Stiletto Loop

October 2020

Hiking a loop around Stiletto Peak is an off-trail adventure that takes you through groves of giant larches. 

This loop can be done as a long day hike, but there are spots to camp at the gorgeous Stiletto Lake.

The loop starts at the Bridge Creek Trailhead on Highway 20, and follows the PCT for about a mile, before heading west towards Stiletto Peak.

The trail then gets steep as it switchbacks its way up towards the peak. The views of the North Cascades highway are pretty cool. In the foreground is Whistler Mountain, Black Peak is the prominent peak in the background.

The views to the south open out as well, as we start hiking through the meadows.

Great view of Bonanza Peak.

The maintained trail ends at the ruins of an old fire lookout, and then the off-trail adventure begins.

There’s some boulder-hopping as you descend into the drainage, and that’s when the explosion of technicolor begins. We wandered into this thicket of such intense color that we just stood there, mesmerized. We’d really never seen anything quite like it before.

The larches weren’t just numerous, some of them were GIGANTIC! Trees at this altitude are usually stunted and never get too large because of the harsh conditions up here, so it was really cool to see these goliaths of the alpine.

We made a quick stop at Stiletto Lake for a snack and a dip. The colors were phenomenal.

With so many pretty distractions everywhere, the day was starting to get away from us – it was late afternoon and we still had a long way to go to get back to the trailhead. Yet, we couldn’t help taking the time to marvel at every little thing along the trail.

Blueberries. Yum!

Western Anemones backlit by the sun.

This had been our first real experience of a ‘larch march’, and we were just so filled with awe and delight. This is one of my favorite photos because it so perfectly captures our blissful state of being on the hike out.