We did this loop and added a side trip down South Fork Cascade Canyon. We started at the Leigh Lake trailhead and went up through Paintbrush Canyon, over the divide, down the North Fork Cascade Canyon, into South Fork Cascade Canyon up to Avalanche Divide, then back down and out through the Cascade Canyon past Hidden Falls.
This trip was amazing. Everytime I saw something, I would think, it can't get any better. It just kept getting better and better. My favorite part has to be coming over Paintbrush Divide and looking down upon Lake Solitude. The view was a great reward for the tough climb up.
Additionally, the campsite, about 1 to 1.5 miles below Lake Solitude, was phenomenal. We were in a dual campsite, but had the better of the two. We were adjacent to the creek and were able to set up the eating area across the creek. We had a group of wildflowers between the rock we were on and the creek, which gave a beautiful table setting. The colors in the North Fork Cascade Canyon were stunning. I've never seen views like it. Unbelievable Yellows, Reds, Greens and Blues. Amazing.
We timed this trip perfectly, as the wildflowers were popping, the temps were perfect and the crowds were non-existent. Once we left the day hiking areas, we saw maybe 10 people in the 5-days we were there. We did, however, get a bit of snow on our last night there. We were camped at about 9,000 feet in the South Fork Cascade Canyon. It was a delight to wake up with about 3 inches of snow on the ground. We felt like we saw it all.
I highly recommend this area, and doing the route we chose, we felt like we got to see the highlights and had plenty of time for relaxing and exploring. We left Hurricane Pass, the Alaska Basin, Static Peak and Phelps Lake for another trip. Looking forward to that.