• Aaron

#80 Maple Pass Loop

Updated: Sep 10, 2018

The Maple Pass Loop is one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. It passed through old-growth forests, alpine lakes, beautiful meadows, and followed a mountain ridge that let us see for miles. There's nothing quite like making it to the top of a mountain to make you feel really, really small and really, really alive.

This is not actually Middle Earth. It's regular Earth.

Distance: 7.2 mile loop | GPS: N 48 30.912, W 120 44.148

Elevation Gain: 2000 ft | Peak: 6900 ft

North Cascades | My Trip Report | My Hiking Master Post

Since the trail is a loop you can tackle it clockwise or counter-clockwise. We chose to go clockwise, starting at Rainy Lake. This meant we got the steeper part out of the way first. It also kicked out butts. Rather than a gradual slope, we found ourselves climbing steep switch-backs. There were some beautiful views of the lake, though.

It was all worth it by the time we got to the top. The views were spectacular. Honestly, I couldn't believe how high we were. There were little "meeps" coming from marmots all over the place. They were scattered all throughout the rocks along the cliff face.

The North Cascades is famous for wild flowers and we thought we had missed the season. There were still some left, dotting the landscape. Most of the heather had faded to a dark red, the colors gearing up for fall.

We also made some bird friends in addition to our marmot friends. This guy was not afraid of people. It kinda seemed confused about what we were. It was also nice that we'd chosen the more gradual slope for the going down bit because, by then, we were pretty much zombies.

Overall, the hike was awesome and 10/10 would-do-again. The hike looks pretty cool from the satellite view and is deceptively easy-looking from the topographical map. It was actually pretty tough! Oh and one thing we noticed was that, as we drove there - the "Rainy Lake Trail-head" is not the right place to park; the correct trail-head is across the street at the "Rainy Lake Picnic Area."

Directions: From Burlington, follow North Cascades Scenic Highway (State Route 20) east to Marblemount, then continue east on SR 20 for 51 miles to Rainy Pass near milepost 158. Turn right on to Rainy Pass Picnic Area for the trail-head.

100 Classic Hikes - Washington by Craig Romano

Anyway, here's a gallery of pictures from our adventure. If you do this hike, let me know if you decide to do it clockwise or counter clockwise. I'm hoping to do all of the hikes in 100 Classic Hikes - Washington by Craig Romano (this is #80). But, I'd love recommendations for other cool places!

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