Description - Glacier Peak Wilderness, 572,000 acres in size, 35 miles long and 20 miles wide, is characterized by heavily forested stream courses, steep sided valleys, and dramatic glacier crowned peaks. Forest vegetation is comprised of true firs, spruce, and hemlock as well as stands of pine on its eastern slopes. Various species of wildlife inhabit the area and include deer, elk, black bear, mountain goat, cougar, marten, and lynx. Smaller animals, such as field mice are in constant attendance and can be almost certain to visit your camp during the night. The high mountain lakes often give good catches of fish during their ice-free months. The primary fishery is cutthroat trout, however, other species do exist.
- At 10,541 feet, Glacier Peak is the dominant geologic feature of Glacier Peak Wilderness area. No roads approach the mountain, and one must hike many miles through extremely rough terrain to reach its base. Hikers can reach the volcano from the west via the White Chuck Valley, or the Suiattle River Valley; from the east, it may be approached from the western tip of Lake Chelan. Most of Glacier Peak's cone was built by relatively quiet flows of dacite lava. The last eruption 12,000 years ago, however, spread ash as far away as eastern Idaho; its violence comparable to the well known Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980.
Recreation - Recreation opportunities abound with more than 450 miles of trail and many places where you can enjoy cross-country travel. Lakes for fishing, trails for hiking and horseback riding, and mountains for mountain climbing all are available within the Wilderness. A 49.6 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail travels through the Wilderness. Some of the other popular trails include the North Fork Sauk Trail, Crystal Lake Trail, Lost Creek Trail, and Gamma Ridge Trail. Because of the popularity of the area, there are some restrictions in place in order to protect its unique wilderness character.
Climate - Climate in the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area changes drastically with elevation. The area receives a high amount of precipitation. Much of the precipitation comes from October to April in the form of rain at the low elevations and as wet heavy snow in the higher elevations. Deep winter snowpacks accumulate in the high elevations. Although snow is possible in the lowest elevations, it is less frequent. Most years the Wilderness is still buried under 10-20 feet of snow in May. Usually most trails and passes are snow free by mid-August, but this varies from year to year.
Late spring, summer and early autumn tend to bring clear, sunny days with moderate temperatures. Snow and cold rain can occur in midsummer.
The Glacier Peak Wilderness is located within portions of Chelan, Snohomish, and Skagit Counties in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington State. The wilderness is situated within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The wilderness can be accessed via the Mountain Loop Highway, off Forest and County roads #23, #49 and #26.