Skagit Eagle Festival 2017

Skagit-eagle-festival-2017

The Skagit Eagle Festival 2017 is currently going on. It is a month-long much celebrated affair in the region. January is the eagle-watching season in eastern Skagit County. Mind-blowing activities take place in Rockport, Concrete (Near to Newhalem)  and Marblemount every full weekend in January. [Read more…]

Hannegan Peak

hanegan-peak

There are many great peaks in the North Cascades to be hiked. Hannegan Peak is absolutely one of the bests. The peak is 6, 187 foot high and hikers have to hike around 10.4 mile to reach the summit. It is one of those few summits that can be claimed on a day-hike. The place offers a 360 degree sweeping view of the panoramic Picket Range and northern peaks of the park. [Read more…]

North Cascades Place Spotlight 5: Gorge Creek Falls

Gorge-creek-falls

The North Cascades has many delights and Gorge Creek Falls is one of them. The falls is very near to Newhalem, just two miles off from the highway road on east. The visit is a total package, consisting of hiking a small trail, a dam, a river (Skagit), two waterfalls to be seen, two overlooks, and finally, believe or not, an aqua-blue lake. This is the reason the place is one of the most visited places in North Cascades National Park Complex. [Read more…]

North Cascades Place Spotlight 4: Maple Pass Trail

maple-pass-trail

Maple Pass Trail

Maple Pass Trail is a 10 Kilometre long moderately trafficked loop trail. It is located near a small town called Mazama, WA, which also features a lake. The trail is reputed for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding activities.  Maple Pass Trail is accessible from July until October every year. You can also take you pet dog but keep it on leash.

Maple Pass trail is a must-do hike in North Cascades. You have option of adding 2 miles to include 2 lakes on the way to trail. You can either start at Lake Ann Trailhead or Rainy Lake Trailhead. It is advisable you would better  going the counterclockwise, i.e. tarting Via Lake Ann Trailhead because the trail has steeper incline if you start from clockwise.

What on Offer?

You will feel delighted with the  stunning beauty all the way till highest point of hike at 6995 Ft “Maple Pass”. You have to then descend back to trailhead. The hike to trail takes 4 to 5 hours if you are newbie  but pro hikers can do the hiking in 3 hours. The views, especially up above Ann Lake is spectacular. The trail is well maintained. You would love the variations changing from forest to alpine terrain.

Awesomeness waits you on the hiking way.  Sight of towering mountains, luscious lake Anne, wonderful waterfall. Rainy pass lakes, gorgeous Heather Meadows colorful wild flowers, chip monks and Marmots will make you fall in love with the place.

Cautions

The way near summit is slippery and thus you should be wearing proper shoes with traction. The hike is moderately difficult. There are also too much mosquito on the way. Apply anti-mosquito lotions on you skin before taking the hike. Use trekking poles to have a safe hike. The trail gets extremely busy with hikers often. Start hiking as early as possible. As the hiking is long take several breaks if you are not physical active person.

Conclusion

Maple Pass Trail has drawn effusive praises from seasoned hikers. The beauty all around the trail is such that it makes you forget the pain and inconveniences caused to you during hiking. Of late the trail has become one of the most hiked trails in North Cascades region. Here is what hiker Ginger Lange says:

Have hiked this beautiful loop several times and it never gets old. Fabulous views of mountains and lakes, incredible wildflowers, and the cutest chipmunks ever… One section is so spectacular it moved my typically very composed British friend to run down the trail, arms spread wide, singing “The Hills Are Alive…..” Yup, that good! 🙂

Place Spotlight 3: Diablo Lake Overlook

diablo-lake-overlook

Diablo Lake Overlook

Diablo Lake Overlook is a must stop place if you are driving on North Cascades Highway. Diablo lake and dam are kind of nature’s marvel and you will find yourself soaked in their enchanting beauty. The place  is just few miles from Newhalem. There are plenty of trails, picnic spots and camping facilities in and around. [Read more…]

North Cascades Place Spotlight 2: Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

lake-chelan

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is one of the most visited places in North Cascades region. The place is located 56 kilometres south of US-Canada border in Chelan county, Washington. The area comprises of 61,958 acres of land and situated adjacent to North Cascades National Park. National Park Service rangers manage the area as a part of North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

Lake Chelan itself is the main attraction in the area. Chiclean Butte, Stehkin Valley and Stehkin river in the area are pleasant places to explore. In the past the area was part of traditional hunting, fishing and gathering lands of several native American tribes beside the Chelan Indians. Lake Chelan has a depth of 1500 feet and blue water, and offer fishing, boating and lack shore camping. It is interesting to note that the average width of the lack is just 2 miles but extends to 50 miles in the Cascade Mountains.

Lake Chelan is fed at northwestern end by Stehekin river. On the southwestern end, its outlet is impounded by a low dam near the town of Chelan. Lake Chelan with a deep of around 1500 feet is third deepest lake in United States. There are many beautiful mountains around and you will be astounded by change in scenery at each turn of the lake. The small yet beautiful town Chelan is like crown jewel of the beautiful blue water roof the lake.

The nearest major town is Sedro-Woolly but camping and lodging facilities are available in the recreation are itself. The southwester end of the lake has many vacation homes and densely populated with visitors. Unlike other places in North Cascades region, there are plenty of eateries and shops are around. If you have time explore the nearby Rainbow falls. There are also water falls and wild life like big horn ships in the area.

There are no roads that connect directly  to Lake Chelan NRA. The recreation area and Stehiken,  a small town located within the park, are accessible only by floatplanes passenger vehicles from the southern end of Lake near the town of Chelan.  You can also reach the area by hiking trails through the Cascade range during the summer. At  the time of summer, an off-road bus service carries weary hikers to the town from the Pacific Crest trail.

North Cascades Place Spotlight 1: Washington Pass Overlook

Liberty-Bell-mountains

Liberty Bell Mountain

Washington Pass Overlook is a ‘must stop’ if you ever undertake a road trip along the North Cascades Highway. Strictly speaking the pass is not located in the North Cascades National Park area but just outside in the Okanogan National Forest, and can be accessible along the State Route 20. The overlook offers magnificent panoramic view of entire valley, majestic mountain  peaks, wonderful white glaciers and coiled road underneath.

How to reach the place?

It is to note that due to heavy snowing the pass is closed between November to April every year. If you are coming from West on highway 20 turn left unto NF-500 in Washington Pass, and right fi your are heading from the East. There is a parking lot and several pull-outs along the road to park vehicles. To access the overlook you got to walk around 400 feet from the parking lot. This is an ADA compatible easy flat trail. Anyone can hike across it.

What on offer?

Once you reach the overlook you will feel awe of sights all around. You will find suddenly surrounded by high mountain peaks. The Liberty Bell group with some 8000 foot high stands out. Look for Kangaroo ridge in the east, a place abound with golden larch trees. The sight of Methow valley and hairpin road underneath the look over will make you go nostalgic. There are signboards with William Staffords moving poems on them are all around the place. Be sure to read them.

There are some short trails in the area for visitors with adventure spirit. There are not just one but series of overlooks. Just go around and find them, and your visual sense with be treated with a plethora of delights. There is a rest room and bathrooms as well near the overlook.

In Conclusion

Washington Pass Overlook is rightly called the Jewel of North Cascades. It divides Washington state into east and west. Whether you go alone or friends or family, this place is a must stop or else you will be missing a vital jewel of your north cascades visit. The temperature of the place changes suddenly whether you come from east or west. A stopover just before the sunset is recommended.

 

Newhalem Creek Falls

newhalem-creek-falls

Newhalem Creek Falls

Newhalem Creek Falls is an amazing waterfall near the town of Newhalem in Ross Lake Recreation Area. The large volume creek flows north into the Skagit river outside Newhalem. Around a Kilometre half above the mouth, the creek sluices amount many large boulders then falls and veils down a 168 feet tall

If viewed from above the stream looks much more vertical than what it really is, and when from below it becomes foreshortened because of its run and pitch. Due to the nature of the cliff terrain, during the season when the creek runs high, the falls spread out and look like a Fan shaped waterfall. The falls are suitably used to generate hydroelectricity and a part of the creek diverted near the top of the falls, which causes a much narrower and less impressively shaped waterfall during the late winter season.

Newhalem Creek Falls is easily one of the best waterfalls in the Ross Lake area, if not the best. The waterfall is partially visible from the road but dangerous place to venture into. You can view the fall cleanly only when you climb to the edge of the precarious canyon and finding a viewing spot through the thick and thorny forest. Another way to have a clear site of the waterfall is reaching the bottom of the falls. The  bottom is very slippery and sliding.  Visitors need to exercise  utmost caution.

Exact Location of the Falls

The Newhalem Creek Falls is located near Newhalem in the Ross Lake NRA area of the North Cascades National Park complex. If you are coming from  east on State Route 20, proceed to Newhalem, a small town 15 miles east of Marblemount, and 26 miles east to Rockport.

The highway crosses Goodell Creek before entering Newhalem. After crossing one fifth of a mile from Goodell Creek, turn right towards the North Cascades Visitors Center and the Newhalem Creek campground. Then drive  past the campground, straight ahead at the four way stop.  After you drive 2/3 of a miles on a gravel road forking to the left the visitors center comes into view. You don’t have to take permission from the center.  Just follow this gravel road for about 1.1 miles and you will spot  the falls through the trees in the canyon below.

You can continue driving the road, which ends at 1 1/2 miles at a stream gauge and trailhead.  Just turn around if you feel you have gone too far. Exercise  strict caution if you plan on scrambling down the slope to have a view the falls. The ground beneath  is crumbly,  and the canyon walls drop off sharply.

A Guide to Roadside Lakes on North Cascades Highway

As you undertake a trip on North Cascades Highway along with many tourist attraction you will come across plethora of stunning lakes. Their elevations, the peculiar colours they have, the size of lakes are too surreal. Here is a guide to roadside lakes on North Cascades Highway for information of travellers.

diablo-lake

Diablo Lake

Diablo Lake: You can view the lake right from road on State Route 20 – the North Cascades Highway. This lake is favourite for many visitors. The lake bustles with visitors doing canoeing, camping, climbing and taking classes. The colour of the water is intense turquoise  because the glaciers surrounding the lake grind rocks into fine powder that find their way into lake through creeks. The powder stays suspended not he water, giving the lake water a brilliant but unnatural hue.

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Lake George

Nearby Diablo Lake are Ross and George Lake. Ross lake is the most popular lake in North Cascades. The headwaters of Skagit river that flow into Ross lake comes from Cana dian peaks. The lake is just 50 minutes drive from east of Burlington town. It will take 3 hours if you drive from Seattle. The water is greenish colour due to geological region. There are floating cabins on pristine water of the lake that can be rented for stay.

ross-lake

Ross Lake

Lake George is surrounded by full of trails and offers a close-up view of Mount Rainier. The lake is a pristine mountain lake that nestled in the northwest side of Mount Wow. You need wilderness  permit for visiting and  camping around the area. Gobbler’s knob a very popular spot near the area. The watch tower at the knob offers breathtaking views of 14, 411 feet Stratovolcano. The only drawback is that you have to enter forest and do a hiking to reach the place.

blue-lake

Blue Lake

Blue Lake is situated near Washington Pass at 6254 elevation. If you approach from the west, the place is some 44 miles drive from the town of Newhalem on SR 20 and before the Washington Pass overlook. From east on highway, the lake is located some 31 miles from the two of Winthrop. To reach the lake if you have to take a 2 miles hike along Blue Lake Trail off highway 20. This stunning lake sit quietly in the middle surrounded by forests, meadows, wildflowers and granite peaks that reach sky.

The beauty and peculiarity of North Cascades lakes is such that you will forget the labor you do while hiking up the trails to to reach these lakes. Each of these lakes have their own quintessential charms and  are bound to  enrich your memories of the North Cascades trip with their glistening  beauty.

The Secrets of Rockport and Marblemount

Rockport is a small town in Washington that host a fine State Park and a popular County Park. You can go to Rockport by heading east on State Route 20 from I5 at Burlington, or reach there via Arlington and Darrington on State Route 530. There is a tavern and gas store in the town.

Marblemount is another small town and several miles drive from Rockport. Good facilities for tourists like gas, groceries, lodging, post office and restaurants available in this small town. From here starts the scenic 87 miles drive in wilderness  along the North Cascades Highway. The famous Skagit River Resort lies halfway between Rockport and Marblemount. After you cross the Skagit River bridge, you can take the Cascade River Road that head east into the National park. This 22 miles primitive drive is laden with visual delight. You will have amazing views of mountains, blue glaciers and waterfalls.

Marblemount-washington

Marblemount

There are two small beautiful towns of Newhalem and Diablo, along the State Route 20. Many trails, dams hydroelectric projects located around the towns and hiking can be done from these places. However, there is no facilities except a grocery store in Newhalem.

Marblemount and Rockport are  on the last river plain in the Upper Skagit River Valley as you undertake a drive on the North Cascades Highway. The highway takes the route of Indians, pioneer wagons and pack trains  as it passes through the valley along the up river course on the way to the North Cascades mountains. The Skagit River flows into Puget Sound about 60 miles west of Marblemount.

Theses days the area is bustling with small business entrepreneurs. Local artists and crafts are making full use of area’s natural resources to design their unique products. Potteries, big wood carvings, green products, hand-designed crafts, and wood crafts can be purchased here. The climate is moderate, with summer highs in the 90’s and the winter lows varies from 10′ to 30′.

It is important to note that though the highway across the North Cascades Passes closes in winter, the towns of Marblemount and Rockport remain accessible year-round for tourists coming from the Puget Sound region.

skagit-river-resort

Skagit River Resort

Alpine hiking in the Sauk Mountain trail is very popular spot. To reach here turn north on the access road that meet Highway 20 just west of Rockport State Park, and continue your drive  up the root of the mountain till you reach the parking area.  It provides an amazing view of the Skagit River Valley below. You can go for hang-gliding here. Sauk Mountain trail starts from this place and switchbacks up the south face of Sauk and near the top the trail crosses around an eastern outcropping, and continues up to the place of the former fire tower.

If you want to stay in the area for a day or two you have Skagit River Resort in the vicinity. The resort has all facilities including small parking and eatery. Marble mount is just 2.5 miles from here.