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Recommended experiences in and around North Cascades National Park
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All reviews counter clockwise take your time rainy lake out of the way great hike parking lot well worth the effort wild flowers north cascades hiking poles bug spray incredible views miles round trip descent counterclockwise heather loop
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Reviewed September 5, 2019

We got to the trailhead about 9:30 am. This was on the Sunday before Labor Day. Parking was filling up and people were parking along the road after you pull in. There are pit toilets at the beginning in the main parking area.
As the name says, it’s a loop and you can choose which end to start. Clockwise starts out steep and the trail is rocky and rooty but gets the hard part out of the way while you are fresh. Counterclockwise has a more gradual ascent. Either way, you gain about 2000 feet and the hike is about 7.2 miles round trip. Before we left, we read that views are arguably better counterclockwise. I think a case could be made either way. We opted for the counterclockwise direction. It’s still a hike that gains about 1700 feet so it’s not easy but experienced hikers will have no problem and less experienced/fit hikers will find it strenuous but if you take your time, it’s doable and worth it.
There is some tree jail at the beginning for maybe the first 45 minutes into the hike (sorry I didn’t note mileage as I walked and so I’m going by the time my iPhone pictures were taken). Then you come out of the trees and start seeing views of a lake. You start getting vistas with a good rest spot about 60-90 minutes into the hike (depending on how fast you are). After that, it’s oos and ahhs the rest of the way. Note that once out of tree jail, there will be sun exposure for most of the rest of the hike until the end. I’d say for the whole hike, about a 3rd is tree jail and 2/3 views/grand vistas.
We stopped at the beginning of the ridge to have our lunch. There are plenty of spots to sit and enjoy the 360 views. Then we continued along the ridge for the final push to the top with commanding views over the Cascades and above the lake that you pass on the way up. It’s truly breathtaking. We walked out onto the rocky outcrop for some photos. If you are scared of heights, you won’t want to walk onto the outcrop but you don’t have to. I’m not real scared of heights but didn’t note any areas of real exposure/walking close to steep drop offs on the trail.
Then we began our descent down. There are views for about another 30-45 minutes before you enter tree jail again.
We spent about 5 ½ hours for the whole hike including stops. We aren’t fast hikers either so it can be done faster. There were still some late blooming wildflowers and some signs of Fall color in the plants so a few weeks earlier should see some real wildflower coverage. As far as wildlife, we did some chipmunks. Please don’t feed them.
When we got back to our car, we could see that cars were parked up and down the main highway to do this hike, some people were just starting out at 3 pm.
We didn’t experience any problems with bugs/mosquitos and didn’t use bug spray.
Several people had their dogs with them on this hike it must technically not be in the national park.
Also, we did not have to pay a fee to enter this park.
A great hike that is well worth the effort!

Date of experience: September 2019
Thank Martyk74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 6, 2019 via mobile

Beautiful from ground to peak! 360° of Magnificent! Wild flowers throughout! Creation testifies!!! Achievable even for low level/easy hikers (start early and take your time). Mosquitoes' natural habitat, cover all exposed skin. Counter clockwise was a good choice. Hiking poles are helpful for descent. Heather-Maple Pass Loop - Best hike!!!

Date of experience: July 2019
Thank Grateful_Sojourner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2019 via mobile

The views from Maple pass trail are amazing. It’s hard to believe the expanse of the cascades. Lakes, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, wildlife. It’s all there.

Date of experience: August 2019
Thank pkatzpumper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 21, 2018 via mobile

Gorgeous hike! I couldn’t believe the colors on the mountainside. Note: if you are fortunate enough to have a beautiful sunny day, it will be a warm hike as 3/4 is in the open (avoid carrying all your layers like we did). If you have time to do only one hike and can manage a bit more strenuous, I preferred Cascade Pass because you are much closer to the mountain ridge (and you’ll likely see bear and marmots there where I only saw pikas on this one). Great views of Rainy Lake and in hindsight, I wouldn’t have continued the portion to the lake because we were pretty exhausted and had another log hike the next day.

Date of experience: September 2018
5  Thank Nettie2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 3, 2018

There simply are not enough words to describe the views along this hike. It truly is a visual feast the entire trek up to the pass however, with those views come with many other hikers who want to experience this beauty. With that being said, get there early! The parking lot will fill and it will fill early causing you to park on the street. Like many others have said, take this trail clockwise as you get most of the rough uphill climb out of the way. Also taking this way provides some incredible views because if you get to the pass and take the other portion down the views are wonderful but not as good as on the way up. The trail is mostly dirt and at this time of year there is no snow to be found. Once you get to the pass you will be completely surrounded by mountains and if you look down you can see Rainy Lake below. The area can get busy but make sure to take your time, sit back, have a snack and enjoy natures splendor that completely surrounds you.

Date of experience: September 2018
4  Thank EpicGuy12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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