Maple & Heather Pass Loop

August 8, 2020

This is one of the premier hikes in the North Cascades due to beautiful scenery all along the trail and the astounding views at the top. A bonus is that you cross into North Cascades National Park. Few people do this as you have to hike miles to reach the park boundary or take Cascade River Road into the park. The National Park is 99.9% wilderness so Cascade River Road is the ONLY road that goes into the park itself. Most visitors stay on Highway 20 which is in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and thus never enter the National Park.

Lake Ann in Glacial Valley

This was definitely one of Holly’s favorite hikes this season. This trail was incredibly crowded and Holly hikes uphill very slowly so John found it a bit frustrating. We were constantly stepping off trail and putting on our masks to let people pass (Covid).

We should have hit the trail earlier and skipped the spur trail to the edge of Lake Ann. It added two miles to the hike and took a bit of time. Besides, the view of Lake Ann is much better from the trail! We would have been ahead of most of the day hikers had we skipped that and there are awesome views of Lake Ann from above. Hikers seem to start streaming onto the trail around 9:30 or 10:00. We quickly learned to start hiking EARLIER.

Most people hike this trail counter clockwise so that the steep section is down at the end. We were undecided on that. Holly has torn out the ACL(s) in her knee(s) and the angled trail and steep steps down made it extremely difficult and slow. When we hike it again, we’ll go clockwise and see how it goes. Holly also swears she’ll carry her knee braces but we’ll see if she remembers that. Trekking poles help A LOT! We have friends that call them “Magic Sticks” – we agree. The difference in muscle strain and ligament twisting between hiking with no stick and hiking with poles is huge! Holly would not have been able to do this hike (or many of the others) without her trekking poles. If you are headed to mountain trails with new trekking poles, practice with them on moderate trails first so you aren’t tripping yourself on those steep, narrow, mountain paths.

In the Beginning…

Nearing the Hump…

The Road Home

Holly REALLY wanted to go back when the passes were in full fall colors with the blueberries turning red and the larches turning gold but we didn’t make it. Still, the colors and views we had were awesome! We had no complaints.

One of Many Heather Meadows

Flowers, Flowers…

And More Flowers!

A few more pictures say more than we could with words.

Lake Ann

North Cascades

To answer the question… Yes, that is snow in August. Snow on the peaks, snow along the trail and snow at the edge of Lake Ann. By the end of September, it was snowing up there again.

H & J

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