Stevens North to Stehekin: 100 Miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, Washington

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14114A, Backpack


  • Backpack through remote wilderness in one of the most beautiful sections of the PCT
  • Ride a boat down Lake Chelan
  • Enjoy enchanting lakes, mountain vistas, and alpine meadows


  • Delicious vegetarian-friendly meals
  • Experienced leader team
  • Food cache to lighten your pack


DatesAug 23–Sep 3, 2014
Difficulty4 (out of 5)
StaffMelinda Goodwater

Trip Overview

The Trip

Do you love the mountains? Would you like to explore a 100-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail with an experienced leader team?  Would you like to camp in secret camp sites and watch the light change across the face of Glacier Peak, the hidden mountain of the Cascades? 

Then join us as we hike what some say is the most beautiful section of the PCT, and see what you say. We will start at Stevens Pass. For the next ten days we will travel north on the PCT, crossing no roads until we end our hike in the Stehekin Valley. We will camp at a succession of mountain lakes, travel along high, open ridges, and pass through alpine meadows and ancient forests in the valleys. At the end of our hike we will spend our last night in tent cabins at Stehekin Valley Ranch, with its famous pies and hot showers, within sound of the rushing Stehekin River. In the morning we will take a shuttle bus down to the head of Lake Chelan, a 55-mile-long inland fjord thrusting deep into the mountains from the plains of eastern Washington. We will ride the Lady of the Lake boat downlake to Fields Point landing, where a shuttle bus will pick us up for the ride back to our cars at Stevens Pass. If you love the mountains and like to hike through gorgeous flowery meadows and camp near high lakes, if you are up for a rugged hike with full wilderness immersion, then this is the trip for you.


Day 1: We will meet for dinner, introductions, and an equipment check at a campground 10-15 miles west of Stevens Pass and spend the night here.

Day 2: We will drive up to Stevens Pass, load our packs, and hit the trail on the way to our first camp at Lake Janus.

Days 3-11: For the next nine days, we will head north on the PCT, traveling about a hundred miles to our destination at Stehekin. Our campsites are not fixed, nor our daily mileages; we will need to average ten miles a day. If we do more than that in the first few days we may take a layover day. We will travel through a landscape of passes, ridges, alpine meadows, and mountain lakes as we pass around the southern, western, and then northern sides of Glacier Peak. This volcanic mountain has 11 glaciers and is over 10,000 feet high, yet is not visible from any highway; only those who travel into the backcountry may admire its valleys, cliffs, and glaciers. Place names such as Fire Creek Pass, Kodak Peak, and Lake Valhalla give some flavor of the beauty of the landscape through which we will pass. 

To help ease our load, midway along our route we will pick up a food cache brought to us by a horse packer. The route around Glacier Peak had been rerouted since a major storm in 2003 washed out sections of trail and destroyed bridges. In the fall of 2011, the original route was reopened, so our trip will get to appreciate the recently renovated trail and bridges. 

Day 12: On our last day, after a hot shower, dinner, a good night’s sleep, and a hearty breakfast, we will ride the bus to the lake, then take the boat across the lake, then ride another bus back to Stevens Pass -- arriving there by mid-afternoon on September 3. After loading our vehicles, we will say our good-byes and spread to the wind. Boat, bus, and shuttle fees are included in the trip price.




Getting There

We will meet at a campground near Stevens Pass for dinner on August 23. Directions will be provided. Cars will be left in the parking lot at Stevens Pass the next morning. The leader will help to coordinate carpooling from Portland or Seattle. The closest major airports are Seattle/Tacoma and Portland. Amtrak provides service to both Seattle and Portland. The leaders will provide a roster so participants can arrange carpools from Portland or Seattle.

Accommodations and Food

The trip price includes all meals from dinner on day one through lunch on day twelve. Group camping gear will be provided. Creating masterpieces from freeze-dried and home-dehydrated fruits and vegetables is a hobby your leader cheerfully enjoys. You may even find yourself signing up for future trips for the food! A nutritious, high-energy, non-red meat diet is planned. Any food allergies or limitations should be indicated to the leader as far in advance of the trip as possible. Although red meat will not be served, chicken and fish are on the menu. Vegetarians can be accommodated, but participants unable to eat dairy products should consider another outing. Participants will be divided into cook crews so everyone will have a chance to prepare meals a couple of times during the trip. 

Trip Difficulty

This trip rates four on a five-point scale (moderately strenuous) and the rewards are equal to the effort.  We will hike about 100 miles with about 15,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, in ten days, perhaps with one layover day. A food cache will help to lighten our loads. Elevations will mostly be in the range of 4,000 to 6,000 feet. This is definitely a trip for fit and experienced backpackers. If you have any questions about your fitness and experience as they relate to this trip, please discuss them with the leader in detail.  

Equipment and Clothing

Trip members furnish their own backpack, sleeping bag, tent, and other personal gear, including eating utensils. This must not weigh more than 25 pounds -- and if you can keep it below 20 pounds, all the better. The Club will provide commissary equipment, including pots, stoves and cooking utensils, and all food. For water treatment, the Club will provide a group water filter at camp and purification tablets during the day. Your share of commissary, including bear canister, food and cook gear, will weigh 10 -12 pounds to start, decreasing each day, increasing when we pick up the food cache, and then decreasing again. Your pack must have sufficient volume to hold a bear canister. We will have a group first-aid kit; you should bring personal supplies and medications. You must bring mosquito repellent, sunscreen, capacity for at least 2 quarts of water, a hat with a brim, and clothing suitable for possible rain and cold along with well broken-in hiking boots.



Green Trails Maps Inc.:

  • McGregor Mtn #81
  • Glacier Peak #112
  • Holden #113
  • Benchmark Mtn #144


  • Spring, Ira and Harvey Manning, 100 Hikes in Washington’s Glacier Peak Region. The Mountaineers.
  • Lorain, Douglas, Backpacking Washington. Wilderness Press.


The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater understanding, advocacy and participation in the goals of the Club.

We will be hiking in an established wilderness area, away from roads and civilization, where we can appreciate past conservation efforts and consider what yet remains to be done. To minimize our impact, we will take special care to practice the Leave No Trace ethic.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under permits from Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, and North Cascades National Park.



Melinda Goodwater has been leading trips for Sierra Club Outings for over 20 years and has over 100 outings under her belt. She quit her full-time job when it got in the way of her trips and has been leading adventures ever since. She leads treks from Nepal to the Rockies and Sierra to the desert southwest. Melinda is a very amateur naturalist and particularly enjoys finding unique places off the beaten track. Along with years of experience leading remote and high-elevation outings, Melinda has training in CPR and is a wilderness first responder with 80 hours of first aid training. She welcomes you to join her and share her love of the wilderness.

Assistant Leader:

Glenn Gillis has been leading Sierra Club national outings for over 25 years. Starting his outdoor career as a student with Outward Bound, he now leads backpacking, bicycle touring ,and kayaking tours with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Potomac Pedalers Touring Club, and Sierra Club. Deeply involved in land preservation and new park and trail creation, he is a member of the National Parks Conservation Association, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, and Wilderness Society. Glenn is also a director of the Potomac Heritage Trail Association and has been working to complete the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.

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