Gothic Basin Trail is a 8.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Granite Falls, WA that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Directions from Verlot: Travel east on Mt. Loop Hwy. 19.5 miles. Park at Barlow Pass and proceed on foot for 1.7 miles on the Monte Cristo Road. The trailhead is on the right.
Great views and a very pleasurable day hike.
Arrived at the Barlow Pass parking lot at 6:55 on a Thursday (9/15) morning, ready for a grueling adventure and personal challenge: to complete Gothic Basin, explore Monte Cristo Ghost Town and tackle Glacier Basin – all in one day. To do this, I know I needed to start early and bring a mountain bicycle in order to conserve some energy.
PART 1: GOTHIC BASIN
I took to my bicycle and peddled down the hill (go left) on the gravel road until you see the big metal gate (to the right). This is the road that will take you to Monte Cristo. My first stop, though, was to hike to Gothic Basin (9.2 miles RT). The new trail is being worked on - go straight at 'Proceed at Your Own Risk' sign. Follow the ribbons, which take you around the washout area. Had to walk my bicycle by my side occasionally, which wasn't a big deal considering the amount of waking it had already saved me (and would later on).
Arrived at the Weden Creek Gothic Basin #724 trail ~1 mile in. Parked my bicycle next to the trailhead and started hiking at 7:15 am. The trail is flat at first, following the river and traveling across the occasional wooden boardwalk. It then cuts across a stream and starts pushing upward. Rocky terrain and tricky footing are given relief by periodic switchbacks. Break out of the trees once you reach DNR Managed Lands (there is a sign) and enjoy expansive views of neighboring peaks, the valley floor below and towering peaks above you. The trail becomes more rugged as it steepens, but remains easy to follow. Entered Gothic Basin at 8:55 am. Follow the trail to the right if you want to visit Foggy Lake. The lake more closely resembled a pond, but still offered nice reflections of the rocky terrain surrounding. Beyond the lake, I spent an hour doing a small loop around the basin. There are quite a few fairly distinct trails to follow so you "Leave No Trace." Quite a few picturesque camping spots, 2-3 of which were occupied at the time. There's also a beautiful multi-teared waterfall that leads to an impressive overlook above Weden Lake. Overall, a beautiful area with much to explore. Started my descent at 10:10 am. Passed 8 other day hikers and 2 groups of backpackers. Arrived back at the Weden Creek Gothic Basin #724 trail at 11:10 am.
PART 2: MONTE CRISTO GHOST TOWN
Grabbed my bicycle and easily crossed the shallow river by hopping across rocks. Might have to seek out a log of two other times of the year when the river might be higher. Crossed two wooden bridges along the way to a short but gnarly part of Monte Cristo Road where large gathering of rocks make it difficult to walk and impossible to ride a bicycle. Bounced my bicycle beside me. There were quite a few uphill sections that forced me to walk the bicycle beside me, but was still able to ride about half the distance.
Ditched the bicycle and did a quick walk through the Monte Cristo Townsite, trying to envision what it would be like to live in this small mining town in the 1890s. There are mostly wooden signs pointing out where certain buildings were once built, but there are some structures still standing and a few relics remain scattered around the area. Perhaps the most interesting was the Railway Turntable, which was used to turn the train the opposite direction... still rotates! Pamplets from the Monte Cristo Preservation Association are available along your tour - this include a map and some interesting historical facts.
PART 3: GLACIER BASIN
Follow the signs to Glacier Basin as you wander through Dumas Street and the rest of Monte Cristo. I departed from the official Glacier Basin No. 719 trailhead at 12:20 pm. The first part of the 2+ mile trail is a shaded old forest road. The trail then narrows and climbs steadily. In the distance, Glacier Falls cascades beautifully down massive rocks and craggy peaks spike the horizon. Once you reach Glacier Falls, the trail intensifies and the incline is significant. At one point there is an option to grab a rope to help propel you forward (and allow you to hold on as you descend as well). Lots of elevation gain, obstacles and scrambling from here to the top. Arrived at Glacier Basin at 1:10 pm. A pretty basin, smaller in comparison to Gothic Basin, but one that features more ominous peaks surrounding it. More vegetation, too. There are massive rocks sitting throughout the basin and a creek that calmly meanders around them. A few snowfields covering the rock slides above. Plenty of evidence of mining activity in the form of cables, pipes and the holes (now blasted shut) on the hillsides. Explored the basin for about 45 minutes and then made it back into "town" by 2:35 pm.
THE ROAD HOME (BRING YOUR BIKE!)
This is the part where the bicycle really pays off. Instead of walking the 4 miles back to Barlow Pass, I was able to ride (or rather, coast) the majority of the way back from Monte Carlo. And when there are already at least 20+ strenuous miles logged already, it is a complete joy to not walk anymore.
One of my favorite hikes. It is very steep and challenging, but it is worth it. The view is amazing. I can't wait to go back up and camp.
It was a beautiful place to hike and had many trails to consider up top! Going down was the hard part for me. I got confused towards the end because the main trail split into three. But other than that, definitely one of my favorites!
Hard hike and amazing
trail was awesome. beautiful sites. definitely going to do it again
great hiking trail
Killer hike! Didn't finish but I'll be back!
well maintained trail when they say hard you definitely work for it but the views of the waterfalls are definitely worth the hike there's one patch of snow right before you get to the top there is a little water on trail but not to bad
This hike was no joke! To get there: follow mt. loop hwy until right before the paved roads ends and turns completely to gravel .. there will be a fire road, walk the fire road and then the trail will be washed out, you can can get around it (just gotta spot the hidden trail/not hard). Obstacles along the way where we had to stop and think about how we'd approach/get across safely with our dogs. Five foot rick walls, creek crossings so make sure you wear at least waterproof shoes, but I would recommend gaters. Lots of places for dogs to drink so you don't have to pack too much water for them. Waterfalls, snow, mountains... it's so so beautiful. Excited to try it again on a warmer day.
This is probably the hardest hike I have ever done. A very challenging hike. not for beginners. I packed in gear and stayed a few nights. Amazing views everywhere you look. It can get hot in the summer and there isn't much shade up at the top. But there is access to water. If you are up for a challenge and some cool sights this hike is for you.
Great challenging hike with multiple water access points and camping options in there basin. High exposure at the top, seek shade, sunscreen, and lots of water on warm days.
This hike is extreme incline & rough paths. I would only recommend to experienced hikers with walking sticks.
One of the hardest hikes that I have ever done but also one of the most amazing views that I have ever seen! I was not prepared for how physically and mentally challenging this trek was. Washington Trail Association states that it was 9 miles round trip with 2840 ft elevation gain. I thought to myself how hard can less than 3000 ft elevation gain in 4.5 miles going up be? Never underestimate any hike. It's not all about the elevation gain but also how difficult the trail is as well.
Round Trip: 9 miles (That does not include the trip from the parking lot to the actually trail head. That does not also include the trip to Foggy Lake)
Elevation Gain: 2840 ft (It certainly feels like there was so much more elevation gain!)
Time: 3.5 hours up, 2.5 hours down
Drive: About 2 hours coming from Seattle. The trial is simple and straightforward. The trail is right off Mountain Loop Hwy. No gravel road or potholes of any kind.
Parking: There is a small parking lot right across from Barlow Pass. The lot can fit around 10 cars.
Trail: Passing the metal gate just south of the parking lot is where the adventure start. For about 1-1.5 miles is an old gravel road that parallels to the Sauk River (This part is NOT included in the 9 mile round trip) You will first pass the Monte Cristo trail head first. Keep walking until the trail comes to a fork. You will proceed to the right going into the forest until you see the trail head for "Weden Creek/Gothic Basin #724". There is also an old outhouse. Proceed past the sign for a little bit and then you will then see a large sign for the "Weeden Creek Trail". This is your destination. This part was very confusing for my group and I. We weren't sure if we were going the right way. Good thing that I had screenshot the description.
The trail starts off with a gentle grade incline through the sheltering forest for about a mile. A couple of small stream crossings will be passed. About 1.5 miles into the trail, a series of switchbacks (about 20) will begin. The switchbacks are moderate at first then the incline starts to ascend pretty dramatically. Some of the steepest switchbacks that I have ever hiked.
Leading out of the forest, you will arrive at the first major waterfall. Continue onward and upward crossing to the left of the waterfall. The trail then beings to get very rough and rocky continuing this way throughout the rest of the hike. Some of the pathway is very narrow, hugging the edge of the mountain with thick overgrowth.
The final ascend into the basin is very steep amongst rocks and flat boulders. You will then arrive at Gothic Basin when you see a small lake surrounded by numerous peaks at 4.5 miles into the hike.
The hike to Foggy Lake was about 20 minutes past Gothic Basin. It is probably about half a mile away with another 500 ft of additional elevation gain. There is not a clear trail to the lake. We had to ask those that are climbing back which direction to take 3or else we would have probably never found it. One of my friends climb several peaks from the basin to see if he can catch a glimpse of the lake but it was no luck. To get to the lake we had to walk very steeply up along 3 ridges of rocks and boulders.
You will not see any views at the base of Gothic Basin. The higher you go, the better the views get. After reaching the top of the first ridge the view was magnificent seeing the small lake on the bottom and the different surrounding mountains/peaks. The view was worth the difficult journey.
Foggy Lake is very nice. You will not see much green as it is surrounded by rock formations. There were still some snow melting into the lake. There was a slight wind and the water was freezing. That was very refreshing since it was such a hot day and I was drenched in sweat from the journey up.
The overall distance is 1-1.5 miles from the parking lot to the trail head. 4.5 miles to Gothic Basin. Another .5 mile to Foggy Lake. Total of 12-13 miles round trip! This hike was mentally draining because you are constantly trekking over rocks, boulders and walking/climbing steeply over ridges without knowing if you are close to the end. However, all breathtaking views come with a challenge!
*Northwest Forest Pass required*
This hike is a bit of an ass kicker especially in upper 80 degree temp but good. To get to foggy lake, keep right and follow the small stacks of rocks someone made when you reach the basin. The lake is really refreshing on a hot day.