Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Splendor of the North Cascades - Blue Lake Hike

The drive through the North Cascades is amazingly beautiful.  It is difficult to keep eyes forward on the road with such stunning landscape on both sides.  Fortunately,  there are a few pull offs and wide spots in the road to allow me more than quick glimpses at the scenery.

We moved to Early Winter Campground which is just outside of the North Cascade National Park, but still inside of the National Forrest. You just got to love the price of camping in this National Forest at $ 4 for seniors per night!!.

This campground has a 24 foot limit on trailers so it won't work for everyone but was perfect for us.

 Our Back Porch View

Though we were feeling the beckoning call of Autumns nightly chill, we slept with the windows open to hear the sounds of water as it spilled over the rocks in the creek at our back door.

 By the next morning, we were ready for our Blue Lake Hike.

We stop at a viewpoint so that I can look where we are going ad  I watch as a drive by tourist, her body half hanging out of the huge 4 wheel drive monster truck, clicks pictures of the scenery streaking past her at 25 miles per hour.  I guess her husband who was driving was in a hurry.   Viewpoints for me are the appetizers before an entree, meant to wet the pallet and leave you wanting more..  I laugh to myself thinking I wouldn't trade my memories of our trip for hers for anything..... 
  (I was so dumbstruck that I didn't think to grab my camera for a pic before they zoomed off!)

Today's hike to Blue Lake will show case the North Cascade the Looky Lou's miss as they whiz by.

I originally wanted to hike the Maple Pass Loop (So many people described this as one of their lifetime favorite hikes), .however I was concerned my hip would not hold up for the 7+ mile steep hike.     So we decided on the Blue Lake hike near Washington Pass. I saved this hike for our last hike in the park and allowed ourselves as long as we needed to make the hike and promised myself a rest day if I needed it after the hike.

The Blue Lake trailhead is .8 miles West from Washington Pass on Highway 20. 

There is a day use fee of $5.00 to park in the parking area and hike from this point.  (If you fill out a form with your senior pass number you are exempted from this fee.)  The hike starts out on a boardwalk in a marshy area along side the highway but soon turns up the mountain in a steady climb to Blue Lake.

 Most of the hike is under a canopy of thick forest which makes for a cooling cover in the hot August sun.

 The hike is a steady2.2 mile climb from Highway 20 and gains 1050 feet in elevation.  The Lake sits at 6254 feet so it was a strenuous climb for us as we had been at sea level for over a month.

Slides are frequent along the trail, leaving rocks and trees strewn along the path.  Although the trail is mostly cleared the power of the slides is left behind on the mountainside.

Slides often provide a break in the forest so we are able to see the gorgeous scenery that lies beyond their stately forest presence.

About halfway through the hike is a high mountain meadow that has flowers blooming giving the impression of American Alps making a wonderful spot for a rest on a rock.

Unlike many mountain trails we have hiked, this trail has very little up and down.  It is steady switch backs of up and up and up until finally the sound of a creek at the outlet of the lake announces our arrival near the lake .

 A collapsed log cabin stands near the lake evidence of log ago.  No signs are available to tell of the history of the people who walked here long ago.


While Hailey wades in the icy alpine lake, I climb higher overlooking this mountain splendor.



With towering granite peaks, forests, meadows, wildflowers, and of course the beautiful mountain lake surrounded by granite that reaches toward the sky, this short hike has something to please everyone.

We stopped at the Washington Pass Scenic Overlook and viewed the back side of the mountains Blue Lake is nestled into.   It is hard to visualize all the splendor of the tiny mountain lake hidden behind towering mountains.

The steep mountain road returns us down the mountain to our cool creek side retreat. 
During the evening I suffered with altitude sickness.  

Rest was my friend.

It was a good day!


  1. What a beautiful hike. I'm so glad you aren't getting the snow that seems to be hitting northern Colorado and Montana. I love your campsite and had that same experience today of driving through mind boggling beauty and wishing I could snap millions of pictures.

  2. Wouldn't that have been great to read about the cabin and those who loved there.

  3. Hi Karen,

    I have to ask... are you using a different camera lately? It seems like the colors in the photos in your last few posts really pop right off the page! We need to start thinking about a new camera before we get out there ourselves next summer, and when I see colors like this, I have to find out what camera creates them!

    1. I've been wondering about this too Karen. We're looking at new cameras and there are so many that it's difficult to make a choice. Your photographs seem to have a bit more of everything lately.

  4. No, same camera. It is a Nikon Coolpix L820. IT HAS 30x zoom. If I was buying again I would get the 50 x for longer range. OVER TIME I have learned to take pictures at the hours in early morning and evening for best colors. I try not to use much in the way of enhancement but the Cascades gave me a wonderful setting. I LOVE MY CAMERA!

  5. Hi Karen,

    Thank you for the info, but I have one more question...I looked on Amazon, but didn't see anything about whether this model is capable of using any add-on lens accessories. Are there any threads on the inside circumference of the lens so that accessories can be added? We have several items left over from our old Chinon 35mm camera, including a 2X teleconverter, which (on this model) would give us a 60x zoom capability. We also have other filters and things that we would like to use on a new digital camera.

    The other thing we are looking for on a new camera, and may have to spend more money to get it, is a microphone input for video use. We have a nice remote microphone transmitter and receiver kit from our old video camera, and when people are more than 10 feet away, it really helps to be able to capture sound better.

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I forgot to check the box to be notified, and just remembered to look for a reply. Oops!