Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
The Bridge Creek Trail is one segment of the 2,650 mile (4240 km) Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which enters North Cascades National Park at High Bridge (via the Agnes Creek Trail) then follows the Old Wagon Trail to the Bridge Creek Trail. All told, 18 miles (29 km) of the PCT pass through the park. In the fall, when the PCT hikers are passing through en masse, the trail is at its busiest, but it is a popular thoroughfare for much of the year regardless. This trail provides the shortest and least difficult hiker or stock approach to Stehekin, and it connects to many other backpacker trails. Although not as popular as some of its brethren as a day hike, it makes an excellent day ride for stock parties, and a mellow day hike.
Backcountry Camping: A backcountry permit is required for all overnight stays. Permits are limited. There are numerous hiker camps spaced every few miles along the entire trail. Stock camps are located at Fireweed, South Fork, and Bridge Creek.
Access via State Route 20: Drive State Route 20 to mile 159, just over one mile (1.9 km) east of Rainy Pass. The parking lot is located on the north side of the highway. To access the trail, cross the highway and look for a short connector trail that takes you to the main trail, the Pacific Crest Trail. This trailhead requires a Northwest Forest Pass or federal recreation access pass, which is available at any ranger station.
Detailed Trail Description
The Bridge Creek Trail makes a gentle drop in elevation as it follows its namesake creek to its confluence with the Stehekin River. This trail melts out earlier than any other option for hiking into Stehekin--usually by mid June. In spring and early summer, the trail blooms in a profusion of wildflowers in numerous meadows and avalanche tracks. Late season it can be hot and dry, and the patches of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and other forest types provide welcome shade.
Along the way, the Bridge Creek Trail provides access to the McAlester Lake, Dagger Lake, Rainbow Lake, and North Fork trails. At Bridge Creek Camp, which makes an excellent base for exploration, trails radiate east and west and link up to many more options.
Ninety-three percent of North Cascades National Park Service Complex is designated as the Stephen Mather Wilderness, set aside by law for "the American people of present and future generations" for our protection and enjoyment. Please follow all Leave No Trace hiking and camping practices to reduce your impact on this special place and leave it unimpaired for future generations.
Last updated: September 1, 2021