White Pass Scenic Byway
One of the most scenic paved highways through the Cascades is Highway 12 over White Pass. Because the highway is often a twisty two lane road, it can be a slow way of getting over the mountains. Still, for a large number of Washington residents, it is the quickest or their best access for outdoor adventures. Over the last several years, there has been lots of construction trying to improve the highway, making more lanes and corner straightening. White Pass is open year round, and with an elevation of 4500 feet, it is the highest pass open in the winter. Below are some of the sights along the way as well as some links to more of my pictures and information about some popular stopping points.
WillhiteWeb.com - Washington Sights
This overlook offers some views of basalt columns, and some overgrowing views of Mt. Rainier. The overlook also offers some picnic tables, restrooms and interpretive signs.
Lava Creek Falls
Easy to miss, look for a small pullout large enough for just a few vehicles on the outside edge of the road. In the distance is Lava Creek Falls, a beautiful falls in the lush green backdrop of fir trees.
For locals, its just another viewpoint of "The Mountain" but for visitors from the east, it may be the first time they have seen Mt. Rainier. There are a few interpretive signs but that's about it for this stop.
White Pass Ski Area
In winter, White Pass is abuzz with skiers, both downhill and cross-country. In summer, not much happens.
A beautiful mountain lake accessible by vehicle, right off the highway. With a campground and boat launch, Leach Lake is popular in summer but quiet the rest of the year.
Pacific Crest Trail
Just past the summit of White Pass, you’ll see signs for the Pacific Crest Trail on each side of the road. This is the trail which runs 2,650 miles through the mountain ranges from the Mexico line to Canadian line.
The highway passes right along side Dog Lake for a short segment. A campground is along the shore, well signed from the highway. You can launch a small boat or raft to fish or just float around on a hot day. Fishing is for rainbow trout, jumbo rainbow and brook trout.
Probably the most popular stop near White Pass, Clear Creek Falls is just off the side of the road with stunning downward views into the waterfall and distant mountain views to the east.
Clear Lake Recreation Area
Clear lake is located at 3,011 feet, just west of Rimrock Lake, five miles from White Pass. It is popular to fish. There is a Forest Service campground, picnic and boat launch area for access.
This is a boat launch and day use picnic site along the shore of Rimrock Lake with fire stands, picnic tables and an outhouse.
Rimrock is known for its camping, fishing, boating and wildlife watching. The lake is actually a reservoir formed by the Tieton Dam blocking the Tieton River. Because the mountains around the reservoir are pretty steep and forested, the views make for nice viewing from all directions.
Tours of the dam are not offered but incase you have an interest, I have toured the dam and wanted to post the pictures somewhere.
Oak Creek Wildlife Area
Just before Naches, the Oak Creek Wildlife Area has close-up views of hundreds of elk during winter feeding at stations to keep them alive when other food sources are buried in snow.
Lava Creek Falls
Clear Creek Falls
Pacific Crest Trail crossing
White Pass Ski Area
Turn-off for the Clear Lake Recreation Area
Leach Lake from the White Pass Campground
Dog Lake and Spiral Mountain
Bethel Ridge Road
Kloochman Rock from Rimrock Lake
Goose Egg Mountain above Rimrock Lake