Save this rollicking Cascades out-and-back for July, when wildflower season creates a fireworks-like display along the lush Johnson Ridge. Begin your floral exploration by hiking on an old, lupine-lined roadbed at the end of Forest Road 6250. Cross through a thick old-growth forest before making the climb to the top of Sunrise Mountain—a summit carpeted with abundant huckleberry meadows and dotted with alpine firs and small mountain hemlock. Savor the prime panoramas of the Monte Cristo Range and Glacier Peak before making a precipitous descent toward a ridgeline saddle.
After another steep ascent, sweep through more lush meadows en route to another wildflower bonanza just 0.5 mile ahead. Take in the awe-inspiring flower display before bearing left at the Y-junction to make the final push toward Scorpion. From the summit, absorb still more bountiful wildflower fields—flush with lupines, tiger lilies, paintbrush and aster—while savoring high-peak panoramas. If you’ve still got life in your legs, make the 500-foot descent from the meadow’s edge toward Joan Lake. Otherwise, retreat to the trailhead by retracing your route.
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography