Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
North Cascades suggestions?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Derek Schutt
(derek_fc) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado Front Range
North Cascades suggestions? on 05/05/2010 13:58:56 MDT Print View

Can anyone suggest a ~60 mile loop in the North Cascades for the 1st week of August? I'm thinking about doing it in 5 days (I know some of you could probably do it in 1 day :) ). As I explore on the web, I realize I don't know much at all about the region...which is a great reason to visit.

I guess my preferences are like many people's: nice Alpine scenery, not too many people.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
North Cascades suggestions? on 05/05/2010 14:23:40 MDT Print View

"Backpacking Washington" by Doug Lorain has a number of loops in the North Cascades.

My all-time favorite is the Spider Meadow-Lyman Lakes-Image Lake-Buck Creek Pass loop, which is about what you're looking for. It has some disadvantages in that the trailheads are about 2 miles and 700 feet elevation apart, and the second day requires descending a snowfield--fine if you have a warm day (wait until mid-afternoon) but you'd need an ice axe if it's cold or you insist on doing it in the morning. But the scenery can't be beat! The first week of August is generally the peak time for wildflowers, especially at Cloudy Pass (those magnificent flower fields never are mentioned in guidebooks, maybe just as well!) and at Buck Creek Pass.

If you really want to be lonesome, there's the Pasayten Wilderness to the east of North Cascades National Park.

You can get more ideas on, a Seattle-area hiking forum, and from, the Washington Trails Association website.

Derek Schutt
(derek_fc) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado Front Range
North Cascades on 05/06/2010 14:56:00 MDT Print View

That's great, and looks like it might be the hike for us. Lots of bears there I gather?


Dont Wantto
(longhiker) - F
about the same time, same place on 05/06/2010 16:28:31 MDT Print View

My girlfriend and I planning a trip there (from NJ) for 2 weeks starting around Aug 15 as well... Backpacking Washington, mentioned above, is really the best book I've seen on this.. There is another by some guy from the Backpacker magazine (you can find it on Google Books.. you can also find Bakcpacking Washington on Google Books..) but the miles he logged seemed insane. For eg. 20 miles / day in the up-and-down Cascades were his 'easy' version or something..

I've also found nwhikers forums useful for this. The most popular backpacking trail within the NC national park is the Chilliwack trail or something.. I'm trying to stay away from very popular areas like that which need permits. The descriptions of Spider Meadows sounds great too.. We'll probably end up just south of the national park in the Glacier Peaks Wilderness.

PS: They do seem to have lots of black bears. My girlfriend is worried about grizzlies but it turns out they don't really have any.. a sighting once every few years and everyone gets excited. They estimate 15 - 20 grizzlies in the entire area.. more common closer to the Canadian border and in the Pasayten wilderness (east of North Cascades NP)

Edited by longhiker on 05/06/2010 16:30:03 MDT.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: North Cascades on 05/06/2010 16:53:04 MDT Print View

Here are a few ideas, all on the west side of Ross Lake:

No. 1 -- Loop trip (pretty much, but some backtracking to return from Whatcom Pass): catch a boat ride from Ross Lake dam up the lake and get dropped off at trailhead at Little Beaver Creek outlet on west side of the lake; hike westerly along Little Beaver Creek trail to Whatcom Pass; then return back down from Whatcom Pass to exit via Big Beaver Creek to Ross Lake -- making sure you remembered to arrange for that boat from Ross Lake dam to return and pick you up on the day you expect to arrive at Big Creek's outlet on Ross Lake.

No. 2 -- Another "pretty much" loop trip: enter from trailhead at Ruth Creek on west side of North Cascades Park; hike up over Hannegan Pass, then gain the crest of Copper Ridge and follow the Copper Ridge Trail traveling north; before reaching Canada, drop down from the ridge to the Chilliwack River valley; hike southwesterly along that river valley to junction with Brush Creek; hike southeasterly up Brush Creek to Whatcom Pass; then retrace back down from that pass to the junction of Brush Creek and Chilliwack river; continue southwesterly on the trail along Chilliwack River back to (and over) Hannegan Pass; and exit back to the Ruth Creek trailhead.

No. 3 -- Traverse (no loop; requires dropping a vehicle at one end or other arrangements): combine above two routes by making arrangements for a car to be waiting at Ruth Creek trailhead on west side of the Park, and then get to Ross Dam and take that boat from the Dam up the lake to the outlet of either Little Beaver Creek or Big Beaver Creek (the trail up either one of those creeks takes you to Whatcom Pass); hike to Whatcom Pass; cross the pass and hike down Brush Creek to Chilliwack River; then either:

Option 3A --- at Brush Creek junction with Chilliwack River, go northeast on Chilliwack River trail to Copper Ridge trail; and climb switchbacks up to Copper Ridge; hike southwest along crest of Copper Ridge to Hannegan Pass to Hannegan Pass; then over that pass and down the Ruth Creek trail to exit at its trail head; OR

Option 3B -- at Brush Creek junction with Chilliwack River, go southwest on Chilliwack River trail to Hannegan Pass; then over that pass and down the Ruth Creek trail to exit at its trail head;

where, waiting at the Ruth Creek trail head, you will find (hopefully) the transporation you arranged in advance.

There are excellent books for North Cascades NP trails, and "WOW Guides for North Cascades" by Kathy and Craig Copeland looks like one of them. My trips in the above areas predate (by a couple of decades or so) the above guide book, which had its first edition in May 2007, but it has clear maps (sketch-type diagrams) and great photos -- although it doesn't seem to have much info on Little Beaver/Big Beaver Creeks.

A huge draw for all the above trips is the spectacular view from Whatcom Pass of Mt. Challenger and its hanging glaciers at the head of Beaver creeks, and expanding views as you hike up even higher above that pass to Tapto Lakes.

There are also spectacular views of entire range while on the Copper Ridge Trail -- also with more terrific views if you scramble from Hannegan Pass to the top of Mt. Hannegan.

I haven't done the traverse described above, but did the two end loops. However, the link pasted below from nwhikers website provides a great trip report of the traverse (solo). I don't know the author, but he sure did an outstanding job with the traverse, and with the story -- very nice photos to boot:

Edited by JRScruggs on 05/06/2010 17:25:45 MDT.

Derek Schutt
(derek_fc) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado Front Range
spider gap on 05/13/2010 13:19:04 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone! We've decided to do the loop through spider gap, in Glacier Peak Wilderness, but if conditions suddenly change, may have to revise for one of the other options.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
other trip ideas on 05/14/2010 12:13:32 MDT Print View

1. Ptarmigan traverse if you have some mountaineering skills and gear. It used to be all snow when I did it, but I hear there is some trail now, or maybe lots of trail. Its far fewer than 60 miles, but its about a 6 day trip.

2. Take the Lady of the Lake up Lake Chelan, get off the boat at Holden Village, hike to Layman Lake. Climb Bonanza Pk, the tallest non-volcanic peak in the state, and go over Cloudy Pass, Suiattle Pass, to Image Lake. The view of Glacier Pk is unbelievable. Fewer than 60 miles, but a great 5 day trip. When I did it I hitched back to my car in Chelan.

3. Starting off at Holden, go to Lyman Lake, and take the PCT north to the junction of the trail between Cascade Pass to Stehekin. Catch the ferry boat to Chelan.

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
Glacier Peak Wilderness on 05/27/2010 12:57:38 MDT Print View

i second Spider Meadow-Lyman Lakes-Image Lake-Buck Creek Pass loop or above options 2 and 3 in the Glacier Peak wilderness area - unbelievable. holden is a very special place :)

Derek Schutt
(derek_fc) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado Front Range
Glacier Peak Wilderness on 05/27/2010 13:43:15 MDT Print View

Great, I'm quite excited! I'm also trying to make this my first close-to-UL trip.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
North Cascades suggestions? on 05/27/2010 14:58:14 MDT Print View

Bob Shaver's options 2 and 3, using the Lake Chelan boat, are good, too. The boat ride is lots of fun, and a great way to begin and end a backpack trip. You'd avoid any problems with the Spider Pass snowfield or the between-trailheads bit between the Phelps Creek and Spider Meadows trailheads.

The main area with bear problems is the valley near and above Holden, including Lyman Lakes. Be sure you hang your food carefully there! These are all black bears; there is reportedly a grizz or two in the northern part of N. Cascades NP and in the Pasayten Wilderness, but the sightings are about once every 5 years if that often. When a grizz sighting is reported elsewhere, it always turns out to be a large brown or cinnamon color black bear (no hump, no dish face, large ears).

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/27/2010 14:59:47 MDT.

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
magestic on 05/27/2010 18:05:53 MDT Print View

Ahh, the "valley above holden" is just beautiful, and the lakes just below Lyman lakes have this color of turquoise! and lyman lakes are gorgeous, make sure you climb up to the the upper... and you can go to Image lake from there .. and wondering on the ridge (off trail) just above image lake is ...from a fairy tale...

(as long as the weather cooperates:)

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
A great loop on 05/27/2010 18:27:33 MDT Print View

Among my favorites in Washington. If the weather cooperates, you are in for a treat!


Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: majestic on 05/27/2010 18:50:43 MDT Print View

Well, Lyman Lakes and Spider Meadow just got bumped up a bit on my priorities list... :)