundreds of years. Want to experience some of the most iconic landscapes in the Washington Cascades? Then it sounds like you need to explore the Stampede Pass Adventure Route.

Route Overview

Adventure Rating: Epic

Trip Length: 250 miles / 4-8 days

Season: June - October (we recommend checking snow levels with Gaia GPS' NOAA Snow depth layer)

Avg Technical Rating: 2

Peak Technical Rating: 4

Typical Terrain: Gravel roads, dirt forest roads, some bumpier, steep and loose tracks with rocks, and a small amount of pavement.

Recommended Vehicle: Stock 4x4 Recommended Gear: n/a

Adventure Vans: Yes! Sprinter 4x4s should be able to manage the main route.

Alternative Routes: Yes! See the bottom of route guide for more details. Permits: n/a

 

Route Details


The Washington Cascades, and particularly the Northern Cascades (north of Mt Rainier), is a land filled with glacier-covered peaks, volcanic peaks and bluffs, ancient forests separated by mountain meadows exploding with the vibrance of wildflowers. The majority of the route passes through the Mt Baker-Snoqualamie and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, which happens to be home to some of the snowiest locations in North America. Mt Baker and Mt Rainier have both recorded annual snowfall in excess of 1,000 inches, and regularly record more than 500 inches per year. Like much of the the Cascades, the rugged mountain peaks and high Cascades create orographic lift, which translates to high amounts of precipitation on the western Pacific-facing slopes. While the eastern slopes are effectively a rain shadow. It's not uncommon for some western slopes to see 10x the amount of precipitation in comparison to slopes and valleys within the eastern rain shadow. Stampede Pass (really a network of trails and roads) and Bethel Ridge have long been popular with the off road and overlanding crowd for a number of years. Our goal was to link this two spectacular routes into a longer, multi-day adventure that showcases spectacular views of Mt Rainier and the surrounding Cascades, while highlighting historical, geological, and natural waypoints along the way. And oh yah, for those that have a penchant for more technical trails, you'll be delighted to learn the route features a number of more technical alternative routes, but this is really just scratching the surface. Various areas, like the Manastash Ridge and Lake area feature extensive OHV trail networks best suited for short wheelbase, modified 4x4s. The Stampede Pass Adventure Route is an asymmetrical loop, that can be driven in either direction, and you may start at any point you like. For the sake of this guide, we begin our adventure at the Tieton River, the first of 19 discovery points. The route quickly ascends through a series of switchbacks until reaching Bethel Ridge (DP2). The loose and steep track parallels the rugged bluffs of Bethel Ridge, which showcases impressive views of Mt Rainier and the surrounding landscape. Sprinter 4x4s should be able to manage the ridge, but those seeking a more mild mannered trail (with less impressive views) may wish to take the alternative track around Bethel Ridge (see alternative routes below). The track drops down to the pavement of highway 410 for a few miles paralleling the Naches River (DP3). Take note of the surrounding flora, particularly to the east. You can see the distinct rain shadow all around you, which is relatively easy to distinguish from the emerald covered mountain slopes to the west.


The track meanders through forest and over ridges, but you'll want to be sure to make a stop at Bald Mountain Lookout DP4. Those wishing for more technical trails will want to check the alternative routes section for the Mud Springs 4x4 track (more awesome views!). The route drops back down and crosses the Bumping River (DP6). A short drive south along the highway, the Boulder Caves (DP7) provide a nice excuse to get out of the vehicle and do some exploration on foot (a short 1.2 mile out-and-back hike). From Boulder Caves, your next destination is another spectacular vista-- this time the Raven Roost Viewpoint (DP8). After taking in the awesome views of Raven Roost, retrace your tracks down to the canyon floor, and follow the pavement of FR 70 for several miles before jumping back onto dirt, into the dense emerald forests.


These forests and mountains are filled with mountains streams, brooks, and rivers, the next of which you'll be crossing is the Greenwater River (DP10), not to be confused with the Green River! Once you cross the Greewater, you're effectively on the network of trails and roads that locals refer to as Stampede Pass, although the actual Stampede Pass (DP14) is still several miles to the east. The Stampede Pass section is comprised of relatively mild mannered dirt roads, but the views are incredible. If you want to take those views to the next level, we strongly encourage you to head the Kelly Butte Trail. The 3 mile hike (roundtrip) brings you to the Kelly Butte Lookout tower, which probably has some of the best (if not the best) views along the entire route. Take your time as you traverse Stampede Pass. One can easily complete the route in a couple of hours, but because the scenery is that impressive, we recommended spending at least half a day driving and exploring this portion of the route. Stampede Pass crosses the Yakima River (DP15) and dumps onto Interstate 90, which you'll follow several miles south into the Cle Elum Valley. If you don't have a long range tank, now would be a good time to top off with fuel. A mile or so shy of Cle Elum, you'll begin working your way back into the wilderness, yet again. While the overall elevation is less impressive compared to some of the other vista points, we still recommend making the short drive out to Peoh Point Vista (DP17), which overlooks the Cle Elum Valley to the east. Head up Quartz Mountain (DP18) for more views. If you don't want to make this and out-and-back, you can extend the trail by taking Manastash Ridge Track (see the alternative routes section). The Manastash Ridge and Lake area features numerous OHV trails, ranging from tame to rowdy. The final leg of the track follows Barber Springs Road (more views!), until the track reaches its official terminus at the Naches River along highway 410.

Alternative Routes Bethel Ridge Alternate Route

Peak Technical Rating: 1-2

Recommended Vehicle: Subaru If you wish to skip the steep, rocky and loose Bethel Ridge, you can take the alternative reroute. Just keep in mind, you'll be missing out on the views that Bethel Ridge is famous for. Mud Springs 4x4 Track (Trail 696) Peak Technical Rating: 4

Recommend Vehicle: Stock 4x4. Full size trucks may have difficulty navigating this trail (very tight in spots).

Looking to take the scenic route to Clover Springs Viewpoint? If you don't mind a few bumps along the way, the Mud Springs Jeep trail is a fantastic option, with views atop a bluff looking west. Expect to be slow going, but it'll be fun!


Naches Pass (Trail 684) Peak Technical Rating: 3

Recommend Vehicle: Stock 4x4.

This 5 mile portion of Naches Pass follows a section of old wagon trail. The Forest Service describes it as a fun trail, geared towards beginners.

Manastash Ridge to Funny Rocks Peak Technical Rating: 5-6

Recommend Vehicle: High clearance 4x4, full size vehicles not recommended (very tight through trees). This is the most technical track along the route, and connects with a greater network of OHV trails in the Manastash Ridge Area. Popular destinations along this track include Funny Rocks and Moon Rocks. One could easily spend a couple of days exploring the various trails around Manastash Ridge. This area is popular with the modified jeep crowd.


Camping Recommendations

The Mt Baker-Snoqualamie National Forest and surrounding lands are filled with tons of fantastic dispersed campsites. Keep in mind, that some areas do see a lot of usage on weekends. Some of our favorite places to camp include:

  • Bethel Ridge (eastern end)

  • Clover Spring Viewpoint area

  • Naches Trail/Pass area (trail 684)

  • Diserpsed camping atop the ridge and west of Icewater Creek campground

  • Barber Springs Road (numerous places to dispersed camp)


Discovery Points

  • DP1 - Tieton River

  • DP2 - Bethel Ridge

  • DP3 - Naches River

  • DP4 - Little Bald Mountain Lookout

  • DP5 - Clover Spring Viewpoint

  • DP6 - Bumping River

  • DP7 - Boulder Caves

  • DP8 - Raven Roost Viewpoint

  • DP9 - Salmon Falls Interpretive Site

  • DP10 - Greenwater River

  • DP11 - Kelly Butte Lookout

  • DP12 - Mt Rainier Viewpoint

  • DP13 - Green River

  • DP14 - Stampede Pass

  • DP15 - Yakima River

  • DP16 - Kaches Lake

  • DP17 - Peoh Point Vista

  • DP18 - Quartz Mountain Lookout

  • DP19 - Barber Springs Road

 

Maps + Navigation


Digital Mapping Files / Download Page



 

Resources


Land Managers

Other Resources

  • n/a

 

Gallery



Terms of Use: Should you decide to travel a route that is published on Overlandtrailguides.com, you do so at your own risk. Always take the appropriate precautions when planning and traveling, including checking the current local weather, permit requirements, trail/road conditions, and land/road closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, and carry the appropriate safety, recovery, and navigational equipment. The information found on this site is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by Overland Trail Guides, the route accuracy and current conditions of roads and trails cannot be guaranteed.




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