Ten days visiting North Cascades National Park! The drive in was great. From Denver, we made quick stops at Bozeman, MT and Newport, WA, both of which were enjoyable. The drive into the park was stunning, it was one of the only days clear enough to see all the high views, which was great for us!
We wound our way through high peaks covered in snow and ice and passed a many beautiful lakes along the way. The park is aptly named because around almost every corner, there are Cascades making their way quickly into lakes and rivers. There are quite a few glaciers in the park, we hope to hike to them next time.
We camped at Alpine RV Park, in Marblemount, WA. I was a bit worried after reading some of the reviews, but thankfully, they were unfounded. It is an older RV park, in slight disrepair, but quite nice otherwise. Also, it was affordable ! $25 a night with full hookups! Sweet!
There was an unused dog walking path I braved and enjoyed. I was quickly reminded of what stinging nettle looks and feels like. I also managed to make new friends, see slug.
A good amount of days were rainy, but it was fun. We couldn’t do a lot of hiking, most trails were too long or snowed in. We made us of our extra time by home improvements (new hooks in our bedroom), playing in the rain, and making new doggie friends.
People came and went, the girls got to play with a few of the kids passing through, and some of our fellow campers had great taste in camp ornaments! Overall, it was a pretty sweet campground.
We managed four rewarding hikes during our time here. Our first day there, we only had a half day to explore. So we decided on the River Loop, right by the visitor center. It takes you through dense forest, complete with giant ferns, leaves bigger than your head, and a cannibalistic ecosystem that is impressive to witness. There is literally nothing off trail that doesn’t have something living off it. Plants eating plants. The felled logs are perfect for new growth, giving the name ‘nursery logs.’
The path eventually gets you to the Skagit River. The water was a beautiful cloudy blue-green and was overflowing its banks. We kept the girls far away, but close enough to hurl rocks and sticks into the current.
On our first full hiking day, we tackled Pyramid Lake. The hike is a little over 4 miles and gains 1,500 feet to the lake. Ouch, that was a leg worker. The hike was filled with growth, mushrooms, and moss.
The hike finishes at Pyramid Lake, named for its triangular shape. The logs floating in the lake have, of course, sprouted growth. The floating gardens were a real treat.
After the uphill hike of Pyramid Lake, we decided to take it easy and hike along Thunder Creek. It wasn’t the most View filled hike, but it did have some good spots to see the river and a great amount of things to see along the way. Including slugs!
On the other side of the road from Thunder Creek is Thunder Knob. This 4 mile round trip Trail has a decent climb, but nothing like Pyramid Lake. It’s one of short moderate hikes, with great views, so it’s pretty popular. I’m happy we waited until mid-week to tackle this one!
We came to the realization that our four mile hikes were not challenging the girls much. So we decided to up the mileage. The East Bank Trail was a great place to get the girls used to distance. It starts off with some signs detailing prospectors in the area, and even has some features and remnants of the time.
It was flat overall, with some rolling terrain alongside Lightning Creek. As was the usual, we found some great flowers and beautiful mushrooms. We also got to do some river crossings at some very pretty Cascades!
A little less than 3 miles in, there is a junction in the trail. A short side trail gives you access to a few designated camp spots and a sweet spot for lunch. Some fellow hikers went all the way down to Ross Lake, but we contented ourselves with an overlook.
After all that hiking, we thought the girls deserved some ice cream and playground time. We had kept passing New Halem which is a neat power town just inside the park. There’s a nice playground, a convenience store (which provided the ice cream), and a sweet train that kids (and adults) could climb all over.
As with all parks, the visitor center was worth a couple of trips. The first day we picked up our JR Ranger packets and spent some time in the museum. The girls were mostly interested in the giant slug and the children’s corner. I enjoyed learning about the logging history (well as much as I could with screaming kids riding a banana slug..) and the magnified models of the local wildlife!
The second trip was to hand in the girls work and take the JR Ranger oath. The Ranger who helped the girls was wonderful and engaging. She even gave the kids fantastic hats for the occasion.
This was a beautiful park, and we look forward to returning. I think we should wait until later in the season so some of the high country can open up. Bear and I agreed, we plan to take advantage of the backpacking trails! On to Oregon!