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.
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 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.
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.
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.