Nestled in the magnificent Snoqualmie Pass region of Washington State, Navaho Peak is a breathtaking hike. Any outdoor enthusiast seeking an unforgettable hiking adventure will find that Navaho Peak offers awe-inspiring alpine vistas, seas of wildflower meadows, and an exhilarating (and exhausting) journey through the heart of the Cascade Mountains.
In this post, I will provide you with essential information, detailed insights to ensure safety, and of course determine if Navaho Peak should be a 100 Classic Hike of Washington.
Hiked on June 21, 2022
Table of Contents
Map to Trailhead
Navaho Peak is located on the ancestral lands of the Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla, Wenatchi, and Yakama Tribes as well as the Confederated RIbes of the Colville Reservation.. We are grateful for the stewards of this land past and present. We are honored to be and recognize that we are guests on this land.
Region: Snoqualmie Pass
Distance: 14.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,100 ft
Time: 8hrs or Overnight
When to go: Late June-Oct
Dogs Allowed?: Yes- On Leash
How to Access Navaho Peak
Accessing the trailhead is relatively straightforward. From Seattle, it is roughly a 1 hour and 50 minute drive but with a necessary stop for coffee along the way, it’s over a 2 hour drive.
The trailhead for Navaho Peak is along the PCT Trail. There are a number of signs along the drive that point to the PCT access point, which is good because it is likely that after you take Exit 52, you will lose cell service. Along the road to the trailhead, I distinctly remember making a wrong turn long after my GPS was able to reroute.
But I made my way back to the original route and eventually reached the trailhead. The trailhead parking lot had plenty of space and some pit toilets.
Hiking Navaho Peak
The beginning of the Navaho Peak Trail follows the Stafford Creek Trail. There is a cool breeze that comes off of Stafford Creek during the first portion of the hike. The start of the hike is mellow and winds along the creek with small increments of elevation gain. There are plenty of trees to block the high sun of summer and flower gardens along the path are in full bloom.
Passing one of two backcountry sites along the trail, hikers will come to an avalanche swath which is where the real elevation gain begins.
An avalanche swath is a path or track that an avalanche follows during its descent down a slope. When an avalanche occurs, it can displace large amounts of rock, debris, and snow as it comes down a mountainside. This movement creates a distinct “swath” or corridor where the avalanche has swept away everything in its path.
Continuing right along the trail past the “Stafford Creek Trail” split, you will enter the last forested area of the trail. This was a great resting stop along the route, because just past this forested area is a steep and rocky shelf leading up to Navaho Pass. After completing the lengthy collection of switchbacks to the Pass, it is easy to believe that the worst of the elevation is over. From Navaho Pass hikers can view Ingalls Creek Valley which looks into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. With views like Dragontail Peak and Little Annapurna, this is sometimes the turnaround point for many hikers because…
In the last mile from Navaho Pass to Navaho Peak, you will be gaining over 1,200ft of elevation. The steep and gravely tread of the trail comprised almost a third of the total time on the trail. With switchbacks as short as five paces and large patches of snow to navigate across, the venture to the top is not an easy one.
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The effort is worth it however. Throughout the summit there are spectacular views of Mount Rainier, Mission Ridge and Teanaway Peaks. With views like these, the push to the top was followed one foot after another.
At the top there are 360 views and when I completed it there were only two other people up at the top. I saw a total of five people on the Navaho Peak Trail.
Use your time at the top to rest up, because navigation back down is tough! But worth it!
Should Navaho Peak be a 100 Classic of Washington?
Navaho Peak was one of the most challenging day hikes I completed last summer and even after reaching my car after an 8 hour day on the trail, I knew I wanted to complete this hike again.
Navaho Peak offers stunning alpine scenery, panoramic views and is appealing to all outdoor enthusiasts. It is truly a remarkable hike and should be a “!00 Classic Hike of Washington”/ The perspective that can be gained from this area is truly unique to any other hike.
Things to Note about Navaho Peak
Hiking Navaho Peak, especially in a single day, should not be taken lightly. To ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience on Navaho Peak, it’s important to be well-prepared and knowledgeable about the trail and the surrounding environment. Here are some key steps to take:
- Research and plan: Familiarize yourself with the Navaho Peak trail by studying maps, guidebooks, and online resources. Understand the trail length, elevation gain, difficulty level, and estimated hiking time.
- Check weather conditions: Before heading out, check the weather forecast for the area. Be aware of any storm warnings, heavy precipitation, or extreme temperatures that might affect your hike. Adjust your plans accordingly and be prepared for changing weather conditions during the hike.
- Pack essential gear: Ensure you have the necessary equipment and supplies for a safe hike. These may include:
– Appropriate footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots that provide good traction and ankle support.
– Clothing layers: Dress in layers to adapt to changing temperatures and weather conditions. Include a waterproof and windproof outer layer.
– Navigation tools: Carry a detailed map, compass, or GPS device to navigate the trail confidently. I used the downloaded AllTrails map and it worked great!
– Sun protection: Pack sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat to shield yourself from the sun’s rays at higher elevations.
– Food and water: Carry ample snacks and plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the hike. Consider water filtration or purification methods for refilling water from natural sources. You will drink more water than you’d think on this hike!
– First aid kit: Include essential supplies like bandages, antiseptic, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications.
– Emergency essentials: Carry a headlamp, extra batteries, a whistle, a multi-tool, and a lightweight emergency shelter like a space blanket.
– Communication devices: Bring a fully charged cell phone or a satellite communication device in case of emergencies.
- Share your plans: Inform someone reliable about your hiking plans, including your intended route, estimated start and finish times, and any alternate plans you may have. Check-in with them upon completion of your hike.
- Hiking companions: Consider hiking with a partner or a group, as this adds an extra layer of safety and support, especially in remote or challenging terrain.
- Stay on the trail: Stick to the designated trail to avoid getting lost or damaging fragile ecosystems. Follow any posted signs or markers along the way.
- Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Pack out all trash, respect wildlife and vegetation, and avoid shortcuts or creating new trails.
- Monitor your energy and pace: Pace yourself during the hike, especially on challenging sections. Take breaks as needed and listen to your body to avoid exhaustion or dehydration.
- Be aware of hazards: Stay informed about potential hazards like wildlife encounters, slippery sections, steep drop-offs, or rockfall areas. Use caution and common sense to mitigate risks.
- Stay updated on trail conditions: Check for any trail condition updates, closures, or advisories before your hike. Local hiking organizations or park authorities often provide such information.
Remember, hiking can come with inherent risks, and conditions can change quickly. It’s important to be prepared, exercise caution, and make informed decisions to ensure your safety and the safety of others during your hike to Navaho Peak.
Happy Hiking, Friends!