White Chuck Cinder Cone — Coolest volcanic cone north of Lassen

Quick Facts:


A backpacker admires the White Chuck Cinder Cone as Glacier Peak hovers in the distance.

Location: Glacier Peak Wilderness,Mountain Loop Highway near Darrington

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 24.0 miles

Elevation gain: 5,200 feet

Green Trails Map: Silverton, WA- No 110, Glacier Peak- No. 112

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

Notes: NW Forest Pass or Interagency Pass required

Access: From Darrington, head south 16 miles on the Mountain Loop Highway. Then turn left and follow FR 49 for 6.4 miles to Sloan Creek Trailhead.

Good to Know: old-growth; seclusion; Glacier Peak Wilderness, Pacific Crest Trail; backpacking, exceptional wildflowers

Located at the headwaters of the White Chuck River within the shadows of snowy showy Glacier Peak; it’s a long hike to the White Chuck Cinder Cone. But, what a hike to one of the finest—and most remote cinder cones in the Cascades. Cinder cones are simple volcanoes that develop from particles and congealed lava ejected from a single vent. These cones usually form a circular or oval cone with a bowl shaped crater. Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California contains a great example. Wizard Island in Crater Lake National Park and Pilot Butte in Bend are great cinder cones too—and easily accessible.

The White Chuck Cinder Cone, first discovered in 1934, requires at least a two day backpack to reach and explore it. The shortest route to it is via the North Fork Sauk River Trail accessed from the Mountain Loop Highway. From the trailhead, immediately enter the sprawling Glacier Peak Wilderness, and follow alongside the North Fork Sauk through majestic primeval forest.


Autumn adds a red hue to the White Chuck Cinder Cone.

At 5.8 miles, good campsites can be found near the Mackinaw Shelter. The trail then climbs steeply gaining 3,000 vertical feet up hot southern exposed slopes stripped of shade thanks to numerous avalanches. At 9.0 miles, reach the Pacific Crest Trail and head left traversing high windswept meadows where only the wide reaching views are more impressive than the dazzling wildflower display

After cresting 6,450-foot Red Pass, descend into a barren high basin where snows often linger long. Melt water cascades and alpine breezes break the stillness. At about 11.5 miles, a faint path leads left to a small tarn beneath the nearly 200-foot White Chuck Cinder Cone. Good but exposed camps can be found east of the tarn. The cinder cone can be scrambled from the west. The view of Glacier Peak and the White Chuck basin from it is breathtaking! Excellent campsites can also be found another mile down the PCT in the parkland Glacier Peak Meadows. Stay for awhile.

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Mountain Loop Highway, visit www.snohomish.org.Snohomish-NEW

 For more information on this hike and many others weekend and week long backpacking trips in Washington, consult my Backpacking Washington.Backpacking Book cover

 For information on things to do in Darrington, click here!

Tomlike Mountain–There’s much to like about this Columbia River Gorge peak

Quick Facts:

Mount Adams-Columbia Gorge 246

Tomlike Mountain offers excellent views of Mount Hood, as well as Mount St Helens and Mount Adams.

Location: Mark Hatfield Wilderness, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Land Agency: Mount Hood National Forest

Roundtrip: 6.0 miles

Elevation gain: 1,300 feet

Green Trails Map: Columbia River Gorge -West No 428S

Contact: Mount Hood National Forest, Hood River Ranger Station

Notes: Northwest Forest Pass or Inter-agency Pass Required

Access: From Hood River, head south on 13th Street (County Road 281) which eventually becomes Tucker Road. At 5.1 miles bear right onto Dee Highway, which is still CR 281. Continue for 6.2 miles bearing right to bridge crossing Hood River then bear left onto Lost Lake Road (signed for Wahtum Lake). After 4.9 miles, bear right onto paved FR 13. After 4.5 miles, bear right onto FR 1310 following for 6.0 miles to trailhead.

Good to Know: old-growth; Mark O.Hatfield Wilderness area; dog-friendly; backpacking opportunities; exceptional wildflowers in season

A rocky windswept high point along the Woolly Horn Ridge, you’re sure to like Tomlike’s flower-adorned view-bursting summit. This hike starts high and stays high but there’s a few ups-and-downs along the way. Start on the Anthill Trail which takes off from behind the trailhead privy. This nice trail, often overlooked by the crowds that flock to Wahtum Lake gradually ascends up the spine of a ridge dividing the Eagle Creek and Hood River watersheds. En route there are excellent views of Wahtum, Chinidere Mountain, Mount Hood and even Mount Jefferson.

After cresting the Anthill’s high point, gradually descend through huckleberry patches reaching an old road—now the Wahtum-Rainy Lake Trail. Then continue straight soon entering the Mark Hatfield O. Wilderness coming to the Herman Creek Trail at 2.0 miles. Turn right and after a few strides look for an unmarked trail taking off left just before the main trail bends right and descends. Take this boot path. It’s a pretty straightforward albeit at times a little brushy route along the ridgecrest.

Mount Adams-Columbia Gorge 216

The ridge hike to Tomlike looks a lot like an Appalachian Mountain hike.

Continuing on ledge lined with stunted junipers, hikers who hail from the Northeast will feel right at home on this peak as it looks like it could be right out of New Hampshire’s rocky White Mountains. Follow cairns up and over a rocky knoll. Carefully work your way up shale and scree reaching the 4,555-foot summit at 3.0 miles.

Then hold on to your hat, for if the strong winds don’t knock it off, the horizon spanning views will! From Washington’s Larch Mountain to Oregon’s Larch Mountain, Silver Star, Rainier, St Helens, Adams, Dog, Tanner Butte, the fluted flattop Benson Plateau, and glistening Mount Hood Rising above them all! And wildflowers and bear grass too—swaying in the strong breezes.

Tomlike was Chief Chinidere’s son, and naming this beautiful mountain and the adjacent peak just to the north after these two members of the Wasco Tribe is a deep honor. And you’ll probably be honoring the beauty of the Columbia Gorge country from atop this peak!

For more detailed information on this hike and 99 others in the Columbia River Gorge, check out my Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge Book.Columbia River Gorge Cover

For more information on other things to do in the area and where to eat and stay, consult Northwest Tripfinder.NWTFmasthead_layers15


Jetty Island– It may be manmade, but it’s naturally delightful!

Quick Facts:


On an overcast day it is is possible to enjoy this popular spot alone.

Location: Everett

Land Agency: Everett Parks and Recreation

Roundtrip: up to 5.0 miles

Elevation gain: none

Difficulty: Easy

Contact: Everett Parks and Recreation Department

Notes: Parking fee $3.00 (credit card or exact amount cash)

Passenger Ferry runs from July 1st until Labor Day and is free ($2.00 donation suggested) but pick up boarding pass (required) at ferry kiosk. Consult website for ferry schedule and reservations (strongly advised) information.

Dogs prohibited

Other rules and regulation in effect—refer to website

Access: From South take Exit 193 on I-5 in Everett and head west onto Pacific Avenue for 1.0 mile. Then turn right onto West Marine View Drive (which becomes SR 529) and continue for just shy of 2.0 miles turning left onto the 10th Street Boat Launch and Marine Park.  From North take Exit 198 in Marysville and follow SR 529 (which eventually becomes Marine Drive) to 10th Street Boat Launch and Marine Park.  Proceed to passenger ferry kiosk at waterfront.

Good to know: kid-friendly, beach walking, bird watching

Who would have guessed that one of the finest beaches in all of Snohomish County is in Everett? That’s right, Everett! No, not along this city’s developed waterfront, but just off of it! Jetty Island, to be precise—a two mile long sandy expanse that’s reachable by a five minute passenger ferry.


Bird watching is excellent on Jetty Island.

And if it wasn’t for Everett’s industrial past and developed waterfront, there would be no Jetty Island. It was created by man, not nature. Beginning in the 1890s, the Army Corp of Engineers built a jetty just north of Port Gardiner—then commenced to dredge a channel. The spoils along with silt and sedimentation from the Snohomish River eventually created an island.

It didn’t take long for sand to accumulate too from tidal influences. Plants began to colonize the island as well. Birds arrived—nested—and the island began taking on characteristics of a wild place. It is! The city eventually realized the natural (albeit manmade) gem that lay within its harbor. In the 1980s the Everett Park and Recreation Department began providing passenger service to the island. Today over 50,000 folks visit this sandy gem. Summer weekends can be busy and the parks department limits the number of visitors, so best plan on arriving early—and be flexible on your return trip as the ferry can only take 80 people at a time.

Once you arrive on the island, walk past a restroom (only one on the island) to a small picnic area and two “Discovery huts;” the site for regular interpretive programs. To the left of this area a small interpretive nature trail takes off south across salt marshes. To the west of the huts and picnic tables a well worn path passes by more tables and some volleyball nets to deliver you to the beach. And what a beach—especially during low tides when extensive sand flats reach into Possession Sound.

You can hike south on the beach to the jetty and north on the beach all the way the mouth of the Snohomish River Delta. A fairly large lagoon has developed just north of the island’s recreation area involving some channel crossing—unless you choose instead to walk around the bird loving lagoon. And you’ll see lots of birds on the island—sandpipers, osprey, kingfishers, herons, finches, ducks, and more.

A few trees have taken root on Jetty, but it’s mostly a place of little shade. You won’t be able to walk around the island as the channel side contains no beach. And the narrow interior of the island is cloaked in blackberry and other shrubs. But the beach is wide and smooth and you can easily walk 4 to 5 miles going from tip to tip.


Explore the island’s marsh for wildlife and photo opps.

On a sunny day, soak in views of the Olympic Mountains; Whidbey, Camano, and Gedney Islands; downtown Everett and a backdrop of Cascades Mountains. On an overcast day, savor the shadows in the sand and relative solitude enjoying this peaceful place that lies just minutes from downtown Washington’s sixth largest city. Jetty Island is more than just a breakwater—it’s a place to take a break from the urban world!

For information on lodging and other attractions In Everett near Jetty Island visit www.snohomish.org

For more information on hiking in Snohomish County, check out Hiking in Snohomish County, a full color freebooklet published by the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau and written by award-winning author Craig Romano.Snohomish Hiking 3rd edition

Abercrombie Mountain– Northeast Washington’s second highest summit is first rate when it comes to views

Quick Facts:


A hiker enjoys lunch and a great view of Hooknose Mountain.

Location: Abercrombie-Hooknose Roadless Area, Selkirk Mountains

Land Agency: Colville National Forest

Roundtrip: 7.4 miles

Elevation gain: 2,300 feet

Contact: Colville National Forest, Three Rivers Ranger District (Colville) (509) 684-3711

Notes: Access road requires high clearance vehicle

Access: From Colville, Washington travel north on Aladdin Road (CR 9435) for 25 miles. Turn right on Deep Lake-Boundary Road (CR 9445) continuing for 7.3 miles to Leadpoint.  Turn right on Silver Creek Road (CR 4720). Follow this road for 1.8 miles turning left onto FR 7078. Continue for 4.5 miles bearing right onto FR spur 300. Continue for 3.3 miles to road’s end and trailhead.

Good to Know: exceptional wildflowers; dog-friendly; historic lookout site.

One foot! Just one lousy foot is all that keeps this lofty peak from being Eastern Washington’s highest summit. That honor goes to nearby Gypsy Peak. Still, this summit is impressive—the views are grand, the meadows resplendent! And Abercrombie is a lot easier to get to than Gypsy.


A wide path barrels through a talus slope near the summit.

The hike to the 7,308’ summit is not too long, but it’s steep in places. Water is readily available along the way for the first mile, but beyond that—after the snow melts it’s a pretty dry hike. The view from this summit is extensive. From the Cascades to the Selkirks—the Monashees to the Purcells—the Pend Oreille River to the Columbia River—and from the Kootenay Valley all the way to the Columbia Plateau.

Beginning on an old logging road, follow this alder-lined way for 1.5 miles to a junction. The trail right offers a longer approach from the Silver Creek Valley. Continue rleft and on good trail start climbing more earnestly. Forest yields to meadows and the views expand with each contour crossed.

At 3.5 miles bear left at the junction with the Flume Creek Trail which drops steeply down the eastside of the mountain. Continue another .2 mile climbing across a wide talus slope reaching the rocky summit. Here on Eastern Washington’s second loftiest summit, admire the ruins of an old fire lookout tower and a monster cairn that in essence adds a few more feet to Abercrombie’s elevation. Then cast your glances outward as the views are sweeping and impressive.

Directly north lies the Hooknose, which can be reached by following a primitive trail from the Flume Creek Trail. The prominent mountain to the northwest is Old Glory in BC’s Rossland, Range. The Kettle Crest dominates the western horizon. Hall Mountain lies directly to the east. And north of Hall is the rugged Crowell Ridge and Gypsy Peak, the supreme mountain in these parts.


Abercrombie is an excellent wildflower hike.

For more information on this hike and many more near it, consult Day Hiking Eastern Washington.Day Hiking Eastn Washington

Abercrombie Mountain is also one of the featured hikes in my guidebook; Best Hikes with Dogs Inland Northwest.Check out this book for info on hiking in BC’s Rossland Range too.

For more information on things to do and places to stay in Northeastern Washington, check out Northwest TripFinder.NWTFmasthead_layers15


Blanca Lake– A strikingly beautiful lake set beneath a formidable wall of jagged peaks

Quick Facts:


Blanca Lake is one of the most stunning sights in the Central Cascades.

Location: Wild Sky and Henry Jackson Wildernesses,North Fork Skykomish River Valley

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 8.4 miles

Elevation gain: 3,300 feet

Green Trails Map: Monte Cristo, WA- No. 143

Contact: Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest

Notes: Northwest Forest Pass or Interagency Pass required. No fires allowed near lake. Wilderness regulations apply.

Access: From Everett head east on US 2 for 49 miles to Skykomish. Continue east for one more mile turning left onto the Beckler River Road (FR 65).Continue north for 15 miles crossing the North Fork Skykomish River and coming to a junction. Turn right onto FR 63 and proceed for 2.0 miles turning left into trailhead parking.

Good to Know: old-growth; Henry M. Jackson Wilderness area; Wild Sky Wilderness; dog-friendly; backpacking opportunities

Set in a large open cirque in the rugged Monte Cristo Peaks, and fed by the Columbia Glacier and icy snowfields, Blanca Lake’s location is one of the most dramatic in the Central Cascades. But what makes this lake really striking, is its cobalt blue water; and its sheen and tone constantly changing depending upon the amount and angle of sunlight making contact with it. While the lake is named Blanca, the only thing white about this body of water is the surrounding snowfields.


The trail traverse impressive old growth forest.

The hike to Blanca isn’t long, but it’s not easy. The first three miles of this trail ruthlessly climb 2,650 feet. Then after a short reprieve on a ridge shrouded in heather meadows, it descends 650 feet to the lake. Hopefully the luxuriant old-growth Douglas-fir and hemlock forest you traverse will keep your mind off of the climb. The ancient forest you’ll be grunting through is all part of Washington’s newest wilderness area, Wild Sky, which was established in 2008.

The way starts off pretty easy. Enter the Wild Sky Wilderness and then begin to climb. After nearly 3.0 miles of incessant switchbacking and climbing the way enters the Henry Jackson Wilderness as you crest a 4,650-foot ridge. Pause for some good albeit limited views east to Benchmark Mountain and majestic volcano, Glacier Peak.


Glacier Peak can be seen from the ridge housing Virgin Lake.

Now in heather fields and subalpine forest find start descending soon coming to tiny Virgin Lake. If you’re planning on spending the night in this area, the campsites here are much nicer and roomier than what you’ll find at Blanca. Continue hiking, descending on tread that was greatly improved thanks to the Washington Trails Association.

After losing 650 feet, enter the large cirque housing Blanca Lake. While the snowfields and glaciers above can accurately be described as blanca, turquoise or aquamarine would be a more fitting description for this gorgeous backcountry lake. Feel free to explore this rugged environment (if you can safely ford the outlet stream) by following a rough path along the lake’s western shoreline, or prop yourself up on a log and just enjoy the view. Enjoy the cool breezes too coming down from the Columbia Glacier, one of the larger ice fields in this part of the Cascades.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Blanca Lake, visit www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

For a free full color guide  to some of the best hikes in Snohomish County visit www.snohomish.org

For more information on this trail and others nearby, check out Day Hiking Central Cascades Book (Mountaineers

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!


For more information on other things to do in the Stevens Pass Area visit Northwest TripFinder.NWTFmasthead_layers15