(Extracted from the Cle Elum Ranger Distinct Trail Guide)
LOCATION: This rugged, mountainous area is bounded on the north by the Cooper River, on the south by the forest boundary (just north of I-90), on the west by Lake Kachess, and on the east by Lake Cle Elum and the Cle Elum River. The highest elevation is 5854 feet at Thorp Mountain; the lowest elevation is approximately 2400 Feet at the Kachess Ridge trailhead and the lakeshores of Lakes Kachess and Cle Elum.
GEOLOGY: Major drainages include Thorp,, French Cabin, and Silver creeks. There are many short, steep creeks throughout the area. Aside from the large lakes to the east and west, there are only two small lakes, Located in the northern part: Thorp Lake and Little Joe Lake. The major creek valleys are U-shaped, showing that they were carved by alpine glaciers during the last ice age. Larger glaciers also carved the valleys of Lakes Kachess and Cle Elum. The mountains and ridges have a mean altitude of 5000 feet. Red Mountain and the peaks and ridges from Thorp Mountain to South Peak are fairly jagged with steep cliffs. Metamorphic rock and Swauk Formation sandstones are found in the north part. Thorp Mountain and Kachess Ridge are composed primarily of andesite and the rocks east of there are mostly basalt with some sandstones visible in the Dormerie Peak area.
VEGETATION: The slopes and valley bottoms are heavily forested with Douglas-fir, hemlock, grand fir, and spruces. Ridgetops also have subalpine firs and alpine meadows full of colorful wildflowers. Alder and vine maples are iouiid in avalanche clearings, along drainages, and in clearcuts.
WILDLIFE: The higher peaks, ridges, and meadows are home to mountain goats and, depending on the time of year, elk and deer which also live in the lower forest. Other inhabitants include bear, coyotes, marmots (in the high rocky meadows), and many smaller mammals of the rodent and weasel families. Birds include ravens, large and small hawks, owls, woodpeckers (including the pileatcd), and many other forest birds such as varied thrushes and juncos.
HISTORY: There isnít much historical information available on this area. It can he surmised that Native Americans used it for hunting and food gathering since they are known to have lived in and traveled the surrounding country extensively. White people probably first came as trappers and prospectors and later to harvest timber. Logging continues at the north end in Thorp and French Cabin Creek drainages. Thorp Mountain has a fire lookout-one of the few remaining on the Weanatchee National Forest
Gregg Petrie ©2000