BR3 - Cat Basin to Mt Ferry

PThough the distance is less than 10 miles, a full day should be allowed for this section, since routefinding between Mt. Carrie and Cream Lake Basin can slow the pace. An early start is advised, for campsites are infrequent and marginal between "Boston Charlie's Camp" and Cream Lake. In bad weather, a retreat out to Dodger Point and the Whiskey Bend trailhead on the Elwha River trail can be done in one long day, but it is better to allow two days for most parties. 

On the SE end, routes continue either S to Queets Basin (BR6) or E to Dodger Point (BR5). On the NW end this traverse can also be linked with BR2 (Appleton Pass to Cat Basin). See the published Climbers Guide for detailed approach information.


From Cat Basin, the High Divide trail continues SE to a dead end in rock cliffs between Cat Peak and Mt. Carrie. This unfinished trail was under construction but was stopped at the beginning of U.S. involvement in WWII. It would have joined the trail at Dodger Point. From the trail end, climb a few hundred feet to the ridge crest, a narrow, steep, brushy arete known as "The Catwalk," which is less difficult than it appears. Continue SE along "The Catwalk," either on the crest or a few feet down the N or S side, allowing an hour to traverse this arete. Just across "The Catwalk" is "Boston Charlie's" camp, named for an early mountain man.

From "Boston Charlie's" the trail gains several hundred feet in elevation and traverses the grassy S shoulder of Mt. Carrie. Continue on trail SE to Eleven Bull Basin in 1.5 hours travel from "Boston Charlie's." There is good running water here. Proceed SE on the well-beaten path, traversing between 5000 ft. and 5500 ft., to the spur ridge SW of Peak 5978. This is the prominent forested ridge that juts out and is visible from the shoulder of Carrie. This path stops at the larger gullies but is attained again usually by descending the other side. The main difficulty is the many gullies to be crossed.

Contour around the spur ridge SW of Peak 5978. Continue around on the trail for about 0.5 mile where the first view of lower Cream Lake is visible. Leave the main trail at the point just before the trail begins a steady descent. A cairn may mark the spot. (The reason for leaving the trail, which is very major at this pint, is because it funnels people down and ends in less than 0.5 mile in dense slide alder and avalanche debris.) After leaving the trail at the cairn, the route ascends NE, traversing several hundred feet to a meadow. Find faint game trails that become more prominent below cliff bands but above tree bands. Continue traversing around until you are directly above Cream Lake on a large, grassy bench below cliffs.

At this point, don't be fooled by staying high. The terrain is not as easy as it appears. Descend 700 ft. to Cream Lake on steep meadow, entering forest just E of the lake. From Cream Lake, which is an old Crisler campsite, head ESE 0.5 mile, staying to the N of the basin. The route crosses the stream a few times and goes through stands of trees to the gradual rising terrain of lower Ferry Basin. The area to the W of Mt. Ferry is open, travel is easy, campsites abound, and tarns dot the landscape. From Mt. Ferry Basin, there are three possible routes to the crest of the Bailey Range:

(1) The summit of Mt. Ferry can be traversed, and though not difficult, this entails the most work.

(2) The valley between Mt. Ferry and Mt. Pulitzer is easy to ascend past the remnant glacier to the broad saddle and is the most popular route.

(3) A more difficult, scenic route is the heather meadows S of Pulitzer leading up to Lone Tree Pass S of Pulitzer.

Once on top of the Bailey Range crest, travel is simple to the E of both Pulitzer and Ferry on broad, grassy benches.

From the saddle, routes continue either S to Queets Basin (BR6) or E to Dodger Point (BR5).

Links to other traverses in Bailey Range Area: