|Stuart Range from Navaho Peak|
Access: Short stretch of poor gravel road to trailhead; Northwest Forest Pass required.
The lofty summit of Navaho Peak is a stunning location to observe the sunny side of the Cascades. On a clear day, this perch high in the Teanaway offers close-up views of the peaks of the Enchantments, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Kittitas Valley, and Mount Rainier. The price for this panorama of Washington mountains is a long approach along Stafford Creek to Navaho Pass coupled with a steep and punishing final climb to the summit. It's certainly not for all hikers, but those accustomed to long and steep hikes will be rewarded with a tumbling creek, scattered wildflowers, meadows, and a chance to glimpse the glistening granite of the Stuart Range.
I hiked this trail with two friends on a beautifully clear and not-too-hot Sunday in June, at the end of numerous days of rain. We made the two hour drive out from Seattle via I-90, leaving the interstate at Exit 84 for Route 903. We followed 903 through Cle Elum; the road turned into Route 10 after leaving town. About three miles past the town, we stayed to the left to head onto Route 970 in the direction of Wenatchee. Another four miles on, we turned left onto Teanaway Road and followed the paved but narrow road along the Teanaway River, with good views of both the Teanaway and Stuart Ranges appearing before us. The paved road changed to a good gravel when the road entered Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest; we followed the gravel road for a little over a mile past a bridge over Stafford Creek to the junction with NF-9737. Here, we took the right fork and followed a bumpy, pothole-filled dirt road to the trailhead, staying straight when we reached the junction for Standup Creek. The Stafford Creek Trailhead was reasonably well marked; parking there required a Northwest Forest Pass.
The trail began on the east side of Stafford Creek and headed off into the open woods parallel to the lively stream. We found some beautiful blooming tiger lilies along the trail.
|Tiger lilies along Stafford Creek|
|Stafford Creek tumbling through the forest|
|Meadow high up in Stafford Creek valley|
|Shooting stars near Stafford Creek headwaters|
|Barren mountainscape near the pass|
|Stuart Range from Navaho Pass|
|Trail at Navaho Pass|
As we hiked up, we noticed a double rainbow arching across the sky, stretching through a set of high cirrus clouds.
|Clouds and rainbows above Earl Peak|
|Twisted pine and Mount Stuart|
After passing a few patches of snow on the highest slopes of Navaho, the trail finally brought us to the summit, a fairly compact area with room for just a few groups to sit. The summit panorama was everything I could have expected from a high peak view: the sweeping vista encompassed everything from the arid Columbia Basin, Ellensburg in the Kittitas Valley, the Goat Rocks and Mount Adams, the clouds building on Mount Rainier, the jumble of craggy peaks near Mount Daniel and Hinman, the closer-in summits of Ingalls Peak and Mount Stuart, and the granite spine of the peaks lining the Enchantment Basin.
|Mount Adams and Goat Rocks|
|View towards the desert|