Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washingtonby defamer The Navaho Pass trail offers some of the finest scenery in the Teanaway region and never fails to please. The grade of the trail remains moderate all the way to the pass, easy even on slightly over-the-hill bodies like mine. Of course, the young and the strong (or foolish) can increase the workout by scrambling up to the summit of 7200' Navaho Peak, an incredible viewpoint overlooking the Stuart Range.
The first mile of the trail warms you up in a most pleasant way as it gradually climbs along the banks of Stafford creek, rushing loudly from all the recent rain. Tree buffs will enjoy identifying the diverse variety of conifers shading the trail, including ponderosa pines, hemlocks, and various firs. The grade of the well maintained trail picks up slightly further up the valley but never gets steep. The forest becomes more open as you climb and vistas open up toward craggy peaks. At the 3 mile point the trail makes a few lazy switchbacks, then levels out at a lush meadow with a popular campsite nearby; a vividly red-colored cliff towers up toward the north.
Beyond a junction with Trail #1369 (heading toward the Standup Creek basin), the grade of the Navaho Pass trail picks up a bit more as it climbs a slope in a couple of long switchbacks. The tread of the trail here is rocky and eroded in spots and could use some work. Eventually the trail levels out at a delightful meadow at nearly 6000' Around this meadow grows a thin timberline forest of lodgepole, whitebark pine, and subalpine fir. Several good and popular campsites are located here. The trail cuts right though the middle of the boggy meadow (it ought to be rerouted), then begins the final climb to the pass, much of the way in a "serpentine barren" almost devoid of plant life. From the top of this strange alpine desert, it's just a short climb to Navaho Pass, 6000', where the granite wall of the Stuart Range bursts into view.
When I hiked the trail on Sept 19, the Stuart Range was plastered with new snow and looked positively Himalayan. Navaho Peak also sported a coating of new snow. The weather was fairly nice most of the day, then a black hearted cloud arrived and chased me back to the car with a deluge of hail and rain. The trail is normally pretty popular, but that day there were only a few cars parked at the TH and I met no one on the trail. The hike to the pass is 11 miles RT with 2900 feet of gain. The Navaho Peak scramble adds another 1200' of climbing.
Number Pictures:5 Date Created: 2/17/06