Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stunning Hikes Near the North Cascades Basecamp

Even though summer is over there is still plenty of autumn sunshine and beautiful scenery to be explored in the mountains surrounding the Methow Valley.  The changing of seasons means bright fall colors are bursting all around, making for some awesome hikes.  We have had an absolutely amazing summer of hiking and trail running around the Basecamp and wanted to share some of the nearby routes that we have found and loved. 

Jacks Trail/River Run-
This is a trail that we frequently run because it has stunning views of the mountains around Mazama.  This time of year, it is accessible right from the Basecamp's front door since the Methow River has slowed down and lowered so it can be crossed without getting your feet wet.  There are about 10 miles of trail that remains relatively flat along the valley floor that opens up to a grassy meadow at one end giving great views of Goat Wall, Driveway Butte, Sandy Butte

 Monument Creek-
 A nice hike that's a five mile drive from the Basecamp.  The trail gradually follows Lost River upstream to the Eureka Creek crossing (3 miles), and continues for up to 20 miles.  It is a great out and back hike for any distance.  Beautiful riparian habitat and mountain views.

Pipestone Canyon-
A short distance outside Winthrop with beautiful rock formations and a conifer forest in the base of the canyon.  It opens up to a grassy valley and there is also a loop that takes you along one rim of the canyon.  This area burned in the summer wildfires; conditions have certainly changed!

Big Valley-
Halfway between Mazama and Winthrop this trail is on flat terrain and offers amazing views of the mountains surrounding the valley floor.  Walking/running the entire figure eight course results in about a 5 mile outing.

Rubber Boa near the trail on Big Valley, easily identifiable because of its blunted tail.

Robinson Creek-
Another beautiful creek trail that extends from Mazama all the way up to Harts Pass.  This makes a great out and back hike of any distance.  You will be traveling near the creek through interesting riparian areas of deciduous and cedar trees while revealing the stunning mountains of the Pasayten Wilderness.

Dagger Lake/Twisp Pass-
The hike begins at the end of Twisp River Road and is a gradual incline for about 4 miles up to the top of Twisp Pass.  Dagger Lake is just over Twisp Pass another mile along the PCT.

Blue Lake-
This is a classic hike along the Highway 20 corridor.  It is a gradual climb up to a beautiful mountain lake that is surrounded by dramatic rocky mountain peaks.  A four mile round trip distance makes this hike accessible for many visitors.  Keep an eye out for mountain goats as they are often seen around the lake!

Cutthroat Pass/Snowy Lakes-
Cutthroat pass is a ten mile out and back round trip hike that boasts beautiful views of the peaks along the North Cascades Scenic Highway.  Cutthroat Pass can be reached from the Rainy Pass trail head as well as the Cutthroat Lake trail head.  If you continue along the PCT from the top of Cutthroat Pass you will reach Snowy Lakes in about five miles.  Snowy Lakes is a popular backpacking destination that has two pristine lakes surrounded by mountain peaks.

 Cutthroat Lake-
 This is a short four mile round trip hike that is relatively flat.  It reaches a beautiful alpine lake and surrounded by ridge lines and peaks.  The trail splits off and goes up to Cutthroat pass as well.

Cedar Creek-
This is the closest hike to Mazama on Highway 20 and is a beautiful short four mile round trip up to a series of waterfalls.  You are surrounded by wonderful cedar forests and cool leafy vegetation.

Maple Pass/Lake Ann-
Maple Pass loop is often said to be one of the best hikes in the area.  The trail brings you along a ridge line surrounding Lake Ann.  All along the ridge there are amazing vantage points for all the surrounding mountains.  The deciduous trees in the area will make this a stunning and colorful autumn hike.

Goat Peak-
Goat Peak is a trail in Mazama that takes you to the top of a peak over 7000' tall.  Luckily you are able to drive to about 5000' up so the hike is only about a four mile round trip.  At the top you will find the fire lookout tower that has been manned by a cheerful character named "Lightning" Bill for 20 years, if you get the chance to meet him will we gladly share his poetry and artwork with you.  This hike gives you a great view of the valley and the area around Mazama.

Windy Pass/Holmans Pass-
 These trails are accessible from the top of Harts Pass and follow the PCT towards Canada.  We encountered some late summer snow on the hike which made for some wet hiking but made the scenery even more beautiful.  This trail takes you into the Pasayten Wilderness which is pristine and some of the most gorgeous terrain we encountered this summer.

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