At A Glance
TRAIL LENGTH: 17 miles, round-trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 4,746 feet
HIGH POINT: 5,384'
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Summer
POPULARITY: Trail highly used up to Cascade Pass. Lighter use beyond. Few hikers venture all the way up to the mine.
GOOD FOR: Intermediate to advanced hikers/backpackers.
WATCH FOR: Bears, avalanche danger, high water at stream crossings, early season snowfields and blowdown, no pets allowed, no cell reception
FEES & PERMITS: No pass needed to park at trailhead. Free permit needed for overnight camping at backcountry sites.
COORDINATES: 48°28.779'N 121°01.489'W
LOCATION: Located in Chelan County, in the South Unit of North Cascades National Park in Horseshoe Basin.
HIGHLIGHTS: Mine, waterfalls, sweeping valleys, glaciers, wildlife
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE: Black Warrior Mine is on the National Register of Historic Sites. About 895 feet of tunnel is still accessible. It is an excellent example of a late 19th/early 20th century Washington hard rock mine.
- Take exit 230 and head east on WA-20 to Marblemount.
- Alternatively, if coming from south of Arlington, take exit 208 and head east on WA-530/State Route 530 NE and then head east on WA-20 to Marblemount.
- If you will be camping in the backcountry, stop at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount to acquire a free permit.
- Continue east on WA-20 until you reach a 90-degree turn in the road.
- At this turn continue straight on a bridge over the Skagit River and onto Cascade River Road.
- Follow Cascade River Road for 22.9 miles to the Cascade Pass trailhead parking area.
FROM THE PARKING AREA:
- There are several interpretive signs to view around the parking area.
- The trailhead is located along the northeast edge of the parking area and has a large information kiosk right next to it.
- The trail itself is well marked with signposts. Follow signs pointing toward Cascade Pass and climb up 37+ switchbacks to reach the top.
- From Cascade Pass, follow the signposts that point you toward Pelton Basin.
- There is a signpost at the top of the side trail that leads down to Pelton Basin Camp. This is an excellent halfway point if you wish to do Black Warrior as a multi-day trip. The camp is popular, so don't forget to acquire your free permit ahead of time.
- Continuing past Pelton Basin Camp you will follow signposts that say "Stehekin".
- About a half mile beyond Pelton Basin Camp you will pass through a gap and see the Stehekin River Valley laid out before you.
- After traveling down 13 switchbacks you will cross Doubtful Creek and then traverse a very steep talus slope as you head down toward the valley.
- Arriving at a switchback you will see a sign with an arrow pointing toward the trail to Horseshoe Basin.
- Follow the trail into the basin and you will eventually spot a large pile of mine tailings at the base of the far cliff.
- Scramble up a glacial moraine and the tailing pile to reach the mine itself.
THINGS TO SEE:
- Cascade Pass
- Pelton Basin Backcountry Camp
- Headwaters of Stehekin River
- Horseshoe Basin Entrance
- Black Warrior Mine
Black Warrior Mine is included on the National Register of Historic Sites. A weatherworn plaque situated at the entrance to the mine reads as follows:
"Rumors of gold in the 1880's Spurred M. M. Kingman and Al Pershall to prospect along Basin Creek. In 1891, sale of their claims, Black Warrior and Blue Devil, for $30,000 kindled gold fever anew. Soon "discoveries" dotted Horseshoe Basin.
The prospectors' dreams were grand: a 4-mi. tunnel under Horseshoe Basin's pinnacles to connect with mines on Thunder Creek, a railroad up Lake Chelan. But by 1914 their optimism was buried by avalanches, rockslides and transportation barriers.
After World War II, shortages of copper, lead and zinc brought miners back to the Basin. In this mine entrance they built living quarters and a room for a generator and tools. The generator provided electricity and compressed air for drilling. The cascade outside the entrance supplied a water system complete with a flush toilet and hot water tank. A mine-to-market road was built from Lake Chelan into the Basin. Yet the small amount of quality ore, transportation problems and weather proved insurmountable. The larger mining equipment was sold for taxes in 1959. The equipment you see is all that remained.
The grizzled mountain men who prospected the country above Lake Chelan carried stories of the area's beauty to the outside world. Today, Horseshoe Basin sits quiet again, its silence punctuated only by falling water, avalanches and the footsteps travelers seeking riches of a different kind."