A saunter up Stetattle Creek

Stetattle Creek
Tell me about a path less traveled and I will take it.
In the North Cascades National Park, there is such a plethora of paths to choose from when planning an adventure that it seems so many can become overlooked. On cold winter days, when light is little, I aim to try out these less-traveled paths.
Stetattle Creek trail is one of those paths. Perched on the edge of the Skagit River’s Seattle City Light town of Diablo, it is a short drive from the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. More often than not, it is bypassed by adventurers in summer aiming to conquer the feat of Sourdough Mountain, the trailheads less than a mile apart from one another. But when snow is heavy on the summits of the tall peaks, Stetattle Creek is a great late fall and early winter jaunt.

Erin & Stetattle Creek(Title) Stetattle Creek reflected in the winter sunlight that reaches down the valley (Above) Erin explores the unique rock slide along Stetattle Creek trail
Unique ice formationsUnique ice formations appear on a downed tree’s roots along the creek

Stetattle Creek has an historical edge. It served as an old boundary between the Upper Skagits and tribes to the north, as well as later providing a route for mountaineers to access the remote Picket Range. The trail’s entirety, 3-4 miles one-way, is spent winding among smooth river rock and dense coniferous forest composed of Western red cedar, Douglas fir, and Western hemlock.

Tributary creekSeveral ice-coated tributary streams flow into Stetattle Creek along the path

Ice-coated blade of grass

A blade of grass encapsulated by ice
Frozen waterfallA frozen waterfall glimmers in the light rarely touching this trail in winter

With only momentary glimpses of adjacent Davis Peak and Pyramid Peak to the south, Stetattle Creek does not offer many scenic vistas. The blue hue of glacial melt, an icicle engulfing moss, a single bird chirping. These are more likely to catch your eye. What this trail does offer is a time for contemplation.

Blue hueThe blue hue of glacial melt reflected in Stetattle Creek
Icicle & moss
The vibrant green of moss is reflected in an icicle
Pyramid PeakA momentary glimpse of Pyramid Peak along the trail

As I saunter around each bend, there is a renewed reminder of the importance of solitude and of the quieter beauties of nature.
Try a path less traveled today and tell us about it. What discoveries did you make on your saunter?

Photos courtesy of Kelsi Franzen.


  1. Saul Weisberg

    Stettale is one of my favorite trails — and one of the first I hiked when I was a climbing ranger in the early 80’s. It’s a great early season or winter hike, and the further you go — the further you are….

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