ROUND TRIP: 8.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,300 feet
SEASON: July - October
START: Forest Road 63
PARKING: Northwest Forest Pass
One of the most spectacular ridgeline hikes in the Central Cascades, the only thing superseding West Cady’s flowers is its views. Start your hike in a luxurious ancient forest. After crossing the North Fork Skykomish River on a bridge above a small gorge, begin to climb. The trail winds through some of the biggest and oldest trees in the Skykomish Ranger District, all protected within the Wild Sky Wilderness. At approximately 2.0 miles reach a densely forested gap between West Cady Ridge and Excelsior Mountain. The way now becomes much steeper marching up the spine of West Cady. Views begin to grow.
Traversing berry fields and heather meadows, reach a 4,750-foot knoll just shy of 4.0 miles. This is a good spot to call it quits if you’ve had enough climbing for the day. Sit back and enjoy breathtaking views north across the North Fork Skykomish Valley to Columbia and Monte Cristo Peaks and west across Jack Pass to snowy-faced Spire Mountain. If you have more energy, however, the views and meadows only get bigger and better if you continue hiking up the trail. A good objective is Bench Mark Mountain, a 7.2 mile one way trip from the trailhead. From this 5,816- foot mountain’s elongated summit savor dazzling displays of wildflowers and jaw-slacking views of peaks that span the horizons.
Header image courtesy of the Washington Trail Association