Mount Logan is listed under the Washington Top 100 and is located in the North Cascades National Park. It is among the top ten non-volcanic peaks over 9,000 feet in Washington state. It also is the 4th highest peak in North Cascades National Park. The mountain is named after George Logan, a miner who had a cabin in the Thunder Creek Vally in the late 1800s.
It has three glaciers on its flanks which are the Banded, Fremont, and the Douglas. Any route to the summit will involve some fourth class rock at the top, the majority of climbers use one of these glaciers. The Logan massif sits on the Cascade crest, with Park and Bridge Creeks flowing East to Lake Chelan, while Thunder Creek flows West and its water ends up in the Skagit River. By far the most common climbing route is the Fremont Glacier route. Because Logan is so remote and surrounded by other peaks such as Goode, Storm King, Black, and Buckner, it is often climbed on the same trip as these other peaks. Mount Logan affords one of the best views of the North Cascades, from Diablo lake to the Boston Glacier, and Glacier Peak to the Pickets as well as much more.
Alpenglow on Mount Logan from the Fremont Glacier
Alpenglow on Logan
Final Snow Section
Above Park Creek Pass
Diablo Lake Reflection
Logan from Fisher Creek
In the city of Stehekin
Keep in mind that there are many variations of where to park for climbing Mount Logan. For easy directions, be sure to view the following links on Google Maps. The standard trailhead is the Colonial Creek Campground via Fremont Glacier route which goes up Thunder Creek. The other trailhead for the Fremont Glacier is near the city of Stehekin (12.5 mile marker). Also here are some directions to Easy Pass which is the trailhead for climbing via the Douglas Glacier. Keep in mind that the current trailhead for the Stehekin side is basically the end of the road rather than what it used to be. As for the google maps, all you have to do is insert your address/location for the directions.
The most noticeable different between the Colonial Creek Trailhead and the Stehekin Trailhead is the fact that the Stehekin route has 6 less miles of hiking each way. Also it is more expensive to get to and is a longer drive (unless you live in Eastern Washington).
Directions to the Colonial Creek Trailhead from Seattle: Drive North on I-5 until you get to Mount Vernon. Get off at exit 230 which take a right onto highway 20 East. Follow Highway 20 all the way until you get to Diablo Lake. This is about 73 miles from Mount Vernon. Enter the West side of Colonial Creek Campground at milepost 130. There are two places to park at. One of the two trailheads for Thunder Creek Trail is on the east end of the campground near the restrooms. The other trailhead is right off highway 20 on the other side of the street from Colonial Creek Campground, but this parking lot involves around an extra quarter mile of hiking each way. No fees or permits for parking, just make sure your not parked in a camping spot.
Stehekin Approach - See the boat company's site for ferry schedule. They can also let you know about shuttle bus times. For info on this see LadyoftheLake.com
From Stehekin, take the public shuttle bus ($5 a person) or other vehicle 13.5 miles from the boat dock to the end of the driveable road. Carry and ride a bike (or just walk) up the washed-out road to the Park Creek trailhead. The trailhead is at the 18 mile point on the road. One can also hike 14 miles East from the Cascade Pass trailhead to reach this Park Creek trailhead and campground. Follow the Park Creek trail 8.5 miles to Park Creek Pass. The trail is gradual and in the trees except for steep first and last miles. Camp sites exist at the 2 and 5 mile points.
To climb Logan from the Banded or Douglas Glacier sides, use hwy 20 or the Stehekin Valley and approach into the Fisher Creek or North Fork of Bridge Creek valleys.
Logan with Fremont Glacier
Fremont Glacier: This is to be considered the Standard route by many up Mount Logan. It consists of a long approach, glacier travel, and a class 4 scramble at the end of it. This route had some of the best alpine climbing I've ever had, what one would call a 5 star route. But I will admit that it will not be easy and usually takes between 3 and 4 days to complete.
Douglas Glacier: It may be considered the shortest route to climb Mount Logan but has it's challenges as well which is why it is not the most popular route on Mount Logan.
At the ten mile point on the trail, one could also choose to take the left fork at a trail junction, and head to Easy Pass, which allows access to the Douglas and Banded Glaciers.
Distance: Around 40+ Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain: About 10,000 Feet
Technical Level: Class 3-4 near the Summit Plus Glacier Travel
Time is Usually Takes: 3-4 Days
Rating: 5 Stars, very high quality route!
The hike from Colonial Creek Campground starts out as a well maintained trail that is relatively flat for the first few miles of travel. Although eventually you gain around 6,000 feet of elevation to Park Creek Pass, a good majority of the trail is flat or lightly going up the side of a mountain. Be warned that the trail to Park Creek Pass is monotonous and does not offer much mountain views until your 16 miles in due to it being covered up by thick forests.
Walking through the Forest
After hiking 1.5 miles of the Thunder Creek trail, you reach one of the many bridge crossings on your way to Mount Logan. After crossing the bridge the trail then mildly switch backs up hill for a few minutes, and then goes toward Thunder Creek again. Brace yourself for miles of forest lands, but if your like me, you will enjoy the nice shade that the woods provide. After reaching Tricouni Camp (7 miles in) you encounter a series of switch backs until you get views of Fisher Creek. A Couple miles later from Tricouni Camp you come to "Junction" which is the official halfway point to Park Creek Pass. This is a great place to cook or filter water as well as take a nice breather. There is also a campground near by here.
Tricouni Peak though the Clouds
After Junction you lose 1,000 feet of elevation down the valley, this part makes the trip on the way back more difficult because you have to regain the elevation, and you have to regain it when you go up the next valley. But anyone who is climbing Logan should know that they are in for a challenge. Once you start going up hill again you cross a double logged bridge which is easy for people to travel, but not for horses (people used to bring their horses through here).
Near McAllister Camp
Waterfall on Tricouni
Near Skagit Queen
Depending on how far you plan on going on your first day, there are two good choices for camping. The Skagit Queen or if you feel like going further, Thunder Basin (also known as the Horse Stock Camp). After passing by the Skagit Queen Camp you will soon see to your right an old broken down mining house that was in use over 100 years ago. You will also see an old pipeline that goes right through many of the switch backs you go up. After the many switch backs you are now officially in the same valley at Mount Logan itself. As you go further into the valley, the mountains finally come into view which you can see Logan, Buckner, and perhaps a few others if your lucky. Depending on what time of year you come here you may encounter snow by this point. Even in July there can be a lot of avalanche debris in the valley.
Point 8248 Above
Old Mining Home
Cornice on near by Peak
Eventually the trail ends up crossing Thunder Creek with no bridge, fortunately the water is manageable but would still get you a bit wet. So to avoid this you may be fortunate enough to find a log crossing before encountering this part of the trail. I happened to find one a 100 foot to the left of where the trail traditionally crosses the creek. But I will warn you, I had to edge my way over it.
Log Crossing during July of 2011
After crossing Thunder Creek you are soon in Thunder Basin which in summer time has flowers, wildlife, and bushes that start growing over bits of the trail. Hopefully you get lucky like me and a ranger/trail maintainer comes by and makes traveling through this part a little less bushy. After a few more miles the trail starts switch backing up towards Park Creek Pass. Once the switch backs end, you come onto a boulder field. From here you leave the main path just shy of Park Creek Pass and start heading North East. Now if you want to do a mini side trip for more views, by all means go on over to Park Creek Pass and then head back to the boulder field.
Park Creek Pass as seen in July of 2011
The route now goes North East and up to avoid the trees below. In a sense it kinda curves in a bowl like fashion as you travel. Depending on your luck you may or may not encounter a trail up here. It was snowy when I was here so for me it was hit and miss deal. As you traverse the lower part of Mount Logan, be sure to aim for a set of trees on the minor ridge to the North. You do not want to gain too much elevation here, as long as your in tree line your fine. After crossing over the ridge point it is fine to be above the trees.
Heading into the Basin
Evening on the Mountain
Rising Clouds from Below
Primus Peak Clouded Over
Looking Towards the Route up Mount Logan
Now navigate your way through the Fremont Basin which you do so by heading north and gradually picking up on how far east you go. No matter what way you approach the Fremont Glacier from here, it is hard to get lost on a clear day on this part of the mountain. On the edge of the Fremont Glacier and near Point 8248 there is a great place to pitch your tent, or simply a good place to cook food and filter water.
View from the Edge of the Fremont Glacier
Finally we start getting technical for the climb, on the outer most edge of the Fremont Glacier it is highly recommended that you rope up. When I came though here, my partner and I were completely socked in which made navigation a bit difficult. Whether the weather is bad or not, head literally north east from here. If visibility is poor, head a little more to your right to stay closer to the rock walls. If visibility is fine, it will be quite obvious which way you have to travel to a part of the route people call "The Hogsback". At first glance it is an amazing formation on the mountain which has a almost perfect semi circle going from one edge of the mountain to the other. The part of the Hogsback that is on the left and is the higher one is the main way you want to go. If you reach a rock wall without traveling up this, you are off route.
The Hogsback at the Edge of the Fremont Glacier
Once your off the Hogsback you can ditch the rope (depending on what time of year it is you may be able to ditch crampons and ice axe). Now it is time to starting heading north again (left) which traverses a dicey spot or two. This should be taken with cation. After this you reach a easy scramble that takes you off the west face and onto the south ridge. This spot is not for the faint of heart, if your not used to exposure with some class 3 and 4 scrambling, perhaps this is not for you. But for those of us who climb class 3 and are fine with a bit of exposure, this is quite the treat. Remarkably the rock is incredibly solid with many places to grab onto and great foot holds. Some of the best alpine scrambling I have ever had.
The left side is actually easier here
Much of the ridge traveling your not gaining much elevation until you start getting near the summit. After a few fun scramble spots you now start heading up to the top of the ridge for safer traveling.
Traveling Along the Ridge
You come across at least 1 false summits before obtaining the real summit. At the false summit you have to now carefully descend a class 4 move to get down to the gap between the two summits.
Down Climbing from the False Summit
Once you get down, stay on the eastern side of the ridge which leads you to the final summit scramble which may be considered class 3-4, but with great holds. From here you crawl over to the summit. Congratulations, you earned the moment of success! Now keep in mind that 80% of all mountaineering accidents happen on the way down, so please do be careful while descending the summit ridge.
Enjoying the Summit
Looking Back to the Other Summits
---Alternative Route to the Fremont Glacier---
There is also a variation to getting to Park Creek Pass which is accessed from Stehekin. The hike goes up the Park Creek Pass Trail, which it is 14 miles one way (5.6 less miles than the standard route) to Parks Creek Pass. This route meets up with the Thunder Creek route up the mountain.
Red Tape and Camping
Camping on the Mountain
Backcountry permits are required for camping which you'll most likely need them for a cross-country zone. They can be picked up at the NPS office in Sedro-Wooley, Marblemount or Stehekin. For more information see the National Park Service Website. The Marblemount visitor center can be reached at 206 386-4495 ext.11. A Northwest Forest Pass is not needed for this trip because it is in the North Cascades National Park.
There is a wide variety of great places to camp along the Thunder Creek as well as a few good ones near the Fremont Glacier of Mount Logan. You can see the camp spots on a pdf map as seen here. Here is a complete list of camp sites along the Fremont Glacier route via Thunder Creek:
Colonial Creek Campground
0 Miles | 0 KM
1232 ft. | 375 m
1.8 Miles | 2.9 KMs
1261 ft. | 384 m
2.1 Miles | 3.4 KMs
1461 ft. | 445 m
5.7 Miles | 9.2 KMs
1887 ft. | 575 m
7 Miles | 11.3 KMs
1950 ft. | 594 m
9.2 Miles | 14.8 KMs
3101 ft. | 945 m
13 Miles | 20.9 KMs
2407 ft. | 733 m
15.9 Miles | 25.6 KMs
4405 ft. | 1342 m
19 Miles+ | 30.6 KMs+
7961 ft. | 2426 m
Camping is not permitted at Park Creek Pass. Other nice bivy spots with year round water can be found by following the trail 1/3 mile North from Park Creek Pass and investigating the meadows near a first stream crossing. The best one on Mount Logan is near Point 8248 just near the edge of the Fremont Glacier.
Another thing I should mention, even though this is a great peak, be warned for the bugs and biting flies. When I was finished with this trip I had bug bites on me that lasted over a month!
There is also camping at the Colonial Creek Trailhead (Thunder Creek Trailhead) which costs $12 per night and is based on a first come first serve bases. More information on this campground can be found on the NPS Website.
When To Climb
Hiking Above the Clouds
Hogsback Glowing Brightly
The Best months to climb Mount Logan are July through September, although you might be able to sneak in a October ascend. Be warned that if it is a unusual amount of the snow that year, I recommend waiting until at least late July. The standard route can be quite treacherous if snow covered due to the high exposure in a few places along the ridge to the summit.
During the winter usually you can get to the trailhead, but sometimes access is closed depending on if you can get to the city of Diablo (locals only when icy). The current information can be seen on the National Park Service Website. If your trying to access the Mount Logan trailhead from the east side during winter, it is usually closed through out the winter season which usually starts from Early November to some time in April. This depends on the snow pack of the year, a complete history can be seen on the WSDOT Website. The Stehekin road is only plowed to the 9 mile point in winter as well.
Weather and Mountain Conditions
Winds on the Mountain
This is one of those peaks that you want good weather on, especially considering that it takes several days to climb. Even during the summer time the weather can be quite cloudy for days on end. When I was here, it took a bit of waiting out the storm for the conditions to improve. Also watch out for fresh snow on the mountain which if it ice's over, could pose as a potential danger when scrambling the rock.
For current up to date weather, click here for the forecast.
For Avalanche Conditions, check in with the Northwest Avalanche Center. (Limited based on the season)
Gear for the Climb
Using an Ice Axe
Bring Approach Shoes
This is not the trip to under pack your gear, as I recall my shoulders were hurting by the end of the trip from how much gear I carried up. I had used everything that I carried (besides the picket, rescue pulley, ect).
Full Scale Mountaineering Boots (or plastics if your up to it)
Long and Short Sleeve Shirt
3-4 Day worth of Food! (I carried more food than any other trip and ate everything)
Optional Gear you may Want:
Approach Shoes (this saved my feet a lot of trouble)
Bug Spray (Certainly handy here!)
Camera (Highly Recommended)
Tooth Brush and Paste
Cover for your Backpack
Thunder Creek Camping Spots (North)
Park Creek Trail Variation (South)
Mount Logan Upper Mountain Topo
Thunder Creek Topo
Douglas Glacier Route
Sunsets and Sunrises on Mount Logan
Sunrise on Eldorado, Klawatti, and Primus Peak from High Camp
Alpenglow on Mount Logan's True Summit
Eldorado Peak Sunset looking West
Sunset over Primus
Sunset on Eldorado Peak
Sunset from Logan
Sunset on Bonanza
Evening on Logan
Above the Clouds
Sunrise on Jack Mountain
Sunrise on Eldorado Peak
Sunrise on Ripsaw Ridge
Boston Peak Alpenglow
Sunrise on Klawatti Peak
Boston and Sahale Mountain
Sunrise on Buckner Mountain
Sunset on Mount Logan from Primus Peak
Morning View of Mount Logan
Wildlife and Flora
Despite it's ruggedness, it still manages to have some wildlife on the mountain and is abundant in the valley. If your lucky you can spot Marmots, Deer, Birds, Bears and other animals in the area as well as wild flowers.
Snake in the Woods
Mushrooms on a Tree
Ptarmigan by Jim Kuresman
Monkey Flowers by Jim K.
Bear in the Thunder Cr. Valley
Deer at Skagit Queen Camp
Views from Logan
On a clear day one can see a wide range of peaks, this is perhaps what one would call "The Heart of the North Cascades" which has spectacular views of peaks like Eldorado, Buckner, Forbidden, and Sahale Mountain. The views alone make traveling to this peak worth while.
Views to the Southwest from the Base of the Fremont Glacier