Hiking The Three Fools Trail, Pasayten Wilderness


The Three Fools Trail is one of the few east-west trails in the Pasayten Wilderness, connecting the Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail, Approaching Goat Lakes, Pasayten Wilderness

to Ross Lake.

Ross Lake, from the Lightning Creek Trail

Starting on the PCT about 2 miles south of the Canadian Border the trails heads west, climbing through light forest onto south facing slopes and through a burned area from a 1996 fire.

Three Fools Trail, traversing a ridge below an old burned area


On the Three Fools Trail, Atop a knoll

After a few miles the trail reaches a series of knolls with fantastic views west to the Pickets and Mt Baker and south all along the Cascade Crest.

Flowers on the Three Fools Trail

Traversing along flowers grasslands

Just above Big Face Creek

The Three Fools Trail starts a steep descent to a crossing of Big Face Creek.

The trail becomes faint and brushy on the descent and once crossing the creek regains all that altitude immediately arriving at a ridge above Elbow Basin.

Sunset at Elbow Basin

Moon Rise on the Three Fools Trail

The trail is truly magnificent here, (and somewhat difficult to follow) expansive meadows, clumps of trees and awe inspiring views. For 2 miles the path follows the top of the ridge, passing Freeze Out Lake.

Hiking in the meadows, above Elbow Basin

On the Three Fools Trail, looking across to Cascade Crest

Dropping more than 3,500 feet in three and half miles the trail reaches Three Fools Creek. The next two miles of trail (until you reach the border of the North Cascades National Park) are some of the most difficult miles of “trail” I have ever hiked! Hundreds of downed trees, brush completely covering the trail so thick that it takes quite an effort to just push through make this truly a trail for fools! Or anyone who enjoys true wilderness!

4 thoughts on “Hiking The Three Fools Trail, Pasayten Wilderness

  1. Hey Andy, I found your beautiful photos here just after I messages you on fb about this trail. Great to see these. Thank you!

    Randy Godfrey

    • When are you planning to start the trek? I will definitely be doing the eastern part in july, from Horseshoe Basin, heading west, to at least Cathedral…That trail is easy, and gets good maintenance, the Chewuch Trail is commonly left until last and often has hundreds of deadfall along it …

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