Hiking the Heather Maple Pass Loop

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Hiking the Heather Maple Pass Loop

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This one-size-fits-all hike satisfies everything you’ll probably looking for in a Pacific Northwest hike. There are colorful wildflowers, golden larches in autumn, breathtaking alpine vistas that seem to stretch out forever, rugged landscape and exciting ridgelines and alpine lakes. Plus, as a loop hike, you’ll never see the same view twice.

 

Here’s what you need to know to hike the 7-mile Heather Maple Pass Loop. We’ll also suggest several other popular hikes along the famous Cascade Pass Loop in Washington State, including the Leavenworth area and Stevens Pass.

How Do You Get to the Heather Maple Pass Loop Trail?

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Take Highway 20 toward the town of Marblemount and North Cascades National Pass. You’ll reach the Rainy Pass trailhead at about 50 miles, on the south (right) side of the road.

 

What is the Heather Maple Pass Loop Trail Like?
From the parking lot, the trail heads in a counter-clockwise direction. You’ll climb steadily uphill until at 1.25 miles, a spur trail leads left to Lake Ann. It’s a flat 0.6-mile roundtrip detour that is well worth it for this jewel-like lake in a talus bowl.

 

On the main trail, you’ll hike above Lake Ann, through fields of wildflowers (in the summer) until you reach Heather Pass – about 0.75 mile past the Lake Ann detour. If you’d like to explore more, there are several social trails to the north that lead to Lewis and Wing lakes, Black Peak and more.

 

For this loop, you will follow the trail left along a ridgeline and continue up to Maple Pass. Once atop the ridge, you’re at the edge of North Cascades National Park. Views include Corteo, Frisco, Goode, Stiletto and Black Peak. Look a bit further into the distance and you can make out the Liberty Bell group.

 

The loop trail starts to switchback downward, but you’ll still have striking views. You’ll descend about 1,700 feet in the last 2.5 miles.

 

Note: If you would like to hike the Heather Maple Pass loop clockwise, you will start at the southern end of the parking lot and follow the paved trail that also leads to Rainy Lake. You will reach a fork at 0.5 mile. Take the right branch uphill. You’ll gain elevation through avalanche path and forest, switchbacking through wildflower-strewn meadows until you reach Maple Pass. Descend toward Lake Ann.

Other Hikes Nearby

 

Lake Ann

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This detour from the Heather Maple Pass Loop is a wonderful addition to your day. During the summer, the ridgelines around Lake Ann are covered in wildflowers; come fall, they’re crowned with golden larches.

 

From the parking lot on Highway 20, hike counter-clockwise through second-growth forest. When you reach the junction at 1.25 miles, head left to the lake. From here, it is 0.3 mile to the eastern shore. Sit on the driftwood at the lake’s edge for a picturesque picnic. From the lake, you can see hikers on the Heather Maple Pass Loop.

 

Driving the Cascade Loop & Favorite Hikes
Can’t get enough Pacific Northwest? Take an epic roadtrip on the Cascade Loop, which will take you past Puget Sound to Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Lake Chelan, the Methow and Skagit Valleys, the Stevens Pass Greenway and North Cascade National Park.

 

During the Highway 20 portion of the Cascade Loop drive, the hike options just keep coming. Here are some of the favorites:

 

Newhalem Area Hikes

 

River Loop Trail: A 1.8-mile loop that starts from the North Cascades Visitor Center and leads through lush forest and along the gravel bank of the river.

 

Thunder Creek Trail: Hike through ancient forests following a glacier-fed creek up to Park Creek Pass. Day hikers may want to just go to the first bridge, or continue up to Fourth of July Pass. If you keep going, you’ll start to come into the Stehekin Valley.

 

Diablo Lake Trail: A 7.6-mile roundtrip hike through the forest with peek-a-boo views of turquoise Diablo Lake.

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Easy Pass/Fisher Basin: Easily one of the most beautiful places in the North Cascades. The trail is short(ish) and steep – far from “easy.” However, the views are sublime, encompassing Fish Basin and Mounts Logan, Fisher and Arriva. Summer brings resplendent wildflowers, wild autumn turns the larches a gorgeous gold.

 

Thornton Lake: A good choice for a full-day hike or overnight backpacking trip. You’ll climb through mature hemlock forest and through meadows of heather and huckleberry. Once you reach the ridgeline, you can see Triumph Peak and lower Thornton Lake. The steep descent takes you to the lake’s edge and some campsites. Keep an eye out for deer, bear, marmot, birds, hawks and eagles.

 

Stevens Pass Area Hikes

These hikes are in the Stevens Pass area of the Cascade Loop drive.

 

Bridal Veil Falls
Hike to this 100-foot waterfall that flows out of Lake Serene (consider hiking farther to the lake itself). You’ll reach the waterfall at the 2-mile mark after ascending a rocky stretch and several stairways.

 

Other favorites in this region include Barclay Lake, Heybrook Lookout and Wallace Falls State Park.

 

Leavenworth Area Hikes

These hikes found outside Leavenworth, a charming, Bavarian-style village on the Cascade Loop.

 

Fourth of July Creek
Gain excellent views of the scenic Stuart Range along the 13-mile roundtrip Fourth of July Creek trail. It’s a long, dry and steady uphill climb, so comb prepared with plenty of water and sunscreen.

 

Colchuck Lake
This is one of the Leavenworth area’s most beautiful hikes. It’s a steady uphill climb, but your reward is one of the most gorgeous alpine lakes around. Before you reach the lake, you’ll have great views of Mount Stuart. Intrigued by the rocky pass you’ll see once you’re at the shimmering lake? That’s renowned Asgaard Pass and beyond it, the glorious Enchantments.

 

Icicle Gorge
This is a gentle loop trail along the Icicle River, great for all ability levels. You’ll cross a bridge over the roaring river at the mid-way point – enjoy the refreshing, cool spray.

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