NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK
This place (and a ton of other places) was a huge reason we wanted to come to the Seattle area. As soon as we knew we were coming, we searched campground reservations and got the last spot at the Newhalem Campground, which is right within the park. We drove up from Kent after work and arrived to the campground about 7pm. That night we just relaxed and made dinner and got ready for a busy Saturday!
DAY 1 SATURDAY 06.23.2018
As usual, we tried to pack a lot into the day. We like to enjoy the things we do but at the same time we like to plan a lot. I would rather plan to much than too little and scratch some things off the list than finish early and wish we had more to do. Here are the plans for day 1...
Ladder Creek Falls
Gorge Creek Falls
Diablo Lake Vista Point
Ross Lake Overlook
Rainy Lake Hike
Blue Lake Hike
Washington Pass Observation
Ladder Creek Falls: This is a really neat spot and very close to the campground. I would actually recommend coming here at night due to the unique light display (we came back in August with Leslie's family and checked it out in the evening to see the lights). Either way, you will cross a bridge over to the short area of trails that takes you to the river and the falls.
Gorge Creek Falls: You're going to want to park right before the bridge. If you go past the bridge, there is another parking area just past it (also RV's and larger vehicles are supposed to park past the bridge). Heading away from the campground, the most impressive waterfall is going to be from the bridge looking to your left. There is a walkway on the bridge so get out of the car and check it out. And if you're not afraid of heights, look down! Across the street, there is also some impressive scenery and a paved walking path (that we did not explore much of).
Diablo Lake Vista Point: Yes, that is the actual color of the water. Photos of this view wowed me and were a huge part of why we wanted to come here. There's a large parking lot here and it's very easy to access. There are several viewing points along the fence to get slightly different perspectives. I would highly recommend making a stop here to check it out.
Ross Lake Overlook: First of all, when I google "Ross Lake Overlook," all the pictures that show up are of the Diablo Lake Overlook. So, don't get as excited about this overlook as the Diablo Overlook. With that said, it's not as obvious to find and there are no signs. There are 2 pull-offs and they are kind of blocked by trees but here is a look at what we saw...
Rainy Lake: Don't let the trailhead fool you; this is a pretty short and easy hike. It feels like every Washington hike just goes straight up. The trail starts in a foresty area but it never goes up. It's a 2 mile RT hike that is pretty flat throughout. And the end view is amazing. It's an excellent bang for your buck hike as the end will leave you at a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and a waterfall in the distance (maybe season dependent??). If you're looking for a long, strenuous hike for a feeling of achievement, maybe try something else!
Blue Lake Hike: This was our bigger hike of the day. This is a 4.4 mi out & back hike that ascends 1,050 feet. [Note: Per wta.org, as of 7/30/18, this trail has been closed due to wildfires. Check here for more up-to-date info cause I can't say when I'll get back to this post to update it myself :)] If you are able to do this hike, the climb was fairly gradual. This weekend in June that we did it, the trail was still very snowy. We came back just a month later with Leslie's family and the snow was gone! At certain angles, the lake looks a deep blue and the water is so clear. I would highly recommend this hike, however, it is definitely a challenge, so keep that in mind.
Washington Pass Overlook: Another very short trail (.25 mi loop), that provides an excellent couple of views. It's definitely worth it if you're trying to fit in as much as possible, as we usually do. There's a decent sized parking lot and a couple of picnic tables (by the parking area - no view) as well.
That was more than enough for one day! Even with all that, we were done by about 4pm and were ready to come back to the campground and relax for the evening.
On top of that, we actually didn't end up doing much the next day. For Sunday, we planned on the challenging Thornton Lakes & Trappers Peak hike that is a 10 mile RT hike with a 3000' elevation gain. It was on the way back toward Seattle from the campground. I slept pretty poorly and just wasn't feeling it so we bailed and did a short and easy 2 mile river walk loop before heading home!
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