The loop is generally closed in Winter due to snowfall, but recent storms (and lack of funding) have left the loop mostly closed for a number of years (with a few temporary exceptions).
Winter closures generally occur at Deer Creek Road and road damage related closures generally result in a gate closure at Barlow Pass.
Most of the trips currently listed on this page are reliably accessed coming through from the Marysville to Granite Falls direction, and are listed in 'trail head order' based on that couterclockwise loop direction.
Lime Kiln TrailThe Lime Kiln trail offers a forested walk through mining relics down to a river. Favorite artifacts include the huge Lime Kiln and a rusty saw blade. (Trip #08, May 14, 2005)
Old Robe CanyonFollow an old railroad route down to a raging river in Old Robe Canyon. This railroad had a number of riverside tunnels, some of which have collapsed. It's prone to flooding and a bit dangerous, but well worth the visit! (Trip #08, May 14, 2005)
Heather LakeLocated at the base of Mount Pilchuck in a steep-cliffed alpine basin, Heather Lake offers a wonderful half-day of adventure year-round. During summer, once the snow melts (and the avalanche risk diminishes) hikers can circumnavigate the lake (although I've yet to do so).
Heather Lake (Trip #194, September 29, 2012)
Heather Lake (Trip #130, December 31, 2010)
Heather Lake (Trip #91, May 31, 2009)
Heather Lake (Trip #58, December 7, 2007)
Heather Lake (Trip #37, February 24, 2007)
Mount PilchuckA prominent peak with a retired Fire Lookout at the summit, Mount Pilchuck receives a lot of visitors on clear summer days. It's a serious hike with a well established trail and well worth the effort!
Mount Pilchuck (Trip #195, October 15, 2012)
Mount Pilchuck (Trip #159, October 18, 2011)
Mount Pilchuck (Trip #95, July 11, 2009)
Mount Pilchuck (Trip #57, November 17, 2007)
Mount Pilchuck (Trip #47, June 26, 2007)
Mount Pilchuck (Trip #45, June 9, 2007)
Lake Twenty Two (Lake 22)Separated from Heather Lake by a single dominating alpine ridge, the Lake Twenty-Two trail offers a number of beautiful waterfalls along the way to this alpine gem.
Lake Twenty-Two (Trip #196, October 16, 2012)
Lake Twenty-Two (Trip #90, May 31, 2009)
Deer Creek Road / Lake KelcemaDuring winter, Deer Creek Road is a popular snowshoe route to Kelcema Lake. During the summer, this road is drivable directly to the lake.
Deer Creek Road Snowshoe (Trip #61, February 16, 2008)
Big Four Ice CavesOnce the site of a hotel/lodge, the Big Four Picnic area is a favorite for families during the summer. An easy 1 mile trail leads from the picnic area to the base of Big Four mountain where you can enjoy the majesty of the peaks and ponder the ice caves from a safe distance. **Please stay away from the ice caves as they can and do collapse. Falling ice can be deadly. Please heed all warning signs.**
Big Four Mountain - with Avalanche videos (ice caves are under all the snow) (Trip #112, April 25, 2010)
Big Four Ice Caves - a Father's Day Hike (Trip #22, June 18, 2006)
Big Four Ice Caves - with kids (Trip #07, May 7, 2005)
Perry CreekHike up a valley below towering Mount Dickerman. As you approach the falls, keep your eye open for tunnels in the cliffs above - or perhaps dangerous cornices in spring. Note: I believe the trail head for Perry Creek has been relocated and is now at a shared location with the Mount Dickerman trail.
Perry Creek (Trip #52, August 12, 2007)
Perry Creek (Trip #29, November 11, 2006
Mount DickermanA popular peak due to it's jaw dropping view, Mount Dickerman is a favorite for those who enjoy 3,000 feet of elevation gain. This is a hike you won't soon forget!
Mount Dickerman (Trip #51, July 29, 2007)
Mount Dickerman (Trip #44, May 5, 2007)
Gothic Basin / Foggy LakeUnforgettable! Fantastic scenery but be prepared for a rocky trail with more elevation gain that you planned on. Next time I'll hopefully have enough energy and time to continue up Del Campo peak.
Gothic Basin / Foggy Lake (Trip #193, September 16, 2012)
Goat LakeA long hike with reasonable elevation gain. Numerous waterfalls, creek views, peaks and a beautiful lake. Highly recommended!
Goat Lake - counterclockwise on the loop section and a tree toppling, news-making storm on the hike out (Trip #185, June 23, 2012)
Sauk RiverOld Sauk River Trail - located along the Mountain Loop Highway just a few miles before Darrington (if traveling in a counter clockwise fashion) is a great river walk and is receiving major trail improvements during 2012. (Trip #179, April 29, 2012)
North Fork Sauk River Road located just outside of Darrington (cross the bridge by the sawmill, park near the quary and keep an eye peeled for three easy to access mines before you reach the washout). (Trip #142, April 20, 2011)
North of Darrington (Hwy 530)The area around Darrington offers a lot of lessor known hiking opportunities.
North Mountain Lookout (made it!) (Trip #181, May 19, 2012)
North Mountain - my second attempt to reach the Lookout (Trip #178, April 29, 2012)
North Mountain (Trip #168, Dec. 26, 2011) offers access to a decommissioned Fire Lookout structure. It's in dire need of repairs and is under consideration for removal by the forest service. Save North Mountain Lookout!
There are a great many more trails in this area that demand my attention (and should be demanding your attention too). Classics such as Three Fingers Lookout, Sunrise Mine, Gothic Basin, Foggy Lake, Barlow Point, Mount Pugh and Vesper Peak are all on my to-do list.