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Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

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Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail

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  • Trailhead. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • The trail crosses Fourth of July Creek twice before starting the serious ascent. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Wildflowers and berry bushes along the trail. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Switchbacks through the open slope pass under huge Ponderosas. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Looking east from a switchback near the end of the most grueling section, at about 2.5 miles from the trailhead. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Blowdowns strew the first camping area 2 miles below the ridge. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Aspen take advantage of the open slope left by the burned forest. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Campsite at switchback just before long traverse below summit. A small, flat area for a 2-person tent is in the top left of photo. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Burned out forest below the ridge, on the south-facing slope. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Trail junction at the ridge. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Campsite at the ridge, with views of the Stuart Range. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
  • Morning coffee doesn't get any better than this. - Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Constant great views. Early season snowmelt. Wildflowers. Great training hike.
Cons: 
Hot. Rattlesnakes. Few campsites below the ridge.
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Region:
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,370.00 ft (1,331.98 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
12.00 mi (19.31 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,300.00 ft (701.04 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The Fourth of July Trail begins in forest and brush, with two hops over Fourth of July Creek. It quickly begins to climb with dedication, and it doesn’t stop until nothing is left but downhill slopes on either side of Icicle Ridge and the spine of the ridge itself. The entire trail lies on the south- to southwest-facing slope of the ridge, so this approach to Icicle Ridge is notoriously hot and notoriously mined with rattlesnakes. An easier approach can be seen here. The upside to the scorching heat is that it gets the juices flowing in the trees, and the air is thick with the vanilla-butterscotch scent of ponderosa pines. After a seasonal spring at about 2 miles, switchbacks tack up a slope occasionally punctuated with shade-giving pines. The Stuart Range, home of the Enchantments, looms directly across the narrow valley. There are no campsites along the first half of the trail because the slope is simply too steep. Evidence of wildfires begins to appear: Trunk-blackened but still-living trees and time-silvered skeletons whisker the slope, and young aspen take advantage of the open space.

The grade eases somewhat, but blowdowns make an obstacle course of the trail and are strewn around the first campsite. After a few more switchbacks through a dense but open forest of bleached dead trees, a second small campsite lies at the west end of a switchback under a rock outcropping. The ground around the fire ring is cramped, but there’s a flat spot under a pine a few paces to the southwest. From here, the trail starts a gentle traverse beneath Icicle Ridge, and a few final switchbacks lead to the broad ridge itself. Plenty of level, if lumpy, spots provide suitable campsites. It appears that the dispersed camping done on the ridge has been random enough not to leave any campsite scars, though there’s evidence of disassembled fire rings.

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