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Trip Report

Mazama Park via Ridley Creek

North Cascades

Trip Report By

Hiked May 20, 2016

Type of Hike

Overnight

Trail Conditions

Obstacles on trail:
    Trees down across trail,
    Difficult stream crossing(s).

Road

Road suitable for all vehicles

Bugs

No bugs

Snow

Snowfields to cross - could be difficult
My boyfriend and I decided to camp at Mazama Park for my birthday last week. The road leading to the Ridley Creek trailhead is well maintained with just a few potholes, all trees have been cleared from the road and getting to the start of the trail was a breeze. Almost immediately the trail leads to a rivercrossing, with a small, well-maintained log bridge (and rope handle) that is in great shape right now and easy to navigate. Once we started ascending the trail on the other side of the riverwe encountered multiple sections of downed trees. Some are quite large but it's fairly easy to climb over or under these obstacles- there were a couple sections where the wood and bark debris covered a significant portion of trail, but it was easy to find again with just a little searching once you're through the wood. The weather was intermittent on the day we went. It had rained quite a bit the two days leading up to the hike but was fairly clear the day we went. There were multiple drainages to cross along the trail, but even with all the rain the water wasn't very deep in any of them and crossing only required some strategic rock hopping :) There were also a few small streams crossing through the trail itself that I don't remember being there when I hiked this trail last summer, but they posed no problem other than wet shoes. You will ascend a section of switchbacks and can enjoy "peek-a-boo" views of the Twin Sisters through the trees as you climb. Once we reached the top of this section and headed toward the meadow we ran into quite a bit of snow. There's probably a good 2-3 ft of snow covering the trail for the last 1/2-3/4 mile leading to Mazama Park. If you're not familiar with the area it could pose a bit of a problem as the trail is difficult or impossible to find at that point. There are a couple significant snow-covered drainages to cross which were relatively easy. Just watch for areas where the snow is melting out from the bottom up (usually due to water flow underneath) because you can take an unexpected plunge through a weak layer and end up wet during the creek crossings! There is also a steep section you have to climb up to get out of one drainage, but there were quite a few good roots and rocks to use as steps and handles. We were lucky enough to encounter gorgeous, sunny weather once we reached the top! The meadow is completely snow covered but thankfully there is a small wooden shelter that is melted out and perfect for setting a tent up in! The meadow boasts gorgeous views of Baker, Park Butte, the Black Buttes, and the Twin Sisters. Park Butte lookout tower is also in view and wouldn't take very long to hike to from the meadow, but we bypassed that for the day due to all the snow. If you brought snowshoes or skis/skins you could enjoy a lovely day of touring around the area. It started raining heavily on us overnight, which made us appreciate the dry shelter even more. It was a great birthday camping trip! If you choose to hike this trail right now just be ready to get a little wet and dirty- and bring gear to help you through the snow. Happy trails!