Fall Color at Heather-Maple Pass Loop
Oh man, I’ve been way too busy climbing and not blogging enough. Is it okay if I still talk about chasing fall color even though fall color is fading faster than fast? After oogling at glaciers and Mt. Baker the day before, I headed deeper into the North Cascades with my good friend (and Summer OR show) roommate, Jessica! I always make it a point to see her when in Seattle. She’s a great blogger friend who kind of just gets me, and I’ve hiked with her previously on the Mountain Loop Highway and at Ebey’s Landing. This time she brought along one of her puppies! Yep, she really did hike Heather-Maple Pass with her wiener.
We began at the Rainy Pass trailhead off of HW 20. Per Lee’s recommendation, we started the loop counter-clockwise, opting to take the slightly more gradual approach. We would return by Rainy Lake. The trail began with switchbacks before straightening out and ascending up, up, up above Lake Ann on the left until hitting the edge of North Cascades National Park. From this point, traverse across the ridgeline and take in all the larches and all the views and the alpine meadows.
The trail soon begins to descend steeply down with views of Rainy Lake before disappearing into a forest with soft dirt trails to soften the blows on your knees. At the end of the trail, we ended on a concrete walkway that took us leisurely back to our car. It was an insanely long drive for a less long hike, but well worth the views and fall colors. The WTA has awesome trail beta here.