Image Lake — Wilderness lake reflects Snohomish County’s supreme peak

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Glacier Peak provides the perfect backdrop to Image Lake. (c) C. Romano

Quick Facts:

Location: Glacier Peak Wilderness

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 33.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,700 feet

Green Trails Map: Mountain Loop Highway 111SX

Contact: Darrington Ranger District: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest 

Notes: NW Forest or Interagency Pass required; No camping within ¼ mile of Image Lake—use established campsites; no fires at lake; respect re-vegetation and closed areas; lake closed to swimming during times of low volume.

Access: From Darrington travel north on SR 530 for 7.5 miles turning right onto FR 26 (Suiattle River Road). Follow FR 26 for 22.5 miles to its end at the Suiattle Trailhead.

Good to Know: dog-friendly, backpacking, wilderness rules apply, exceptional old growth, exceptional wildflowers

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Miners Ridge Fire Lookout. (c) C. Romano

Anyone who has ever sat by Image Lake on a clear and calm summer morning witnessing the 10,541’ volcano known as Glacier Peak mirrored in its placid waters never forgets such a dramatic scene. For here deep in the Glacier Peak Wilderness in a 6,100-foot basin high on Miners Ridge, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful spot within the entire Cascade Range. Image Lake represents the very essence of the sprawling unspoiled 575,000-acre Glacier Peak Wilderness. This is the supreme hiking destination in Snohomish County. A trek into the very heart of the finest natural scenery Snohomish has to offer. And with most things special, it’s not easily attained. Getting to Image Lake requires a multi-day trek and is not for beginning hikers.

From the trailhead, start hiking east on the Suiattle River Trail soon entering the sprawling Glacier Peak Wilderness. Pass through groves of majestic old growth forest; some of the finest stretches of primeval forest in the state. The trail carries on through spectacular groves of old-growth forest following alongside the Suiattle River.

Cross several boot-wetting creeks before coming to Canyon Creek spanned by an impressive suspension bridge. This is a good spot for day hikers to turn around. Beyond, the trail soon reaches the Pacific Crest Trail.  Now head left on the PCT still following the Suiattle River. Come to another junction. Go left onto the Miners Ridge Trail and say goodbye to easy rambling.  Via copious switchbacks make an arduous ascent up Miners Ridge.

At nearly 15 miles finally crest Miners Ridge. Before continuing to the lake, make a short side trip to the 6,208-foot Miners Ridge Fire Lookout. Here, reap some of the finest views anywhere. Stare straight down the emerald Suiattle Valley—and straight up the snowy white slopes of 10,541-foot Glacier Peak.

Retrace your steps to the junction and then hike through berry patches and meadows along the ridge to a junction. Here a trail departs right for Image Lake and camps. The trail left contours around and above the lake providing vantages for capturing the famous image of Image Lake reflecting Glacier Peak. This trail eventually meets up again with the lower trail and camp spur. Set up, spend a few days and consider many side trips and return variations. There are few places on the planet more beautiful than this—savor it!

For information on lodging and other attractions in Snohomish County, visit: www.snohomish.org.Snohomish-NEW

For detailed information on this hike (including mileage, elevation and maps) and other stunning hikes throughout the state, pick up a copy of my brand new 100 Classic Hikes Washington (Mountaineers Books)!

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Get your copy today!!

 

Cape Flattery─Hike to the northwestern most point in Washington State

Enjoy dramatic coastal scenery at the northwestern most tip of Washington State

Enjoy dramatic coastal scenery at the northwestern most tip of Washington State (C) C. Romano

Quick Facts:

Location: Olympic Peninsula Coast

Land Agency: Makah Nation Reservation

Roundtrip: 1.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 300 feet

Contact: Makah Indian Nation

Green Trails Map: Cape Flattery, WA- No 98S

Notes: Dogs allowed on leash, Makah Recreation Pass required ($10, available at Washburn’s General Store and the Makah Museum in Neah Bay).

Access: From Port Angeles follow US 101 west for 5 miles turning right onto SR 112. Continue on SR 112 for 64 miles to Neah Bay in the Makah Indian Reservation. Continue west 1.0 mile on Bayview Ave turning left on Fort Street. After .1 mile turn right onto 3rd Street. In another .1 mile turn left on Cape Flattery Road. Proceed for 7.5 miles to trailhead.

Good to Know: kid-friendly, exceptional bird watching, historic,

Hike to the northwestern most point in the continental United States. Here where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific, Cape Flattery protrudes into a sea of tumultuous waters. A land of dramatic headlands and deep narrow coves, Cape Flattery is an incredible place of sheer rugged beauty. Scores of sea birds ride the surf here and scavenge forbidding sea stacks.

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Dramatic headlands and sea stacks at Cape Flattery. (C) C. Romano

Thanks to the Makah Nation, the stewards of this land, a well-constructed trail leads to this remote corner of the Northwest. Start through a mist-drenched Sitka spruce forest. Utilizing boardwalks and steps drop to a series of promontories that provide stunning vistas of the rugged cape. In .75 mile reach the final viewing platform teetering on the edge of terra firma.

Admire the cape’s abrupt contours of sea stacks, caves, and forbidding cliffs. Look carefully at this intimidating world where sea meets land, and you’ll see an abundance of life. Puffins and guillemots surf the turbulent waters. Murres nest in the fortress-like cliffs. Oystercatchers probe tidal pools left behind on offshore reefs. Sea otters, once on the brink of extinction, bob in protected coves. Whales too, can often be spotted farther out.

Directly offshore is Tatoosh Island. Named for a Makah chief, this 20-acre treeless island once served as a summer fishing camp for the Makah. The United States Coast Guard first constructed a lighthouse on the island in 1857. The current structure is automated. Now, only sea lions, seals, and sea birds live on Tatoosh.

The Makah have declared Cape Flattery a nature sanctuary; an enlightened move for this wild world sitting on the brink of the continent.

For more information on this hike and 124 others across the Olympic Peninsula, pick up a copy  of my Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula Book– the NUMBER ONE selling book on hiking in the Olympics! Check it out!Day Hiking Oly Book

For information on where to stay and play on the Olympic Peninsula, consult the trusted information of Northwest TripFinderNWTFmasthead_layers15

Circle Peak–Round this summit for fantastic 360-degree views

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A hiker approaches Circle Peak’s summit as White Chuck Mountain looks on.(C) C. Romano

Location: White Chuck River Valley, Mountain Loop Highway

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 18.6 miles

High Point: 5,983 feet

Elevation gain: 4,800 feet

Difficulty: difficult

Green Trails Maps: Mountain Loop Highway no. 111SX

Contact: Darrington Ranger District: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest (360) 436-1155

Access: Take Exit 208 off of I-5 following SR 530 east for 32 miles to Darrington. Then head south on the Mountain Loop Highway proceeding 9.0 miles turning left onto FR 23. Drive 5.8 miles turning left onto FR 2700. Continue for another 2.4 miles to trailhead.

Good to know: Dog-friendly, exceptional views, backpacking possibilities. Exceptional wildflowers, solitude, wilderness rules apply

 

The hike to Circle Peak is long and arduous. Strong hikers can make it a challenging day hike, while most folks will want to overnight at Crystal Lake before or after tackling this peak. The peak however, is worth it with an unobstructed 360-degree view and over one mile of flowering meadows. Plus, you’ll probably have the entire mountain to yourself!

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A hiker pauses in the meadows below Circle Peak’s summit. (C) C. Romano

Begin by following an old road bed, climbing a couple of hundred feet then losing most of it. The beginning of this hike as well as the adjacent trail to Meadow Lake utilizes logging roads that were decommissioned in the 1970s and 1980s. At 1.5 miles, reach a junction. The trail right heads towards Meadow Lake and Meadow Mountain, destinations worthy of a return trip to this area. For Circle Peak, take the trail left. The grade is fairly easy for the first two miles on the old road bed. Then it gets brushy and muddy approaching an old cut. The way then gets insanely steep marching up an old fire line. Cascading Crystal Creek alongside the trail should help soothe you a little.

The grunt thankfully is short lived. Once above the old cut, the trail resumes on a saner grade and enters beautiful old growth forest and soon afterward, the Glacier Peak Wilderness. At 4.5 miles reach the outlet of 4,485-foot Crystal Lake. Its meadowy shores and good camps invite spending some time here.

For Circle Peak, cross the creek below the outlet and pick-up a well built trail. The way circles back above the old cut and makes a fairly level run through old growth forest along a high ridge. The trail is in excellent shape despite its light use. However there is a small slide that needs to be negotiated. Take your time and you should be fine. The way eventually drops about 350 feet to the Circle Creek valley coming to a junction with the short spur leading from closed FR 2703. This is an alternative approach that can be mountain biked to making the hike shorter.

Now start climbing again crossing a small old cut and reentering old growth. Cross Circle Creek on a bridge and skirt a beautiful marshy meadow. Then back in to the forest before emerging in meadows. The way then steeply winds one mile through some of the finest wildflower alpine meadows in the area. At 9.3 miles, reach the old lookout spot. The final pitch to the summit requires a small catwalk that is narrow and exposed and potentially dangerous. There’s no need to go all the way, as the views from where you are standing are grand. Look across the Suiattle River Valley to Green Mountain and its controversial lookout. Look out to Mount Baker in the distance and Glacier Peak just a ridge away. And look too to Washington’s “three Matterhorns;” White Chuck, Pugh, and Sloan. Indigo Lake sparkles below—one of many hidden gems in this lightly hiked section of the Mountain Loop Highway area.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Circle Peak visit www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

For more information on hikes in and around the Mountain Loop Highway consult my  best selling Day Hiking North Cascades Book 0486

 

Copper Butte via Old Stage Trail– Take a historic route to the rooftop of the Kettle River Range

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Looking south along the Kettle Crest.

Quick Facts:

Location: Kettle River Range

Land Agency: Colville National Forest

Roundtrip: 6.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1615 feet

Contact: Colville National Forest, Three Rivers Ranger District-Kettle Falls

Access: From Republic, head east on SR 20 for 21 miles turning left onto FR 2030 (Albion Hill Road). From Kettle Falls, head west on SR 20 for 22 miles turning right onto FR 2030. Follow FR 2030 for 7.1 miles turning left onto the spur to the Old Stage Trail. Reach trailhead.

Good to Know: dog-friendly, exceptional wildflowers, historic fire lookout site

Of the several ways you can hike to Copper Butte, this route is the shortest and easiest to the highest point in the Kettles. The hike starts on the Old Stage Trail which is a restored section of a wagon road first constructed in 1892. An early attempt by legislators to construct a northern east-west route across the state, the Old Stage route was short lived, replaced in 1898 by one over Sherman Pass.

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Brilliant wildflowers on the Copper Butte

Beginning by a creek in cool forest, the way gradually climbs. After rounding a ridge the trail breaks out into a recovering burn zone. After 1.6 miles of enjoyable strolling, reach a junction with the Kettle Crest Trail at a high windblown saddle. For Copper Butte, turn left and very soon afterward, turn left again. The old stage route continues straight to Lambert Creek, but you’re now following the 43-mile plus Kettle Crest Trail. Up the steep northern slopes of Copper Butte, steadily climb through snags and rejuvenating greenery. Blueberry bushes along the forest floor provide forage for grouse and create a crimson carpet come October.

A couple of switchbacks ease the climb—then it’s one final push to the top. At 3.0 miles crest the broad butte. Within a swath of brilliant wildflowers flanked by whitebark pines and subalpine firs, a big cairn marks the mountain’s 7,140-foot highpoint. The site of a fire lookout, now all that remains is a rusted bed frame and some scattered debris.

The views however haven’t changed over the decades. They’re still grand. Look south along the rounded Kettle Crest to bulky peaks cloaked in golden lawns and emerald canopies. Peer northward and trace the lumpy spine of the Kettle Crest into British Columbia. Gaze west over sprawling rangelands in spacious valleys carved by retreating glaciers from another era. Then cast your eyes east to a sea of peaks rising progressively higher into Idaho. Not a bad visual payoff for such a non-taxing hike!

Copper Butte sits in the center of one of the largest unprotected roadless areas remaining within Eastern Washington. Conservationists are currently working on securing wilderness protection for this special mountain range—a biological bridge between the Cascades and the Rocky Mountains.

For more detailed information on this hike and many others within the Kettle River Range and throughout the Colville National Forest, pick up a copy of my (co-written with Rich Landers) Day Hiking Eastern Washington (Mountaineers Books)Day Hiking Eastn Washington

 For a great place to stay in the nearby historic gold mining town of Republic, check out the Northern InnNorthern-Inn-620x435

Flower Dome –Beauty blossoms from this peak deep within the Glacier Peak Wilderness

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Glacier Peak and the Flower Dome from Buck Creek Pass (c) C. Romano

Quick Facts:

Location: Glacier Peak Wilderness

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 21.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,700 feet

Green Trails Map: Holden, WA- No. 113

Contact: Darrington Ranger District: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest                                                                            Notes: Northwest Forest Pass or Interagency Pass required

Access: From Everett, head 85 miles east on US 2 to Coles Corner turning left onto SR 207. At 4.0 miles bear right at a Y-intersection onto the Chiwawa Loop Road and after 1.3 miles turn left onto the Chiwawa River Road (FR 62). Proceed for 22.5 miles to trailhead at road’s end

Good to Know: dog-friendly, backpacking, wilderness rules apply, exceptional wildflowers

 

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Flower Dome and Glacier Peak from Helmet Butte (c) C. Romano

Okay—it’s no easy day hike to the easternmost summit located entirely within Snohomish County. But it is a fairly easy overnight trip. The long trail leading up to the short spur to the Flower Dome is maintained well and well graded. Beautiful old-growth forest will keep you well shaded at the trail’s lower elevations, while stunning alpine views will keep your mind occupied as you climb higher. And once you reach the sprawling meadows at Buck Creek Pass, a mere 1.0 mile away from the Flower Dome, you’ll be glad you’re spending the night. You may want to spend several, especially after you watch the evening sunlight dance off of the icy and snowy face of Snohomish County’s highest and grandest summit, 10,541-foot Glacier Peak

From the trailhead located near the old mining now ghost town of Trinity, follow the Buck Creek Trail for 9.6 long but fairly easy miles to Buck Creek Pass. Catch your breath and reel in your jaw staring at majestic Glacier Peak. Now continue on the Buck Pass Trail north for .3 mile descending a couple of hundred feet in a splendid meadow. Locate the Flower Dome Trail taking off left and follow it .6 mile to the 6,332-foot open summit. Then kick back and enjoy the views. Glacier Peak! The Suiattle River Valley, Plummer Mountain, Helmet Butte and the Liberty Cap. There’s a lot of future exploring you can do here in Snohomish County’s wildest and remotest reaches. So, while soaking up those views, get out your Green Trails maps and start planning an extended adventure!

For information on lodging and other attractions in Snohomish County, visit: www.snohomish.org.Snohomish-NEW

For detailed information on other great Snohomish County hiking destinations including many in and near county population centers; pick up your free copy of the 2015-16 Hiking in Snohomish County booklet (available at county visitor centers) or download one for free here.

For more details on this hike and other long-distance hikes within the Glacier Peak Wilderness and beyond-pick up a copy of my best-selling Backpacking Washington (Mountaineers Books)Backpacking Book cover