Discovering The North Cascades

Saving, planning, preparing, getting all of our ducks in a row – we’ve had limited time to go out, disconnect and relax. So, when we both had a few days off, we headed to the North Cascades National Park and Mt. Baker National Forest. We’ve visited many national parks in the past, but this would be our first trip to the area and it would be our 50-day mark until we leave on our big trip!

The area is absurdly beautiful. Upon arrival, we stopped in to the Ranger Station for hiking advice and information. We decided to day-hike Helitrope Ridge to see the Coleman glacier cascading off Mt. Baker up close and personal and to have a little lunch. The three-mile hike is moderate in difficulty and includes three river crossings, multiple waterfall and river lookouts and is perfect view point for unobstructed views of Mt. Baker.

DSC00853  The trail ends on the edge of the Coleman glacier – a perfect spot for a quick lunch and photo opportunity.

DSC00865 The next place to explore was the Mt. Baker ski area – We highly recommend visiting during the Summer. It’s one of the most beautiful locations we’ve ever seen. Another reason why this place is so awesome? You can drive all the way to the top! Views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuskan can be seen along with other high points of the North Cascades.

This is the starting point for hiking to Lake Ann, Chain Lakes and Ptarmigan Ridge.

DSC00897We hiked the one mile on Ptarmigan Ridge to the point where un-permitted camping is allowed. It’s simple: Find a flat spot – set up camp.

We were very lucky to find the camp site that we did. Close to the trail-head, flat and boasting views of both Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuskan at the same time. We watched the sun set drinking wine and cooking dinner, calling it a night shortly thereafter as the mosquitoes decided to join us for our sunset viewing.

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As the sun rose on our last day, we wanted to hike Table Mountain – a quick but difficult one-mile hike up, directly up to the summit. As the Ranger mentioned to us upon beginning the hike, “you get a lot of bang for your buck”.

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The area is significantly less crowded that other national parks within driving distance to Seattle and offers better views, camping opportunities and short hikes. We highly recommend this as a perfect weekend trip to disconnect and explore the great outdoors.

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