Over the years we’ve been on several hikes where I say this was the best hike I’ve ever done. That very thing happened again on Saturday when Suzanne told me she was thinking of driving 38 miles to do the Maple Pass trail, a 7 mile loop with 2,100 feet of elevation gain. She didn’t actually invite me to come along, and I know she enjoys hiking alone, but I went back and googled Maple Pass Loop. The trail description had me from the first sentence: “The Maple Pass Loop is one of the jewels of the North Cascades.”
How could I pass this up? Jim gave me the go-ahead, so I hurried back to Suzanne’s and asked in a pleading voice if she would mind some company. So we packed a lunch, filled our water bladders, and hit the road.
The drive alone is worth taking, passing by emerald lakes, roadside waterfalls, and climbing from 500’ to nearly 5,000’ by the time we reached the trailhead.
We started with a gradual climb through the forest, then what seemed like a short time later began to see wildflowers and mountain views that nearly took our breath away. Well, that may have been more due to the elevation, having been near sea level for months, but we kept stopping for photos and I knew it was going to take us awhile to complete the entire seven miles.
A fellow hiker stopped and asked if this was our first time on the trail, to which we responded yes. He told us it would get even better as we continued on up, but we couldn’t help stopping to take more photos every few steps. At the turn off for Lake Ann, we continued up the main trail, opting to see it from on high.
In fact we followed the entire ridge around the lake, eventually looking down at it from 1,000 feet above.
Suzanne taking a rest break.
And taking more pictures with her new camera.
It was a tough hike up to Maple Pass, but then beyond that was an even steeper climb for another 3/4 mile. We were both seeing stars at times, probably not a good thing, but we made it to the payoff.
The trail is much steeper than it looks, trust me.
Made it to snow level.
Another alpine lake.
Suzanne at the edge of the world. It really did feel that way.
It was all downhill from there. We were glad we did the trail counterclockwise as it would have been even harder coming up this way.
The final mile and a half descent through the forest had us imagining bigfoot, bears, owls, and getting scared half to death by a chipmunk, as it was starting to get a little dark in those woods. Best hike I’ve ever done, for sure! So glad Suzanne was there to share it with me.