Trail running in Trapper Creek Wilderness offers a unique experience compared to other Gifford Pinchot National Forest areas. The Trapper Creek Trailhead is just north of Carson, WA. While some routes are well-maintained, like the Trapper Creek Trail (#192), many are considered “primitive.” Due to steeper terrain, less frequent maintenance, and potential downed trees, these trails can be challenging to follow.

Standing at the Trapper Creek trail sign.

The Trapper Creek Wilderness is relatively small, but trails can be linked together to create loops of varying distances. The most popular loop, Trapper Creek and Observation Peak Loop is roughly 16 miles long and has a 4300-foot ascent, including the climb up and down Observation Peak. Most trails in the Wilderness are rated as challenging due to elevation gain, uneven terrain, and sometimes long distances. Be prepared for a demanding run.

Observation Peak offers many mountain views.

The window for comfortable trail running is shorter compared to lower areas. Summer can be hot and dry, while winter brings snow and rushing creeks that can make trails inaccessible. Fall offers the best conditions, pleasant temperatures, and less chance of encountering lingering snow.

Since some trails are primitive, you must have a map, compass, or GPS device and know how to use them. Downloading offline maps on your phone and/or watch can also be a helpful backup. Trapper Creek Wilderness receives fewer visitors than other areas.

Mt. St. Helens from Observation Peak.

Overall, trail running in Trapper Creek Wilderness is a rewarding experience for those seeking a challenging adventure in a beautiful setting. Just be sure to be prepared for the unique conditions and prioritize safety.

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