Big Four Mountain is a mountain in the Cascade Range of Washington, located 21 miles east of Granite Falls. The mountain is about 6,180 feet high. At the bottom of its steep 4,200 foot high north face, debris piles form from avalanches and are able to remain there year-round because of the continuous shade provided by the mountain. At an elevation between 2,450 and 1,950 feet, this ice forms the lowest elevation glacier in the lower 49 states. During the summer, snow-melt streams flow beneath the debris piles and cause caves to be formed in the ice. The Big Four Ice Caves Trail, a designated National Recreation Trail, is one of the most popular hikes in the mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest attracting over 50,000 visitors per year; frequently exceeding several hundred hikers per day. This is an easy walk on a wide gravel and boardwalk path to views of Big Four Mountain and the caves beneath the snow. Hikers of all ages and abilities can enjoy this trail.
Formed by melting snow, waterfalls from the above cliff and wind, the ice caves are really snow caves under an avalanche chute. Inviting as they look on a warm day, there are signs everywhere warning of the danger. DO NOT GO INTO OR CLIMB ON TOP OF THE CAVES! People have been killed here by avalanches in the spring and collapsing snow bridges in the summer. This is an ever changing area of nature. The potential for danger that the melting ice could collapse is very real.
The trail ends in a circle of rocks perfect for safely admiring the caves, Big Four, and the surrounding beauty.