July 29 – August 1, 2024
This trail is steep and strenuous for everybody, but truly photogenic enough to be worthy of the effort.
We start at the Dark Meadow trailhead and follow that trail for 4 miles as it becomes mighty steep, with 1800 ft of elevation gain. After the intersection with Juniper Ridge trail we follow the trail west for a mile to Dark Meadow. Day 2 features a 4 mile hike with 1200 ft of fairly steep elevation gain to a stunning vista that features Mt Adams, Mt Rainier, Mt Hood and Mt St Helens. The second and third nights are usually spent here.
Options for the layover on day 3 include dawn at Sunrise peak (for early risers) or some day hiking in the vicinity of Jumbo Peak. Day 4 features an 7-mile hike back to the trailhead, and 3000 ft of elevation drop. “Strenuous” for sure.
Mountain goat and elk frequent the area, and we sometimes see bear, deer or grouse. There may be some wild strawberry picking in early August.
These trails are open to hikers, bicycles, horses and motorcycles. There is occasional motorcycle traffic, but expert riders only due to the difficulty of the trail.
Meet up at the trailhead at 10 am to review safety concerns and Leave No Trace principles. A Forest Pass is not required at this trailhead.
Lunch is provided on the first day and the last day, as well as meals and snacks in between.
Llamas aren’t very tolerant of hot weather, so if it’s hot, we’ll start early, with breakfast served at either 6 or 7 a.m. Extra coffee will be provided!
- Steep trail in places
- Motorcycles on the trail occasionally
- Steep, rocky ground by 2nd camp
We strive to provide exceptional meals in the back country. Fresh meats and fish, steamed vegetables, salad, fresh bread from Dutch ovens, and desserts are planned for the first three dinners. High fire danger will necessitate a simpler menu, as Dutch ovens can’t be used.
Subsequent dinners will be dried and re-hydrated, or selections of commercial dried dinners. Pescatarian, and dairy-free are easily accommodated. Vegan, kosher, and gluten-free are available individually through commercial dried dinners with fresh additives that we will bring.
The menu can be customized for your group. All dietary requests must be made at least 2 weeks before the trip.
Lunches will typically include wraps with fresh meats and cheese for the first three days, as well as a bit of fresh fruit. Day 4 will be wraps with nut butters and dried fruit. Snacks will be a selection of energy bars.
Breakfasts on travel days will include hot coffee, tea, and instant oatmeal selection. A nice breakfast is standard fare on layover days, sometimes with fresh coffee cake if fire danger allows.
What to Bring
The llamas carry 30 pounds of gear per person, including the tent (3-4 lb) and pad (1-2 lb) that we provide. Any overage is carried by the client.
- Rain gear
- Sleeping bag (available to rent for $22)
- Warm clothes
- Trekking poles
- Insect repellent