Waptus River

Quick update on Waptus River trail conditions:

The road to Salmon La Sac trailhead is paved and suitable for all cars, until the last 3/4 mile. The last 3/4 mile has a few larger potholes and two very small patches of snow that will almost certainly be gone by this weekend. If you’re concerned about the potholes, you can always park where the pavement ends and walk the relatively short distance to the trailhead.

Cooper River view, right at the start of the trail

As for the trail, there was very little snow in the first mile, and then snow coverage gradually increased until the trail was mostly snow-covered by mile 5 (my turnaround point). The snow was anywhere from 2 inches to 2+ feet deep. Mostly consolidated, with a few rotten sections where weak snow bridges were forming over the trail. There were approximately 10-15 blowdowns and a fair amount of debris on the trail, as well as several sections of mud and standing water. Everything was passable, although my feet didn’t stay dry..

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Typical trail conditions after mile 2ish

At approx 3.5 miles you cross Hour Creek. The trail leads down to an obvious ford, but I was feeling like a princess and didn’t want to submerge my feet, so I wandered downstream approx 50 ft and used a narrow but very stable log instead.

Hour Creek ford
Log across Hour Creek – approx 50 ft downstream from the ford

Just after crossing Hour Creek you reach a small campsite. There’s still some snow on the ground, but currently there are at least 2-3 snow-free spots to pitch a tent. I saw a sign pointing to a pit toilet, but didn’t see the toilet itself, so I assume it’s still buried under snow.

The campsite also offers views upstream to a big waterfall. This would make a nice, albeit short, early season backpacking destination – probably less crowded than Barclay Lake or other trails with similar mileage and elev gain. It’s also on the dry side of the Cascades! The only caveat is that the water crossings and snow coverage might be a little too difficult for small children.

Hour Creek campsite
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View upstream from campsite

I continued approx 1.5 miles beyond Hour Creek, and turned around where the trail rejoins the Waptus River. I’m looking forward to exploring the area more this summer!


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