Sultan River Canyon Trail– A near yet remote canyon housing big trees and a wild stretch of river

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A seasoned and newbie hiker enjoy a quiet moment in the Sultan Canyon.

Quick Facts:

Location: Sultan Basin

Land Agency: Snohomish County Public Utility District 

Roundtrip: 4.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 850 feet

Green Trails Map: Index- No. 142 (trail new and not shown on map)

Access:  From Everett follow US 2 east to Sultan. At a traffic light just past Milepost 23 turn left onto Sultan Basin Road. Follow for 13.2 miles (pavement ends at 10.4 miles) to an information kiosk. Stop and sign-in acknowledging that you understand the rules and regulations for visiting the Sultan Basin which is Everett’s public water supply. Then bear left at a Y-intersection and continue 1.6 miles to parking area and trailhead.

Contact:  Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest 

Notes: Register (no fee) at kiosk at watershed entrance;; dogs permitted on leash

Good to Know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly

 

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Loggers never made it to this part of the Sultan River Canyon.

Opened this year, this new trail takes you deep into the Sultan River Canyon where towering old growth trees and steep slopes shade a remote section of the Sultan River. The hike starts on a gated dirt road near the entrance of the parking area. Walk this road through pleasant forest gradually climbing about 250 feet.

After one mile, come to the beginning of the actual trail which is clearly signed. Now begin your descent into the deep dark canyon. Via a good grade the way switchbacks downward into the rugged canyon. The steep slopes here prevented past loggers from harvesting the canyon’s towering old trees. You’ll pass some impressive ancient giants. You’ll pass some nice small seasonal cascades too.

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Deep within the Sultan River Canyon.

At 2.2 miles reach the canyon’s lush bottom and the rippling Sultan River. During the summer months, sunlight reaches the canyon floor allowing you to prop on a riverside rock and enjoy a sunny spot along the river. Watch for dippers flitting in the cool waters. After enjoying this quiet and remote spot prepare for your return journey where a 600 foot climb out of the canyon waits for you.

 

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Sultan Basin visit: www.snohomish.orgSnohomish-NEW

 For detailed information on this and other area hikes along US 2, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades, which contains 125 hikes complete with maps and lots of other important information.

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

Hannegan Peak– Supreme views of snow and ice—and that’s the truth, Ruth!

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The view of Mount Ruth will leave you frozen in astonishment!

Quick Facts:

Location: North Cascades Mount Baker Wilderness

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 10.4 miles

Elevation gain: 3,100 feet

Green Trails Map: Mount Baker Wilderness 13S

Contact: Glacier Public Service Center (360) 599-2714 or Mount Baker Ranger District: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest 

Notes: Northwest Trail Pass required; Wilderness rules apply

Access: From Bellingham follow SR 542 (Mount Baker Highway) east for 47 miles turning left onto FR 32 (Hannigan Pass Road) just before bridge over North Fork Nooksack River. Follow FR 32 for 5.3 miles to road end and trailhead.

Good to Know: exceptional wildflowers; dog-friendly, Mount Baker Wilderness

 

Venture up a wide open avalanched valley flanked by stark walls and snowy-crags, and reverberating with the sounds of crashing water. Under the ever-watchful eye of snow and ice shrouded Ruth Mountain make your way to a lonely pass—one of the few trailed portals into the deep wilderness of the North Cascades National Park. From here make a steep ascent to the 6,186-foot summit of Mount Hannegan to dizzying views of a plethora of North Cascades summits.

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Traverse an herbaceous valley on the way to the peak.

Starting on a wide path through avalanche chutes and cluster of hemlocks, head up the valley. Fantastic views immediately greet you.  Sparkling waters glide off towering polished walls. Tenacious snowfields cling to dark clefts in spiraling crags. Water everywhere! Cross several creeks en route to your alpine objective.

The magnificently snow-capped Ruth Mountain soon comes into view keeping a lock on your attention for the rest of this hike. Cross rock slides and gullies, young and old. At about 3.0 miles, cross a creek beneath a refreshing cascade before entering thick forest and finally beginning to gain some noticeable elevation.

Now switchbacking towards Hannegan Pass, at 3.5 miles pass a spur trail leading right across lovely meadows to backcountry campsites. Continue upward through forest and meadow reaching the 5,050-ft pass at 4.0 miles. Take a break and resume climbing, following a trail left from the pass. Ascending over 1,000 feet in 1.2 miles, it’s a steep grunt. But once you break out upon the talus and tundra top of the 6,186-foot peak, there’ll be no doubt in your mind that it was worth it.

Now from one of the best viewing posts in these parts, scan the horizons. West down the valley you came along serrated Nooksack Ridge. Look north down the Silesia Creek Valley to BC’s Slesse Mountain. East, follow Copper Ridge out to massive Mount Redoubt in the distance. But by far, your eyes will spend the most time fixed south on snowy Baker, Shuksan, and Ruth. And that’s the truth! What a view!

 

                             For more information on hiking Hannegan Peak and many other nearby summits and lakes, consult my                                                                     Day Hiking North Cascades Book.0486

For great family-friendly ideas on where to stay and other places to play near Mount Baker consult Northwest TripFinderNWTFmasthead_layers15

Fortune Ponds–Two little tranquil bodies of water deep within the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness

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Lower Fortune Pond on a misty summer afternoom.

Quick Facts:

Location: Beckler River Valley

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Service

Roundtrip: 13.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,700 feet

Green Trails Map: Benchmark Mtn- No. 144

Access:  From Everett head east on US 2 for 50 miles to Skykomish turning left onto the Beckler River Road (FR 65). Continue north for 6.9 miles to pavement’s end and a three way junction. Turn right onto FR 6530 and continue for 4.5 miles to trailhead.

 Contact:  Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest 

Notes: Wilderness rules apply

 Good to Know: dog-friendly, backpacking options; berry picking, Wild Sky and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness areas

 

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Not all trail users mind getting wet at the Meadow Creek crossing.

The Fortunes are just two of the many riches to be found in the Henry M Jackson Wilderness, an area encompassing over 100,000 acres of prime Central Cascades backcountry. Named for Everett native, Senator “Scoop” Jackson, this region consists of unbroken old-growth forests, sparkling alpine lakes, and sprawling meadows. The Fortune Ponds via the Meadow Creek Trail allows you to experience this special section of the Cascades in relative solitude.

Beginning in second growth forest, the trail immediately starts climbing. Soon enter the Wild Sky Wilderness, established in 2008. The surrounding forest succumbed to fire in 1967 but it is recovering well. In about 2.0 miles the grade eases as you enter the Jackson Wilderness where the forest transforms into magnificent old-growth.

Continue up the Meadow Creek Valley passing slopes bearing countless avalanche scars. Snow often lingers long along the creek’s west banks at the base of these chutes. At about 3.5 miles cross the creek, getting your boots wet in the process. Then continue up the valley alongside the gurgling creek. At about 4.5 miles cross the creek again; this time in marshy Fortune Pass.

Find a fortune of peace and solitude at the Fortune Ponds.

Upper Fortune Pond.

Now prepare to once again steeply climb. As forest cover thins, the grade eases as you now traverse huckleberry patches and heather meadows. Views open up north to miles of sprawling alpine meadows draping the Cascade Crest.  At 6.5 miles your long journey into the wilderness comes to an end as the Lower Fortune Pond is reached.

Perched in a small bowl, waterfall fed and surrounded by parkland meadow, the ambience at Lower Fortune is quite serene. Remove boots, soak feet, lie back and let the soothing and healing powers of nature caress you.

To reach the Upper Fortune Pond, continue up trail for another .25 mile. Then leave it in a southwesterly direction through semi-open forest. After a little brush crashing arrive at the attractive and tranquil body of water.

 

For information on lodging and other attractions near the Beckler River Valley visit: www.snohomish.org

 Snohomish-NEW

For detailed information on this and other area hikes, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades, which contains 125 hikes complete with maps and lots of other important information.

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

Surprise and Glacier Lakes—A surprisingly nice pair of alpine lakes near Stevens Pass

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Early morning at Surprise Lake.

Quick Facts:

Location: Stevens Pass area

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Roundtrip: 11.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,800 feet

Contact: Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Notes: Northwest Forest Pass required; Dogs permitted on leash; Wilderness rules apply

Access: From Everett follow US 2 east to Skykomish. Continue 10 more miles turning right (just after the Iron Goat Interpretive Center) into the old railroad community of Scenic. Turn right after crossing the railroad tracks and follow a dirt road .3 mile to the trailhead.

Green Trails Map: Alpine Lakes Stevens Pass No. 176S

Good to know: dog-friendly, backpacking opportunities, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

 

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Beyond Glacier Lake, an old trail leads to Surprise Pass and Surprise Mountain.

Hike to two gorgeous alpine lakes flanked by towering evergreens and slopes of shiny granite ledge. But even more spectacular than these backcountry bodies of water is the surrounding forest. It’s one of the finest tracts of old-growth along the US 2 corridor.

Begin by walking a short distance up a service road before turning left onto real trail. Now, on good tread, sturdy stairs and solid planking head up the narrow Surprise Creek Valley through a magnificent forest of ancient cedars and giant hemlocks. Soon enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

At about 1.0 mile the trail crosses cascading Surprise Creek on a big log before skirting beneath some avalanche slopes. Then undulating between patches of brush and groves of primeval forest the trail continues up the valley climbing more steeply. At 4.5 miles, after winding around talus and ascending steep forested slopes reach a trail junction just shy of Surprise Lake. The trail left climbs briskly towards Trap Pass connecting with the Pacific Crest Trail. Continue right across a marshy meadow and a precarious creek crossing to the lake.

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The view of Glacier and Surprise lakes from Surprise Mountain is–Surprise-Gorgeous!

A popular destination, treat it well. Find a quiet shoreline ledge or boulder to soak rays or feet. While away the afternoon here or continue farther to bigger and prettier Glacier Lake by continuing south along the trail climbing a rib above Surprise Lake to a junction with the PCT. After passing a big talus slope locate an unmarked trail heading right and take it, dropping steeply 50 feet or so to granite bound Glacier Lake. No glaciers, but lots of granite. Surprise and Glacier are also known as the Scenic Lakes, and I can’t argue with that moniker.

Surprise and Glacier Lakes are one of the 125 featured hikes in my Day Hiking Central Cascades Book (Mountaineers). For more details on this hike and many others in the region, pick up a copy of this handy guide today!

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

125 hikes from Everett to Wenatchee!

For places to stay and other places to play along the US 2 corridor check out Northwest TripFinderNWTFmasthead_layers15

Meadow Lake- serene subalpine lake above the Suiattle and White Chuck rivers

After a long hike to Meadow Lake, it's time to enjoy some peace and solitude.

After a long hike to Meadow Lake, it’s time
to enjoy some peace and solitude.

Quick Facts:

Location: White Chuck River Valley, Mountain Loop Highway

Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Service

Roundtrip: 16.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet

Green Trails Map: Sloan Peak, WA- No. 111

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 27. Continue for another 2.4 miles to trailhead.

Contact: Darrington Ranger District: Mount Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest 

Notes: Trail partially open to mountain bikes; wilderness rules apply at lake

Good to Know: dog-friendly, backpacking options; berry picking, Glacier Peak Wilderness

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Meadows, old-growth, and solitude.

Meadow Lake is a small body of way tucked high on Meadow Mountain in the western edge of the sprawling Glacier Peak Wilderness. Once it was an easy 3.0 mile hike to reach this meadow-ringed lake surrounded by old growth forest. Then in the 1980s the hike’s length grew considerably to 8.0 miles due to the decommissioning of the logging road leading to its trailhead. By the early 2000s, the trail was nearly inaccessible when remaining access roads washed out in numerous locations. But now the lake is once again reachable thanks to road upgrades. And while the hike is still long, it’s not difficult. The old logging road—now trail—is easy to walk, and the Meadow Mountain Trail leading to the lake spur  is in good shape. Strong day hikers and backpackers looking for a quick  getaway may want to take an upcoming “field” trip to Meadow Lake!

Begin by following an old road bed, climbing a couple of hundred feet; then losing most of it. If the old logging road is too much of a slog—it is open to bikes—so consider mountain biking it to the old trailhead. At 1.5 miles, reach a junction. The trail left heads to Crystal Lake and Circle Peak—worthy destinations for future trips. Continue right soon crossing Crystal Creek and then slowly gaining elevation traversing side slopes above the White Chuck River Valley.

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A view of Mount Pugh from an old logging landing.

You’ll be traversing along old cuts. While alders have obscured viewing from the road-trail, there are a few windows in the trees along the way granting some decent views over the White Chuck Valley and over to impressive Mount Pugh, too. There are some glimpse as well of Three Fingers and Glacier Peak.

At 5.1 miles the old road ends and genuine trail begins. If you biked—this is as far as you can pedal. Now wind your way thorough impressive old growth on good tread and on a steady grade. At 6.6 miles, cross a creek and come to the beginning of Meadow Mountain’s extensive meadows. Views begin too. At 7.2 miles reach a junction (el. 5,070 feet). The Meadow Mountain Trail continues right going to higher ground, excellent views and lots of surprises.

You want to head left entering the Glacier Peak Wilderness and following a creek downward for a few hundred feet. The way is a little brushy and little rough. Stop for some teaser views to Green Mountain and Snow King. At 8.0 miles reach little Meadow Lake (el. 4,750 feet) surrounded by old growth forest and—meadows! Enjoy the tranquility. Nice camps can be found at the lake’s outlet if you are lured to spend the night.

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

For detailed information on other area hikes, consult my best selling Day Hiking North Cascades, which contains 125 hikes complete with maps and lots of other important information.0486