We really enjoyed the solitude on this hike. We saw only one other person on the trail.
The trail starts at the end of Eight Mile Road. The whole area looks fairly recently burned. The trail winds up a narrowing canyon to Billy Goat Pass, giving the hiker a funnel effect - where the pass is in view most of the way, but is further away than it appears (2.5 miles.)
At the pass and off to the lower right is the trail to Burch. The summit is further than it looks too - another 2.5 miles. The trail is pretty scenic, with Big Craggy on your right the whole way. It traverses the side of Burch, above some cliffs most of the way, giving it some spice.
The trail reaches a saddle where grasses are starting to cover the trail. Some cairns mark the way across the saddle to the trail through a larch grove below the summit. After a couple hundred feet, we reached the wide summit. There's quite a bit of debris from the old lookout that used to occupy the top of the mountain.
We had great views of the Pasayten and Okanogan and Big Craggy. This hike was pretty fun, very scenic, and had some interesting history. We even spotted an adit on the way down. Ten miles rt and about 3,500' gain.
Not wishing to speak for Ree, I will give my 2♧ anyway.
We hiked the trail on June 24 of this summer and here are some observations:
• the trail was cleared of fallen trees to the pass.
• the trail to Billy Goat Pass is generally smooth and has a gradual gradient. But it is 95% open, thus tending to be hot in mid-day sun. There was trail side water before the pass but it might be dry now ( Ree?)
• once you are on the branch trail to Burch summit, the grade is still quite moderate but the tread is narrower and quite a bit rockier. There is no sense of exposure even though cliffs are below on climber's right ( don' t be tempted to shortcut down to the Billy Goat Pass trail. The terrain is loose and steep with scattered cliffs).
• tip: from the summit the trail clearly apparent toward the southwest is tempting, but I can't enthusiastically recommend taking it down. After a couple of hundred yards it swings to skier's right and begins crossing the steep west slope of upper Burch. So far, so good, but for 250 yards the tread is either missing or very poorly defined due to half a century of downslope movement of surficial material and no maintenance. I believe it is the original trail to the lookout. It is passable but annoying, especially if you ascended on the'new' trail that switchbacks easily up through rocks above tree line.
-------------- Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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