backpack: Siouxon Creek + Upper Siouxon, Wildcat & Chinook hikes
This is my third backpacking trip to Siouxon Creek this year. While waiting for the alpine areas in the mountains to be snow-free, we decided to spend more time at Siouxon, staying for three nights so we would have time to do more exploration. We did hikes that I haven’t done before, seeing waterfalls I hadn’t seen yet, and forded three streams, another new experience for me!
- distance & elevation gain to campsite: 3 miles, 700 ft. gain (before the wildfire & trailhead closure in 2020)
- day hike options: continue on the Siouxon Creek Trail
- best months: April – June
- location: nearest town: Amboy, WA
- land management: Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Mount Adams Ranger District
- trail conditions: Siouxon Creek Trail
- hike description: Washington Trails Association – Siouxon Creek
- permits: self-issued at the trailhead
- trailhead pass: NW Forest Pass required
- note: this area was heavily impacted by the 2020 Big Hollow Wildfire – see Safety Tips for Burned Areas
total mileage for four days: 19.5 miles with 2,870 ft. elevation gain
hike in from Siouxon Creek trailhead
On the first day, four of us hiked in and setup camp at the largest campsite along the creek. We had four more people joining us the next day, so we needed plenty of space for all of our tents. In the evening, we hiked back to Siouxon Falls to take photos at dusk and took the side trail to the top of the waterfall.
4.5 miles with 600 ft. elevation gain
On the second day, after our friends arrived and setup camp, we did a day hike to Chinook Falls, spending time relaxing on the rocks before turning around and hiking farther north on the Siouxon Trail. We probably hiked about 2 miles in, then turned around and went back to 14-mile falls to relax.
Back at camp, we setup some of our equipment for photo shoots for my upcoming “I Heart Backpacking” book. I shot photos of backpacking stoves, water filters, bear canisters and food sacks. We had a nice fire and relaxed all evening, and I spent time at dusk taking photos of the area around the campsite.
6 miles with 1,400 ft. elevation gain
On the third day, we took a leisurely approach in the morning, waiting for two more friends to arrive to go on a day hike with us. Just down the trail from our campsite, we took the Wildcat Trail to the creek and forded across. This was my first big creek crossing, but it was very easy. Siouxon isn’t like mountain streams with fast rushing glacial water… it’s more slow and steady, but the rocks can be slippery. The water went about halfway up my calves and I wore my trail running shoes, removing my socks and the insoles before crossing the creek. On the other side, I put them back on and we hiked up to Wildcat Falls (100 ft.). The trail is a little steep, but short. After spending time exploring the viewpoints for the waterfall, we went back down the trail to cross Wildcat Creek. This time, most of us crossed on a large log, which made it very easy. We then hiked for another mile to Chinook Creek through a forest with a dense understory, and then we forded the creek. Both Wildcat and Chinook creeks are smaller than Siouxon, but at Chinook, the water went over my knees. Both times, I left my socks and insoles in my shoes and they dried out quickly. On the other side of Chinook, we hiked back to 14-mile Falls and a few people jumped in the big pool at the base of the falls for a quick swim.
Back at camp, our day hiking friends departed and we made our dinners. We had a lot of fun making up a whole skit (think Appalachian Momma, Baby, Sister and random extras) about making pie out of random ingredients we brought with us. The crust was crushed up cookies, topped with chopped pieces of a chocolate biscuit cookie, and topped with about 16 roasted marshmallows. I didn’t try it since it had chocolate, which I am sadly allergic to.
3 miles with 370 ft. elevation gain
We hiked out the fourth day. Overall, it was a very relaxing and fun time.