Big Four Ice Caves (Washington): 7 Insider Tips To Make The Best Of Your Trip  

So you’ve heard about the Big Four Ice Caves and think it’d be a fantastic place to visit?

That’s great because it is, but before you grab your gear and throw it in the car, take a moment to read up and educate yourself on the place.

This way, you will be prepared and can make the most of your vacation. Then, continue reading for helpful tips when visiting the Big Four Ice Caves.

The Big Four Ice Caves

The Big Four Ice Caves are a natural phenomenon on the Big Four Mountain’s northern slope.

Throughout the winter and spring, avalanches fall from the mountains.

As the snow melts, it forms waterfalls, which melt even more snow at the base, forming caves.

It is a fantastic sight, with people traveling from near and far to walk the trail that leads to the caves.

Where are the Big Four Ice Caves?

The Big Four Mountains is a peak in Washington, 21 miles east of Granite Falls.

The mountain rises to a height of 6-180 feet, with avalanche debris heaps at the bottom of the mountain’s steep north face.

This snow can stay there all year because of the mountain’s constant shadow.

How To Get To The Big Four Ice Caves

Take exit 194 for Snohomish/Wenatchee from I-5 in Everett, then exit 204 for Lake Stevens.

Follow this route for 2 miles before turning left onto Granite Falls Highway 9/9N. Turn right onto E 92/Granite Falls after 1.5 miles.

Come to a roundabout with a log sign for Granite Falls after 6 kilometers.

Continue straight through the next roundabout to Quarry Road, where you will pass through two additional roundabouts.

Turn left at the stop sign on the Mountain Loop Highway, then pass the Verlot Ranger Station on the left after 10 kilometers.

Cross a blue and grey bridge a mile after the ranger station.

On the right-hand side of the road, 13 kilometers from the bridge, are two signs for the Ice Caves.

Turn in at the Ice Caves Trailhead, which is a quarter-mile beyond there.

Parking And Restrooms and Picnic Areas

The Big Four Ice Caves Trail, which attracts over 50,000 tourists yearly, is one of the most popular treks in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

With hundreds of hikers passing through each day, the trailhead’s two different parking sites are frequently packed to capacity, requiring hikers to park along the Mountain Loop.

In addition, you’ll need a Northwest Vehicle Pass, which costs $5 per day or $30 per year.

After entering the spacious paved parking area, you may pick up your pass at the self-serve pay station at the Verlott Ranger Station.

At the trailhead, there are restrooms for visitors’ convenience, and picnic tables are about a ½ mile from the trailhead to the caves. ,

Safety Warnings At The Big Four Ice Caves

In November 2006, a significant fall storm flooded the South Fork Stillaguamish River, damaging a key footbridge leading to the Big Four Ice Caves.

While the path is available to the public, the snowfield is currently blocked due to cave-ins and slides claiming four hikers’ lives.

Authorities urge hikers to stay out of the caves because of the hazard.

You might want to make it to the last ice cave since it is said to be the greatest, with a waterfall flowing down behind it.

To attempt this, you will need to walk on snow and rock. Please be aware that it is highly slippery and not ideal for minors to try.

The Big Four Ice Caves typically become apparent in August and remain until October and are fascinating to look at, but that should be the extent of your visit.

Several warning signs describe the danger as you make your way up the woodland route to the mountain’s edge.

You should avoid stepping on the snow and stay away from the caves. There have been deaths because of abrupt cave-ins.

Never, ever, ever go inside the ice caves.

There have been people killed and trapped inside because of falling ice and avalanches. Enjoy the caves, but don’t forget to respect them.

Taking The Walk To The Big Four Ice Caves

A large gravel and boardwalk trail leads to views of Big Four Mountain and the caverns hidden behind the snow.

This walk is suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities.

Begin at the trailhead parking area and walk into the woods on the paved route. You’ll soon come to a crossroads.

A boardwalk on the right spans a marsh and leads to a level grassy field with a picnic area.

Although the site of a historic hotel, except for a big chimney, is now deserted.

To get to the ice caves, keep going straight and cross the Stillaguamish River on an aluminum bridge.

Look down to see the ancient trail that runs under you. WTA helped create the new, higher route you will travel on.

They built the bridge to resist the flooding and washouts that had previously afflicted this trail.

You’ll cross Ice Creek in a few rights before it runs into the Stillaguamish.

The trail continues through the woodland on a gently rising incline, with some gravel and a boardwalk.

The caves are now visible for the first time.

They’re snow caves beneath an avalanche chute, formed by melting snow, waterfalls from the rock above, and wind.

On a warm day, they appear inviting, but there are warnings everywhere warning of the risk.

Do not enter the caves or climb to the summit, even if other hikers may do the same thing.

Avalanches in the spring and collapsing bridges in the summer have killed people there as recently as 2011, so the notices are there for a reason.

A plaque at the trail’s terminus commemorates Grace Tam, an 11-year-old girl who died at the caves in 2011.

It acts as a reminder of the area’s ever-changing ecology, as well as the dangers that the melting ice poses.

The walk ends in a circle of rocks to view the caves, Big Four, and surrounding scenery.

Take the walkway over the marsh on your way back to the vehicle, keeping an eye out for birds, dragonflies, and frogs.

Is It A Safe Walk To Take Children On?

The walk into the Big Four Ice Caves is a nicely maintained hiking path that is a simple walk for children and toddlers.

Keep your blood sugar up and the kids happy by bringing water and snacks.

Strollers are not recommended, as the terrain is rough and would be a lot easier to use a carrier.

The route almost vanishes as you reach the ice caves.

To access the caverns further away, trek up a hill, across rocks, branches, and along slopes.

Wearing street footwear does not make the journey easier.

As a result, parents should wear hiking boots when touring these ice caves.


The right knowledge and preparation before you embark on a trip to the Big Four Ice Caves will ensure you have a truly memorable experience enjoying the great outdoors.

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