Day Hiking North Cascades  by Craig Romano

Day Hiking: North Cascades Guide Book

by Craig Romano (The Mountaineers Books)
Day Hiking North Cascades  by Craig Romano
A fresh approach to the beloved San Juans and North Cascades regions, here you’ll find more day hiking choices, convenient organization, options to take it further or hike year-round, crystal-clear directions, and much, much more. Includes: 125 trails, each rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars; difficulty ratings and detailed route descriptions; nearby camping options and how to extend your hike; easy-to-use topographic maps and elevation profiles; quick-reference icons for kids, dogs, wildflowers, and more; info on flora and fauna, historical trails, and trail advocacy; full-color photos and overview map; organized by major highways for easier planning; hikes-at-a-glance chart for choosing a route; and 1% of sales benefits our Washington trails. Day Hiking: North Cascades features the San Juan Islands, Bellingham area, Mount Baker, the Highway 20 corridor, North Cascades National Park, Winthrop and the Pasayten Wilderness area, portions of Glacier Peak Wilderness, & the Mountain Loop Hwy.

© 2008 Craig Romano/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Day Hiking: North Cascades" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 125.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 125.

Beautiful backcountry lakes, bountiful berry patches, glimpses of glaciers, and the option of hoofing to an old lookout site overlooking Baker and peaks and valleys north and south—no wonder this area is darn popular. The trails are short and wonderful for introducing young’uns to the great outdoors, but there’s a fair amount of elevation to be gained to and fro, so be sure to bring the kid harness or at least extra chocolate bars.
Van Horn, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
Surrounded by sphagnum bogs and primeval forest tucked in a quiet corner behind bustling Mount Pilchuck, the Ashland Lakes are the showpiece to the Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources’ 9600-acre Mount Pilchuck Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA). The placid lakes are an ideal destination for introducing children to the wonders of nature. Young hikers will especially delight in the numerous boardwalks traversing the saturated and stimulating landscape.
Verlot, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
Man-made Baker Lake, with its stump flats, isn’t anything spectacular. But that’s not the real draw of this trail. The free-flowing Baker River, cascading tributaries, groves of old-growth giants, views of Mounts Baker and Shuksan, and a cool little suspension bridge—those are what will bring you here. And one more thing: this trail can be hiked in any season by just about anyone. Judging from the size of the parking lot, your hunch that this trail is a popular one is correct. Try it on a rainy weekday or during the winter months for more peaceful plodding.
Boundary, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9
Saunter along a pristine waterway birthed by massive ice fields and glaciers in the heart of the North Cascades wilderness. Explore wide gravel banks ideal for siestas and peering up at the towering and rugged summits surrounding you. Marvel at massive cedars and their adaptive growing techniques, from hugging boulders to sprouting in riparian zones. With its mere probe into the mostly roadless North Cascades National Park, this trail will make you feel like you’re miles away from civilization.
Boundary, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Good views, good fishing, good berry picking, good hiking—all on a trail without a good amount of use! This gem of a trail exists because of the goodwill of Walt Bailey and his Civilian Conservation Corps buddies. But we’re not talking the 1930s, here. This trail was constructed in the 1990s, when Walt was in his seventies. A lifelong love for the area led Walt and his friends to construct this wonderful trail entirely with volunteer labor.
Silverton, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
An easy hike on an old railroad bed, this oft-overlooked trail serves up plenty of surprises. Travel alongside the Wild and Scenic Sauk River, admiring eagles, mergansers, and kingfishers. Watch dippers flit on river rocks. Listen to thrushes bring the surrounding forest alive in song. Pause on open banks to take in sweeping views of surrounding peaks. Marvel at ancient giant cedars. Locate relics of past logging and railroading activity. And of course enjoy the wildlife-rich wetland known as Beaver Lake.
Bedal, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
Enjoy an easy hike to a pretty little lake in the little-known Loup Loup region of the Okanogan. The only sizeable body of water in the 28,000-acre Granite Mountain Roadless Area, Beaver sits in a small forested bowl a mile above sea level. Here on the eastern extremes of the North Cascades, the sun shines long and hard. Beaver Lake invites foot and full-body soaking, a nice reprieve from the summer heat.
Mowich Illahee, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
One of the loneliest trails off of the Mountain Loop Highway, that is, if you don’t count the resident marmots. Follow an old mining trail deep into magnificent primeval forest to a boulder-strewn basin beneath Sloan Peak’s sheer southern face. Roam heather meadows and admire painted slopes of wildflowers. While the first half of this trail makes for a nice walk, the second half can be tricky, requiring a 0.25-mile slog up a steep rocky creek bed. Such is the price of solitude.
Bedal, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
Hikers have been marveling at these frozen spectacles of nature for over a century. Reached by one of the most manicured trails in the Cascades, Big Four’s famed ice caves can be enjoyed by hikers of all walks. Formed from cascading water and warm winds hollowing out heaps of avalanche-deposited snow, the caves usually appear by midsummer. Instead of immediately heading for the caves, take a short diversion right, following a paved path 0.25 mile to the Big Four Picnic Area. This trail was once a rail line and was responsible for delivering thousands of tourists to a grand hotel where the picnic area now sits.
Silverton, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
Enjoy a gentle hike along a babbling creek to a pretty lake within the sprawling Pasayten Wilderness. Though Black Lake is named for its deep, dark waters, “black” also describes much of the surrounding forest. In 2003 a wildfire seared it, leaving charred stumps and blackened timber in its wake. This hike should be avoided on the hottest of days due to its lack of shade, but it’s quite delightful in late spring when pioneering flowers paint the understory an array of vivid colors. Watch, too, nature regenerate herself as thousands of tenacious saplings restore the forest.
Vanderpool Crossing, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
An uninspiring name for a pretty tarn tucked beneath the impressive Early Winters Spires. Short and sweet, this trail will leave you sitting by Blue’s shimmering waters in no time. From a shoreline resting post marvel at the surrounding soaring walls of granite. Listen for clambering climbers scaling them. Despite the occasional clanking of carabiners, Blue Lake is a peaceful place above the busy state highway.
Gilbert, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
Two short hikes that can be served together or enjoyed à la carte. The azure waters of Blue Lake sitting pretty in a talus- and meadow-ringed cirque will wash your blues away. Or see what’s up, Dock. From this former lookout site, bask in the beauty of Mount Baker. One of the best viewing points from the south of the colossal volcano, Dock Butte packs the same meadow magic and alpine splendor as Park Butte but with a fraction of the crowds.
Grassmere, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
The hike to big, beautiful Boardman Lake is one of the easiest off of the Mountain Loop Highway. Just under a mile and gaining a mere 250 feet of elevation along the way (and 50 on the way back), this lovely backcountry body of water can be reached by just about every hiker—young and old, long-legged and short-breathed, and everyone else in between.
Verlot, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
A good hike any time of year, the trail is perfect for beating summer heat, enjoying winter rain, savoring autumn color, or being wooed by waterfalls that are swollen with spring rain. One thing about this trail remains constant: the trees. Whatever the season, you’ll travel through a forest that has defied time. Boulder River’s moss-draped giants represent one of the last remaining large, low-country old-growth forests in the Cascades. Protected within the nearly 49,000-acre Boulder River Wilderness, these ancient trees are as impressive as the wild river they embrace.
Hazel, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.6
Burch Mountain sits in the center of a rugged region riddled with old mines. Fortune seekers and strike-it-rich schemers once scampered and clambered all over this harsh landscape. Few found any lucre, and all that remains of their past presence are tailings and depressions, a few rusty relics, and wispy voices in the wind. From the lofty 7782-foot summit of this former lookout site, however, you can still strike it rich in visual rewards. Gaze out over impressive crags and spires, stark vertical walls, and deep, dark notches. Peer deep into the Pasayten Wilderness and out to the prominent peaks along its periphery.
Vanderpool Crossing, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
Long before State Route 20 delivered throngs of tourists to the Methow Valley, the Chancellor Road provided passage to the Okanogan. Up the deep and forbidding Canyon Creek valley, prospectors and profiteers pushed on to Harts Pass and its fields of gold and other minerals and to the boomtowns of Chancellor and Barron. But alas, most of the mines went bust along with the miners. Towns vanished and the Chancellor Road transformed into peaceful trail, traversing a once-again wild corner of the North Cascades.
Cedar Crossing, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
Wander on a high and lonely ridge just south of the 49th parallel. Stare out at a seemingly infinite array of imposing peaks—snowcapped and stone-faced, both here in America and over there in Canada. Meander through meadows that in summer burst in a kaleidoscope of colors, then two months later brush the ridge in streaks of crimson and gold. The route starts high, so sweat loss is minimal.
Glacier, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
With its three campgrounds, shaded picnic area, paddleboat concession, and inviting beaches, Cascade Lake is the hub of outdoor activity in Orcas Island’s sprawling Moran State Park. And an attractive trail circling the lake makes this beautiful body of water a hiker’s favorite as well. While definitely one of the more popular hiking destinations within the 5200-acre park, opportunities for tranquility do exist at Cascade. Early mornings and evenings are quiet, with good prospects for observing wildlife, while winter casts an especially peaceful pall on the lake. Kids will love this hike no matter the time of year.
Rosario, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.7
This is one of the most scenic, most accessible (including for kids, at least to the pass), and not surprisingly the most crowded high-country romps in the North Cascades—and the only trailhead in the 684,000-acre North Cascades National Park that you can drive to. Mixed in with the throngs of Puget Sound hikers are folks from Munich, Tokyo, and Kalamazoo. And none of them return disappointed after frolicking among fields of flowers, peaks of ice, and boulders bearing basking marmots— some of the most outstanding alpine landscapes to be found anywhere in the world.
Diablo, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 12
Marvel at Cedar Creek careening down a series of rapids and crashing over a twin-tiered cataract into a deep narrow chasm. On a lightly traveled trail off of the busy North Cascades Highway, Cedar Falls makes an easy early or late-season jaunt. Cruise this way just after snowmelt and witness a deafening display of hydrologic force. Pretty wildflowers lining the trail help soften the trauma.
Mazama, WA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5