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Gothic Basin - Washington | Trail, Camping, and What to Expect

Gothic Basic, Washington, is a beautiful basin accessed via a long trail from Mountain Loop Highway. The basin is surrounded by stunning peaks, including Gothic Peak and Del Campo Peak. You might also catch sight of Morning Star Peak, Lewis Peak, and Vesper Peak.

The basin is part of Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area and is a sensitive area, home to many endangered and threatened species. You can hike in for the day or bring in your backpacking gear and spend the night.

Gothic Basin

Gothic Basin: At a Glance

  • Trailhead Coordinates: 48.0261, -121.4425

  • Hike Length: 9.2 miles round trip

  • Elevation Gain: 2,840'

  • High Point: 5,200'

  • Difficulty: Hard

Gothic Basin
Gothic Basin and Gothic Lake

Hiking to Gothic Basin

The hike to Gothic Basin isn't an easy one. It starts from Mountain Loop Highway and continues about 4.5 miles through difficult terrain. There are very steep areas, as well as some sections that are rocky and require a bit of scrambling.

Looking down on Gothic Basin
Looking down on Gothic Basin

The hike starts at Barlow Pass, about 1 mile down the closed road along the Sauk River. You'll walk along the highway for 200 feet or so before passing two signs.

You'll hike along until you find the trail headed off to the right (marked by an outhouse). This is the last place to use the restroom before heading off into the woods (make sure to pack out all your waste).

You should also keep in mind that the area does keep snow for quite some time. So, even late in the season, you might have to deal with some. Make sure to keep this fact (and any tentative snow bridges) in mind.

Gothic Lake
If you can find a good spot, you can camp next to Gothic Lake.

The hike leads you through sometimes hard-to-follow sections of the trail that include snow crossings and scrambles. Once you get to the basin, you'll see the gorgeous Gothic lake and a number of towering rock faces, tarns, and hopefully some wildlife.

Camping at Gothic Basin

Gothic Basin might not be a super popular place to camp, but it is an incredibly beautiful one. On a weekend, you'll still want to get there pretty early because there will still be a number of groups who want to claim limited spots.

When looking for a spot to camp, make sure that you pick an area that has a steady, stable surface, like rock or dirt. Don't camp on any greenery, including meadows and grass.

Gothic Basin Pano
A panorama of Gothic Basin.

Don't forget to bring a bear can, too, as there are no places to store food via bear lines.

To Do Nearby

If you're looking for something to do before or after hiking to Gothic Basin, you might want to consider the following:

Hiking Mount Pilchuck is one of the most popular and rewarding hikes anywhere in Washington. It's a challenging 5.4 miles with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain.

The view from the fire lookout on Mt. Pilchuck.
The view from the fire lookout on Mt. Pilchuck.

Visiting the Big 4 Ice Caves

The famous Big 4 Ice Caves are another great place to spend time near Gothic Basin. Access is fairly easy from a wide gravel trail and boardwalk path.

Ice Cave
The amazing Big 4 Ice Caves

Remember, the trail and the road to the trailhead will be closed from May 15 through June 30 for trail work, as noted by the WTA.

Spend Time Along the Sauk River

If you love water-based activities as much as you do hiking, you might want to check out the many access points for the Sauk River.

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