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Circle Peak

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
View map below

Length

16.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2800 ft.
Highest Point: 5983 ft.

Rating

1.80 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

Hikers who venture into this country will encounter evidence of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest’s logging history. The trail leads through miles of logging road which dwindles to a trail into the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Intrepid hikers can find a recently reconstructed trail over Skaar Pass to Circle Peak.

From the Crystal Lake trailhead, it is only 5.2 miles from the trailhead to Circle Peak's summit.

For those who access the area from the Meadow Mountain trail, head down from the parking area and climb 450 feet, enjoying views of Meadow and Mount Pugh, and then abruptly loses 300 feet of elevation. At 1.3 miles is a junction with the Crystal Lake Trail. Find the old Crystal Creek Road at 1.3 miles and turn left. 

The road continues climbing and passes a nice campsite. The trail enters an old clearcut at 3.5 miles from the trailhead and deteriorates further. At the east end of the clearcut, the trail ascends 500 feet along an old fireline. The trail levels off and enters the Glacier Peak Wilderness and ends at the untouched forest on the shore of Crystal Lake. 

To find the currently unsigned trail from Crystal Lake to Circle Peak, cross to the north side of the outlet stream at the lake, walk across the campsite on the lake shore, and follow the obvious trail leading away from the lake.

You can follow the trail for approximately four miles to an old lookout site at the summit of Circle Peak. The trail contours for about one mile before dropping about 300 feet to Skaar Pass, crossing into the Circle Creek drainage and climbing for about 1.5 miles to reach the first of several meadows.

Follow switchbacks up through forest and meadow another 1.75 miles to the summit ridge of Circle Peak. Don’t bother scrambling the final 200 yards, as the trail is sketchy and somewhat dangerous. Do linger below the lookout, soaking in views that include White Chuck, Glacier, Sloan and Pugh.

 

Circle Peak

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.2234, -121.3501 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway

Circle Peak (#634)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

100 Hikes in the North Cascades - Glacier Peak Region (Spring and Manning)

Buy the Green Trails Sloan Peak No. 111 map

Getting There

From Darrington, head north on Highway 530 to Forest Road 26/Suiattle River Road. Follow FR 26 for about 10 miles and turn right onto FR 25, which takes you across the Boundary Bridge. After 3.2 miles, at the junction, keep right onto FR 2700. After 2.0 miles, at the junction, keep left onto FR 2703. Follow about 7 miles to the trailhead, which is about 200 yards before the end of the road.

An alternate access point to Circle Peak (though a much longer hike) is to drive the Mountain Loop Highway south from Darrington and cross the Sauk River.  0.2 miles after the crossing, turn left on the White Chuck Road 23.  Follow the White Chuck Road for 6 miles, then turn left on Forest Road #2700. Follow this road for 2.4 miles to the Meadow Mountain trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Circle Peak

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