Located on Humpback Mountain is the public rockhounding area known as Hansen Creek. The area is known for producing beautiful, clear, fully terminated quartz crystals including the quartz variety purple amethyst.
However, it should be noted that the collection site at Hansen Creek is not for the last minute rock collector. This location requires some advance planning due to the effort that’s required to reach and maneuver around the dig site. The Hansen Creek crystal dig site is located at a pretty high elevation in the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, which is not only incredibly beautiful, but potentially dangerous for those who are not accustomed to hiking in heavily wooded areas at higher elevations.
Hansen Creek is a popular destination for rockhounds and crystal enthusiasts. Despite the fact that thousands of people visit the spot each season, the crystals can still be located if you put in the effort. It’s even been reported that crystals will sometimes wash up on the trail, especially after a downpour, so keep your eye’s peeled the entire way.
What Types of Crystals Can Be Found At Hansen Creek
At Hansen Creek you can find high quality quartz and purple amethyst crystals. Quartz comes in a variety of sizes, from large specimens to small fragments. However, the amethyst at Hansen Creek is usually light purple in color, and you might not be able to see it if it’s covered in dirt, which it will be. Many rockhounds who have experience digging crystals at Hansen Creek recommend keeping every piece that you might suspect containing a crystal and clean it after you return home.
How To Get To Hansen Creek Rockhounding Area (Map)
The drive from Seattle to the Hansen Creek trailhead only takes about an hour, depending on traffic and weather. I-90E approaching Snoqualmie Pass is the best route. Take Exit 47, which will take you to Asahel Curtis Road. Follow the signs to Tinkham Road, then turn left onto NF-5510. Once on NF-5510 you’re going to run into a lot of potholes. You should be able to easily navigate around these, but just know that there’s a lot of them.
Keep driving up the hill and it will be relatively straight until you get to what feels like a left-hand turn. The road will straighten out again and then right there before the road veers up to the right in a hairpin turn, is where the parking is for the public dig area.
The Hansen Creek Trail
The Hansen Creek Trail is 1.4 miles long. It’s common for people to stop halfway up the trail and start digging. Don’t do this. Keep going up the trail the entire distance. It will be worth it. At the end of the trail you’ll see a giant 15’x15’ caution tape box suspended in the trees that rockhound Nathen Piela put up as a courtesy to future visitors to let them know they’ve arrived.
Dangers To Avoid When Rockhounding at Hansen Creek
The complete public dig site is located on the side of a mountain. You’ll be wandering through loose soil and dislodged rocks between fallen trees and many holes dug by previous visitors.
Holes and Collapsed Tunnels
Over the years many people have dug into the mountain side and have even dug tunnels into the earth looking for crystals. Over time, fallen tree limbs and other debris can hide these holes. So it’s really important that you keep an eye out for these hidden dangers. The roof of some of the tunnels that have been dug have also fallen in, exposing the tunnel below. These are serious dangers as well.
Exposed Tree Roots and Fallen Limbs
If you haven’t spent much time up in the woods, you might not think this is a major concern. But as someone who has grown up in and around areas just like Hansen Creek, tree roots, root balls, broken limbs and all the other things that fall out of trees can be a major problem. There are a lot of sharp, jagged edges with this material and it will grab onto you and cut and jab more than you think.
People will come and go throughout the day and you may not realize it. As people tunnel into the hillside, they’ll eventually need to remove large rocks. When these rocks start to roll, they roll downhill. So please take care when removing rocks from your hole as well as pay attention to who, if anyone is above you on the hill.
Tips for Digging For Crystals at Hansen Creek
- The public dig area is a huge site. Many people will meander around the end of the trail and not have much luck. Be willing to explore the entire mountain side. Try to get away from the end of the trail and work your way around the mountain.
- Explore the tailings of people who have gone before you. If you are able to find evidence of crystals left behind in the tailing piles, it might be worth spending time at that location.
- Do not expect to find any large crystals in the first layers of earth. Spend time going down into the deeper layers and take time to screen/classify each layer.
- Pay attention to what you are pulling out of the ground. These crystals are dirty and caked with dirt/mud and can easily be missed.