River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This is a spectacular run in a beautiful place, and is easily one of the finest sections of the PCT in Washington. Expect a long day with lovely views, good water stops, and no people. And a remarkable lack of climbing, given the terrain and the distance!
Need to Know
You'll need a shuttle. It's about 1.25 hours by car between the start and the finish. You may want to camp at Harts Pass or Meadows Campground. These campgrounds are USFS operated and cost about $8 per night per site.
The total distance from Harts Pass could be 33 or 30 miles. Total distance from the PCT trailhead near Meadows Campground could be 29 or 30 miles. We found different distances depending on our information sources.
The run can be sunny and warm, so get an early start. Finish your day eating and drinking at the Mazama Store in Mazama, WA, and, of course, cool off in the Methow River up the road from the store!
This run took us between 8.5 and 9 hours. You will need to be self-supported here, with food, water, clothes for bad weather, and have the ability to treat water along the route, unless you want to carry a lot of it. There is only one "escape" route and it comes about 10 miles in and leads out the Methow River Trail. From the escape point, it's still another 8.5 flat miles to a trailhead.
In late summer, portions of the trail can be dry. First water might be after 8 miles, from Brushy Creek. Then continuous water along Methow River until two miles before Methow Pass at about 15 miles. From there, water can be scarce until you reach the descent to Rainy Pass from Cutthroat Pass. We ran the trail in early August, 2016, and found water between Methow Pass and Granite Pass. In early season (June, July) you will likely encounter snow on portions of this run. Check PCT hiking guides for more into on where the snow might be encountered. Washington Trails Association site is a good one.
The elevation gain and descent are, I think, actually easier than shown from the Google Earth profile here. My count, using the Green Trails Washington Pass Map #50, shows about 3600' of gain and about 5500' of descent. There are few climbs, and few of them are very stiff. The grades are excellent, nothing too steep.
The trail condition is quite good. A few areas are overgrown with grass and flowers(!) and only the final section, from Cutthroat Pass down to Rainy Pass, is rooty and boney, because it is the most heavily traveled by runners and hikers.
We camped at the Meadows Campground near Harts Pass and started from near there, shaving a couple miles off the run. We encountered snow in one area between Tatie Peak and Glacier Pass, but only about 50 feet of it. No problem.
Flora & Fauna
Bear signs were abundant along the Methow River.
Shared By: matt huston