USA: WASHINGTON: North Cascades, Skagit Delta

Photos from hikes and sights in the North Cascades mountain range in the state of Washington (USA) include the following galleries: Mount Baker Highway 542, North Cascades Highway 20, Cascade River Road, Baker Lake Road, and Skagit River Delta.

Mount Baker Highway 542 to Heather Meadows

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Recommended hikes and sights along Mount Baker Highway 542 east of Bellingham in the North Cascades mountain range:

  • The volcanic cone of Mount Baker rises to 10,781 feet elevation.
  • Church Mountain trail is a hike of 8.5 miles round trip with 3800 feet elevation gain in Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest. Trailhead is 5 miles east of Glacier Public Service Center.
  • Excelsior Pass is the next hike east (off of Highway 542) in Mount Baker Wilderness.
  • Further east, hike scenic Hannegan Peak 10 miles round trip with 3100 feet elevation gain.
  • In late afternoon, don’t miss seeing Mount Shuksan reflected in Picture Lake or Highwood Lake, where Highway 542 splits into a one way loop around the lakes in Heather Meadows Recreation Area. For a special treat, hike at peak autumn color season in early October. Picture Lake (located in Heather Meadows, Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest) reflects Mount Shuksan (9127 feet elevation in North Cascades National Park).
  • The Galena Chain Lakes Loop Trail is one of the most rewarding hikes in Washington. Every turn reveals majestic views, including Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker, and wild lakes. I like starting from the bottom, at the Ski Area parking lot at Bagley Lakes trailhead in Heather Meadows Recreation Area, for a counterclockwise loop 7.3 miles with 1800 feet gain and loss. (If the road to Artist Point is open, then starting at Heather Meadows Visitors Center shortens the loop to 6.1 miles.) Starting in the early morning and going counterclockwise optimizes photographic lighting at each viewpoint. From Bagley Lakes, ascend 1200 feet to Herman Saddle, descend to Chain Lakes (Iceberg Lake, Hayes Lake, Mazama Lake), ascend 600 feet to Ptarmigan Ridge junction, traverse to Artist Point (where a car shuttle can save walking 1.3 miles), then descend steeply to where you started. Hiking from late July through mid October helps avoid the chance of snowy footing. For a shorter, out-and-back hike, start at Artist Point for a) 2.8 miles round trip to the top of Table Mountain, or b) 3 miles round trip to the Ptarmigan Ridge turnoff (or higher onto Mount Baker), or c) about 6 miles round trip to Hayes Lake with 700 feet of loss and gain.

North Cascades Highway 20

Photos from hikes and sights along State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, Washington, include:

  • Sauk Mountain is an easy day hike of 4 miles round trip and 1100 feet vertical gain, near the town of Concrete.
  • Camp with your vehicle in the impressive scenery of Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
  • From Rainy Pass, hike Maple Pass Loop (7 miles with 2000 feet gain) or Cutthroat Pass (9-12 miles round trip with 1800-2300 feet gain).
  • Near Washington Pass, hike easy Blue Lake Trail, especially beautiful in early October when larch needles turn golden.
  • Near Mazama, hike Harts Pass and Grasshopper Pass on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in Okanogan National Forest for more golden larch color in early October.

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Cascade River Road to Sahale, Stehekin, Hidden Lake hikes

Photos from hikes and sights along Cascade River Road which departs North Cascades Highway 20 at Marblemount, Washington:

  • Hike Hidden Lake Lookout (8 miles round trip with 3500 feet elevation gain).
  • Hike Cascade Pass (7 miles round trip with 1800 feet gain) or further up to Sahale Arm (11 miles round trip with 3000 feet gain), a favorite for views of stunning U-shaped glaciated valleys and soaring ice clad peaks. Backpack onwards into wild Stehekin River Valley which connects to Lake Chelan and the Lady of the Lake passenger ferry.

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Baker Lake Road

Below are photos from hikes and sights along Baker Lake Road in the North Cascades mountain range, Mount Baker National Recreation Area, Washington. The Railroad Grade Trail follows a lateral moraine of the Easton Glacier which flows from the south side of Mount Baker (10,781 feet).

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Skagit River Delta

Photos from the Skagit River Delta include large flocks of snow geese on farmers’ fields, and expanses of commercial tulips and daffodils (Narcissus) blooming in mid April.

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