Sunday, June 30, 2013

Devil's Dome Loop epic - North Cascades, WA

Three weeks ago when I did Desolation Peak I really wanted to do the Devil's Dome Loop, but was worried about the amount of snow and route finding that may be required (especially when alone). Dave and I got in touch after I did Desolation (and he was running the Echo Valley 50m) and summarily put the loop on the calendar. Sweet. Richard, who won Echo Valley and is about to run across Iowa, came along as well (and GregH, rehabbing some PF, joined us for the first section and 3,500' climb). 

In a nutshell, the loop circumnavigates Jack Mountain with half of the trail along Ross Lake and Ruby Creek, and the other half almost all above treeline on Jackita and Devil's ridges. The highest point is just over 6,900' on the summit of Devil's Dome. 

It took us longer than expected because of the route finding and overgrowth/blowdown. August-September will be much better conditions, but it was a great time-on-legs day for all of us.

A few of my pictures (my PhotoShop is not working; when it's fixed I'll stitch some of the panos and hopefully post some pictures from Dave and Richard, as well as their trip reports):

Greg crossing a creek on the way up to the Crater Mountain trail junction.

Devil's Park, heading up to Jackita Ridge.

Central Jackita Ridge; Anacortes crossing in the center background.
Route finding through central Jackita Ridge; Richard's photo.
North Fork Devil's Creek headwaters; cross-country travel from here up to Devil's Ridge; Dave's photo.
Richard (r) and Dave running toward Devil's Pass.

On Devil's Ridge, NE face of Jack Mountain behind.
Leaving the summit of Devil's Dome, looking west; Dave's photo.

Devil's Dome group shot. Thanks Richard!

Action Dave descending from Devil's Dome (I butt-glissaded...); Richard's photo.
On top of Devil's Dome.
Shuffling along the East Bank trail; Richard's photo.
Done....for today.
  • Currently, there still is significant snow in the central and northern portions of Jackita Ridge, especially in the North Fork Devil’s Creek valley (up toward Anacortes crossing). Significant route finding and cross-country travel is required for approximately three miles in this section from the descent into the valley up to regaining the ridge toward Devil's Pass. There is patchy snow earlier, and along Devil's Ridge, but it is not an issue. 
  • There is ample water along every section of trail (longest distance without maybe 4-5 miles from Dry Creek Pass, which has water, down to Ross Lake). 
  • For two miles From Dry Creek Pass toward Ross Lake the trail is very overgrown and there are 10-15 major blowdowns. The last two few miles down to the East Bank trail has only small trees across the trail. There also is overgrowth on the Ruby Creek trail going east from the East Bank trailhead.  
A BIG thank you to the guys for coming out and doing this. It was awesome.


  1. Did you run clockwise or counter clockwise? Do you feel one has an advantage over the other?


    1. Hi Eric, we did it counter-clockwise from the East Bank Trailhead. If you go clockwise, you will have a fairly boring first 12-15 miles, and then 30 miles of fun (though going that way would be harder to do if you had a bad day and had to do any of the last portion in the dark). Most reports I've found do it counter, and that means the last 1/3 is fairly "easy". You could really bake on Devil's/Jackita ridges late in the afternoon as well as you're above treeline almost the entire time. Make sure and look for recent trip reports on water too; we went early enough that we were soaked all day, but I know by August that many of the streams dry up when the snow is gone. When I first started looking at it, I never really considered doing it clockwise...

  2. Thanks for your reply. Just scouting it out. Planning on running it in the next few week

  3. By the way nice finish at WR50! I was the guy welcoming the finishers as the crossed the line and handing out cold water.

    1. Thanks Eric, and thanks for being there with that ice-cold water! It definitely hit the spot. Please do let me know how it goes when you do it. Don't underestimate the overgrowth/blowdowns from Dry Creek Pass down to the East Bank Trail; it can be slow going (unless trail work has happened there; probably unlikely). I'm on gmail: bataa32

  4. I have run this loop twice and I agree with is better done ccw. Both times we had minimal snow except for a steep patch where the GT map says "difficult for stock." The first time, we used rocks as "ice axes."