Explore the Hidden Crabtree Valley

This hike feels like a secret, but the kind of secret that’s too good to share.

Crabtree Valley is a remote Pacific Northwest paradise, and the trail through these acres is sweet and simple. It leads travelers through a barrier of boulder down into a valley that’s been protected from fire, logging, and winter storms. You can find spectacular and serene old-growth trees here, as well as a sparkling lake and quiet meadows.

The trail is an out-and-back that starts at the Crabtree Valley Trailhead. It’s starts off with a little boulder-clambering, and then leads down a forested road. The trail bends, and starts to wind down the valley towards the lake. Experienced travelers may be tempted to bushwhack a straighter path to the bottom, but be wary of the steepness of the slope.

A few miles in you’ll hit concrete barricades, at which you’ll need to take a sharp left and hike for a bit. The trees open up here into a grassy meadow. Continue along the path, and you’ll find yourself at the lakeshore. There’s a lightly trodden trail around the loop of the lake to explore, as well as several old rocky roads to wander down that lead to dead ends. And somewhere in the tangle of forest grows the giant King Tut, a massive Douglas fir.

This is a hike that sees few travelers, so it’s a wonderful getaway spot for someone seeking solitude in nature. You’ll see some amazing old-growth trees (500 – 1,000 years old) along the way, sheltered from harm for decades by the area’s encircling ring of rocks that were carved thousands of years ago by an Ice Age glacier. The area is also protected from humans by the government as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Directions from Sweet Home:

Take Highway 20 east until you hit Quartzville Road, then turn north. Keep driving another 20 miles. Turn left onto the S. Fork Packers Road, and then take a right on Yellowstone Access Road. You’ll hit a T in the road, where you’ll take a right and drive another 0.9 miles until the road ends in a wall of boulders. Park here, climb over the boulders and you’ll find the trailhead.

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