The Return to Wenatchee/Cle Elum (pics) | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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The Return to Wenatchee/Cle Elum (pics)


Explorer Addict
October 5, 2003
Reaction score
City, State
Lynnwood WA
Year, Model & Trim Level
99 XL / 4x4 / 4.0 ohv
Albino and I decided to return to the Wenatchee national forest above Cle Elum to explore a bit more. Our original intentions were to follow the Fortune Creek Trail 4w301 to it’s end and camp at Gallagher Head Lake. But…………………………..

A few weekends back we were in this same area and were not able to make it very far at all due to the snow. For that report follow the link.

Friday morning found us starting up the 4w301. The first leg of this trail is relatively easy with a couple stream crossings to challenge the Explorer departure angle. We made it through the first leg without any difficulty and crossed up to the second leg of the trail headed in to Gallagher Head Lake. The trail changes it’s personality a bit on this second leg but is still passable to a stock Ex if you don’t mind dragging the frame and your bumpers now and again. I chose to run this section in Auto 4x4 and it actually performed better than I expected. We traveled a considerable section of the trail before we ran into snow. The first snow pile was on a narrow section and was passable but we decided to hike up a bit and see how much more snow was around the corner. What we found was that we couldn’t get through the draw due to snow up to an adults waste (poor Albino sunk a bit :D). We stopped for a bit to check the maps and found that we were just under a half mile from the lake. GRRRRR. Oh well it gave us a moment to play around in the alpine and let the kids stretch there legs.

After dropping back down the second leg of the 301 we decided to explore the fire road and look for a good campsite. Albino got a chance to try out his new winch dragging a tree out of the road, then we went on up. Toward the end of the road there had been a slide that had taken out most of the road. We skirted it with a few inches to spare only to find roads end right around the corner. It made for a beautiful view and lunch spot. But upon further investigation of the slide area we found the road to be crumbling and were grateful that we hadn’t slid on down the cliff with the dirt and rock. After lunch we dropped back down and found a nice campsite at the top end of the first leg of the 301 and settled in for a night of camping and a bit of RC 4 wheeling.

Saturday morning found us headed up the Van Epps Mine Trail 4w302 which had stopped us with snow not too far up a few weekends back. This trail is a bit more challenging than the 301 and is mostly made up of rock piles. Many of the stream crossings are deep “V’s” and we both slammed the front and rear hitches into countless rocks. Not to mention my little incident with a large branch popping up and wedging itself between my rear shock and axle. The trail had a few hairy spots and a bit of it got rather narrow but in the end we found ourselves sitting just under 6’000 feet on the top of Van Epps Pass. Here we stopped for lunch and a small hike. The Views were incredible!!!!! Sadly as we looked down the trail on the other side it quickly turned into deep snow so we were not able to travel all the way in to the Van Epps Mine itself. Down we went and back to camp to drag out the RC rock crawlers and the kids drug out there mini rock crawlers as well. Around dusk we had a visitor wander right in to camp. She was a pretty fair sized Mule Deer doe. No fear whatsoever as she walked within 5-10 feet of my front bumper. Sadly my pictures didn’t catch anything but black. I did however get a picture of another the next day coming off the 305.

Sunday morning was to be our last day so we broke down camp early and decided to run the Mine to Market trail 4w305. This trail proved to be a bit more challenging and quickly became severely overgrown. It was difficult to see the road for the branches brushing across my windshield. We didn’t go up all the way as we decided that this one wasn’t worth the scars it was leaving. I found the nasty stream cuts and rocks fun, but I don’t like scratches that go very deep from the overhanging trees. And Phil has got some U-bolts to cut down if he plans on getting a socket on there in the future. We only got a couple pics in the clear areas of this trail.

All in all a good weekend, but I still want to see the end of the 302 as well as fish Gallagher Head Lake.
Below I have attached several pictures. I tried to order them and provide a brief caption to tie into the write up. If I messed any of it up correct me Albino. It was difficult while reviewing 73 pictures to remember them all and pick out the best 20 or so.

Going up the 301


Snowy end to the road on the 301




A few views from the "End" of the 301


Turning around on the 301



Coming down the 301



Going up the 302. I didn't get many pictures of this trail as ......well I was concentrating I guess :confused:

Views from Van epps pass

The draw in this picture is were the Van epps mine actually sits

On top of the world

A view from Van Epps Pass down on Spirit lake

The snowy end to the 302

A few shots on the 305



Phil trying out his new toy on a fire road

A nice view on that same fire road

Our camp on the 301

Kids posing with their rock crawlers

Phil making friends with his rc truck

And lastly a deer off the 305

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As always... looks like fun. :cool: Phil, I assume the winch worked well? If I had the money now, I'd drop the cash for that same winch. :thumbsup:

As usual, great pics. I really wish I lived closer to ya'll, as most the trails you guys usually take looks like stuff I could conquer. :D


What was so bad about that memory? :rolleyes:

We made it both ways and we're still here,,,,,,,,,right? :p

Although I wouldn't do it again :cool:

you guys are crazy. my friend rolled off the sdie of a cliff doing that in a spot JUST like that. one person was thrown out and the truck rolled over him. no joke,. it was a full size dodge. he lived.

n16ht5 said:
you guys are crazy.

HMM, that's the same conclusion we came up with. We had 3' between the edge and our tires, but like I said,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I won't do that again!

Well we made it back up to this area again, and the snow is finally all gone allowing us to explore the Fortune Creek Drainage all the way back to it's rocky, mountainous end :thumbsup:

I figure you all have had enough pictures of our trucks on this terrain above, so below I have just posted a few of the scenery and the termination points for the trails. Ok and one of our trucks :D

First off we went in to camp at Gallagher Head Lake which sits shy of 6000 feet by a bit. The trail is as reported in the earlier parts of the thread as we had made it nearly all the way in before being stopped by snow on that attempt. There are a couple of nice campsites at the lake. And it is an absolutely gorgeous Alpine meadow that you find yourself waking to. The basin is quite large with a tiny little pothole lake that on average is under 6 feet deep with a few deeper spots. The entire valley is surrounded by peaks from 8-9 thousand feet tall.

By looking I figured there would be no fish in there, but Phil of course had to prove me wrong and catch one of the 2 fish living in the lake ......twice.... And as always the deer were abundant and not in the slightest bit shy. Only flaw with the area was that nights dip down close to freezing due to the elevation. I realize many of you live at that elevation, but you have to realize that when you start at sea level 6k' is high! Kinda like going from 7 to 11 thousand feet ;)

The next morning we woke and headed up the last leg of the 301 that we had not been able to get to before. The trail does tighten up a bit after the lake and there are a few good ruts and off-camber sections with a couple inches between your tire and a 1500' plus cliff :eek: In the end it was a rather short little stretch of trail and took us to the base of a gorgeous cinder bluff laced with mineral veins and old mining equipment.

After dropping back to the lake we decided to head up the 304 Hawkins Mountian Mine Trail. It started out with some good ruts and hairy off-camber stuff similar to the upper leg of the 301. Shiloh teased me about laying her down so she could smell the flowers. She didn't laugh on the way back down when I leaned her over to let her look down a couple thousand feet of rockslides though :p

We took advadntage of the first good parking spot and hiked the rest of this trail expecting it to get much worse. In reality the trail improved dramatically and looked more like a dirt road for a considerable part. The only serious obstacles were 3 hill climbs that likely would have either seriously challenged my rig with the locker engaged, and very well may have required the assistance of Phils Mile Marker. They were pretty steep 45 to 60 degree inclines with good sized rocks randomly placed. Who knows though I probably could have made it. There is also a section just before the end of the trail that is a meadow crossing full of mud with ruts getting close to 3' deep. There is a bypass, but I almost would hate to add to the damage to that pretty Alpine Meadow. The trail ends right at the base of Hawkins Mountain and if you look up you can see the old mining cart trail as it snakes around the peak. Phil and Shiloh made me jog the last 1/4 mile of trail while they rested, so I did not bother climbing up on the peak to check it out in closer detail. This is one that JR and Arsoul may find at least mildly interesting due to the rocky climbs. Everyone should find it worth the drive just because it is GORGEOUS!!!!!!

Below are several pictures, Photos never due justice to obstacle, but trust me on the hill climb picture it was steep enough to make my Hiking boots continually lose traction :D

Gallagher Head Lake

Phil catching the only fish. Of course he kicked me and the spinner rod off the lake saying it made too much noise. He did kindly rig me up a fly line, but I thinks it was his ulterior motive knowing I would spend most of my time untangling the line :p

And our ever present camphost. Sunday morning she wandered right in to warm herself at the fire with us. Of course neither one of us had a camera in our pocket and didn't dare move lest we scare her. Here's one as she wandered back out toward the woods though.

And here's a shot of the end of the 301. It ends as it buts right up against the base of this mountain. Look closely and you can see the trail.

And a closer view when we were actually up there

This photo really does not due justice to the actual incline of this hill, but gives a rough idea. Now just stand it up to around 50-60 dergree angle and you get the idea. Lets just say many of the trees carry scars from winch lines.

Again the photo does not due justice, but I stepped into the puddle you see and the bank was nearly to my waist.

And here is the meadow at the end of the 304. Hawkins Mountain is the big bulk on the left of the screen. I thought I had the peak in the photo but I must have flinched.

And lastly your only truck photo. Lookey at them chicken shi** trucks sitting down there while they hike an easy trail. ;)


All in all a good weekend. Thanks for hanging with us youngsters Phil. Next time though more of NWExplorers need to join us, and help me keep Phil from leaving early due to the cold. :p :cool:


Did ya'll attempt that mud hole?

j602 said:
Did ya'll attempt that mud hole?

Nope. We walked in to that point and left the trucks down below :rolleyes:
Thought the road was going to get bad after a few off-camber sections leaning us over the cliffs, but in reality the road got a lot better ;)

next time ill join you guys. ill try the hillclimb and mud too :confused: : :exp:

It'll be a while for me.

I need to put on my Body Lift and modify the front hitch to get it higher :( I dug it into the far side of one of the stream crossings and bent up the mount. I took it off before we ran these sections of trails.

Keep an eye out on this thread for our next try.

I promise, Bryce, I'll stay the second day and we'll run those trails and the 302 all the way to the mine :D We just need to camp in a warmer, less windy place :thumbsup:

Signed; The Crochetchy Old Man :p

Dreamr, Damn you and your Johnsonville Cheese Brauts :fire:

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the trail itself is like the one i took up by Grand Marais, MN in Superior National Forest, of course we didnt have the big mountains and the trail was not as long. Its nice to have a truck to take offroadin and camping like that! BTW, nice Limited and 99 XL!