Route: Fourth of July Creek trail (snowy spring conditions)

TR #: 120

Category: Washington (HWY 2)       High Point: 7,029 ft       Rock Type: Granitic

Partners: Matt Burton, Barb Eller, Suzanne Hartman, Eric Johnson, Yana Radenska, Tisha Schmidt, Barry Storer, Gus the dog

Snowy ridge + glistening mountains + sunny spring weather + 8 people + 1 dog + 1 stuffed goat = a fun spring expedition!

On top of the 7029 ft summit block of Icicle Ridge: Yana Radenska, Barry Storer, Eric Johnson, Tisha Schmidt, Suzanne Hartman, Barb Eller, Matt Burton, and Steph Abegg. Cashmere Mountain dominates the views in the distance.

Email Inbox, Friday morning...

I’m sending this message to everyone who has said they are interested in going to Icicle Ridge or who indicated they might be interested in finding a trip.
I am planning to do Icicle Ridge on Saturday, unless Friday morning’s weather forecast shows a major change.  The road is open to the 4th of July trailhead, so no road walking.  Trip is about 3.8 miles, 4700 gain, generally following the summer trail route.  Forecast for that area currently shows mostly sunny, 20% chance of precip in the morning (but Spokane NWS always says 20% unless it is absolutely dry).
If you are interested, please confirm.

A typical beginning to another fun day in the mountains. Given the cloudy forecast for the west side of the passes, the sunnier east side was a good choice for the weekend.

The climb

Icicle Ridge is just west of Leavenworth, WA. It's a 4700+ ft gain to get to the crest, but the views are worth it. To the south are the well-known Temple Ridge, Dragontail, Colchuck, Argonaut, Sherpa, and Stuart. To the west, Cashmere Mountain dominates the view. To the northwest are the sweeping Icicle Ridge to Big Jim, Grindstone, and the distant Daniel and Glacier Peak. And to the east are the rolling hills of eastern Washington.  What a view!

The Fourth of July Creek Trail provides one of the shorter routes up to Icicle Ridge. Climbing nearly a vertical mile in little more than a mile, the trail is one of the  steepest trails in the Icicle Creek valley. It's a great hike to do in the cooler spring. We found snowshoes useful - although not absolutely necessary - for the last 1600 ft of the climb, when soft snow obscured the trail.

The rocky 7029 high point of Icicle Ridge was the site of a fire lookout from 1929 to 1966. A photo of the old lookout is shown to the right (photo reference). Getting to the very top requires a fun move. The top provided a nice flat spot to eat lunch, bask in the spring sun, and identify the summits of our panoramic view.

See the map and photo descriptions on the right for more detail.


From milepost 99 on US 2, on the western edge of Leavenworth, follow the paved Icicle Creek Road (Forest Road 76) for 9.4 miles to the trailhead, located on the right (elev. 2300 ft).


Roundtrip distance: 10 miles (according to my GPS)
Start elev.: 2300 ft
High point: 7029 ft
Elevation gain: ~4730 ft
Up: 4:00; Summit/Ridge/Lunch: 0:50; Down: 2:30; Total: 7:20

  • 5:54 am: Sunrise (wow, even before I leave home, summer is on it's way!)
  • 6 am: Leave home
  • 7:15 am: Meet at Smokestack in Monroe
  • 9:20 am: Arrive at Fourth of July Creek Trailhead (2300 ft)
  • 9:40 am: Start hiking up
  • 11:20 am: Hit snow on trail (4700 ft)
  • 12:20 pm: Put on snowshoes (5400 ft)
  • 1:40 pm: High Point (7029 ft)
  • 2:30 pm: Begin descent
  • 5:00 pm: Arrive back at car
  • 8:13 pm: Sunset




Fourth of July Creek trailhead. Popular hike!
Hiking up the Fourth of July Creek trail. The east side of the passes lacks the snow and 'schwacking we are used to from the west side.
Gus. With all of his running around, he ascended the equivalent of a few Icicle Ridge trips.
Woodworm art.
Ascending the rib when snow covered the trail around 4700ft.
Ascending snow through the timbered slopes, Cashmere Mountain towering across the valley.
Looking up towards the high point of Icicle Ridge. On the way up we scrambled on the rock, and on the way down we wrapped around to the right side of the photo.
Rimed trees on Icicle Ridge.
Rimed rocks near the high point on Icicle Ridge.
Remnants of the old fire lookout on Icicle Ridge.
Yana gaining the summit block. The old fire lookout anchors provide great handholds/footholds to get onto the top of the summit block.
Matt enjoying his summit tea.

Summiting Form

"Grip and crimp"
"Mantle R, pull L"
"Slab purist"
"Knee works well"
"Hauling over"
"Pull R, mantle L"
"Hang on!"
"Swing it"
"They left me just below so I wouldn't show them all up"
"Get up first to take more photos"


To the S: Temple Ridge.
To the SW: Dragontail, Colchuck, Argonaut.
To the SW: Dragontail, Colchuck, Argonaut, Sherpa, Stuart.
To the W: Cashmere Mountain.
To the W: Cashmere Mountain.
To the W: Cashmere Mountain..
To the NW: Grindstone Mountain.
To the N: Northern end of Icicle Ridge.


Looking back up towards the summit block on Icicle Ridge.
Descending the softening snow. Lots of postholing ahead.
The flowers always bloom earlier on the east side. Glacier lily.
I waited 222,222 kilometers to take this photo.

For more photos and notes, see Matt's trip report on nwhikers.com.