Best Fall Hikes in the North Cascades


I regularly get requests from magazines asking for images, they specify which places, season, weather, or what ever fits their plans for upcoming issues. If you have any good images of say, Crater Lake at night, then you submit, if they like, your image gets published.

Best Fall Hikes, or October Hikes was one of the categories needed.

I love fall colors, love the lack of bugs and the crisp air for hiking. Its funny, in early July just when access to the high country is about to start, to be thinking ahead to fall. But I spent two days locating and editing images…

Best Fall Hikes in the North Cascades

The North Cascades offer a unique version of fall, The Larch. The mountain larch, or Tamarack, looks like a regular evergreen in the spring or summer, but in early October the needles turn bright orange, and then fall off.

The effect is stunning. The sharp orange, interspersed with greens and browns, maybe a few white clouds in an bright blue sky…are you getting the idea? Its a color junkies dream.

All of these hikes are along (or close to) the Cascade Loop. Check their web site for lots of ideas of more adventures, as well as food/lodging.

Here are the 3 Best Fall Hikes in the North Cascades

The Enchantments

How can you not start with the Enchantments? This is one of the most magical places to hike anywhere in the world. And in early October it just explodes. If you go, plan to spend several days. You’ll not soon forget it! Yes, its a pain to get a permit, and yes, it is a brutal approach to get up and into the Core of the Enchantments with photo gear and 5 days of food, but who ever said Perfection Lake was easily attained? Book a night or two at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth to aid your recovery!

Here are a few images from a recent October trip.

The next Best Fall Hike is another local favorite. Early October weekends will find this trail head packed to overflowing, with cars out along both sides of Highway 20.

Blue Lake and Washington Pass

Larch seem to like an elevation around 6,000 to 8,000 feet. You can see them here draped like a necklace over the neck line of Liberty Bell. Washington Pass, located on the North Cascades Highway offers spectacular views of Liberty Bell Mountain and the north side of Early Winter Spires.

The Blue Lake trail, located about a quarter mile from Washington Pass Overlook, is a short, moderate trail which skirts along the base and then along the back side of the monolith. Once you get to Blue Lake the views back to Early Winter Spires are impossibly beautiful.

Finally for the 3rd Best Fall Hikes in the North Cascades…This last one is a bit further afield, its a long drive over to Eastern Washington, up through Omak, north of Tonasket and on to the Pasayten Wilderness. But the trail, though long, has minimal elevation change and the payoff, at Upper Cathedral Lake will only make you want to stay longer.

Upper Cathedral Lake, Pasayten Wilderness

In some places you’ll find Larch, often interspersed with other trees. Sort of sprinkled about. But here in the Upper Cathedral Lakes basin its almost solid larch. and as you are imagining, its like someone lit the place on fire.The trail takes you up to Sunny Pass, through Horseshoe Basin and along the Boundary Trail (the Canada Border is a stones throw away). This section of the trail is also part of the much longer Pacific Northwest Trail.

 

5 thoughts on “Best Fall Hikes in the North Cascades

  1. Aww wow! Stunning 🙂 we are thinking of heading down those ways for the eclipse!! Looks beautiful, any other recommendations?

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