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Backpacker Magazine – June 2011

National Parks: North Cascades

Come for the sheer, glaciated peaks, but be mesmerized by rain-fed waterfalls that pour down on all sides.

by: Kim Phillips

Copper Ridge Trail in North Cascades (Kim Phillips)
Copper Ridge Trail in North Cascades (Kim Phillips)
Copper Ridge Trail in North Cascades (Kim Phillips)
Copper Ridge Trail in North Cascades (Kim Phillips)
The Nooksack Ridge (Kim Phillips)
The Nooksack Ridge (Kim Phillips)
Copper Mountain Lookout (Kim Phillips)
Copper Mountain Lookout (Kim Phillips)
A maple leaf on Big Beaver Trail (Kim Phillips)
A maple leaf on Big Beaver Trail (Kim Phillips)



ASK A RANGER

Q: I only have a weekend. Where should I go?

The North Cascades’ rough and remote reputation keeps even the hint of crowds away, making it a cinch to score big-ticket solitude and scenery even on a short schedule. Here’s your plan, says Wilderness Ranger Rosemary Seifried. Beeline to the easier-access South Unit for this 25-mile highlight reel that weaves past electric wildflower displays in July, climbs to an airy, 6,525-foot alpine pass, and tracks through giant western hemlock and Douglas fir. Drop a car at the Thunder Creek trailhead before starting at the Easy Pass trailhead (20 minutes southeast of Ross Dam). The trail zigzags along its namesake creek, then scales the eastern flanks of Ragged Ridge, gaining nearly 3,000 feet of elevation to the misleadingly named Easy Pass. At the top, pause for front-row views of Mt. Logan’s glaciated slopes framed by stands of subalpine larch (golden in fall). Next, descend roughly 30 switchbacks into Fisher Creek Basin—home to black bears and the occasional moose. Just past Fisher Camp, the route dips back into forest on the 11.3-mile stretch to Junction Camp. The next day, descend 10.2 miles north through Thunder Creek Valley to your shuttle car. Trip ID 1042135




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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Mike
Jan 02, 2014

Normally I don't recommend a backpacking route that I love, but I've been on the one in this article and agree 100% that you'd better love cold rain, sleet, snow stream crossings, and isolation. Those things alone will keep most away. A side trip on this route is to go up and over to Tapto Lakes from Whatcom Pass. The huckleberries are rampant and delicious there and few people bother to go to this lakes basin. If it clears off the glacier views are perfect and you will likely here chunks calving off hanging glaciers.

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