Maple Loop was our favorite trail in North Cascades, Washington and I would definitely recommend that you explore it for yourself. It was a magical day, which included spotting some wildlife and stunning views.
This park offers lots to do and an opportunity to escape the crowds. You can certainly see plenty of the area with a driving tour but immersing yourself in the wilderness is all together a much different experience. We prefer to head out early morning with a day pack full of water, snacks, and lunch. We also have a water filter, emergency kit, bear spray, as well as essential gear like a rain jacket, additional layers and a camera.
Maple Pass Trail
From Winthrop drive State Route 20 west about 35 miles to the Rainy Pass rest area. The trail begins .25 miles east of the parking lot. This moderately traveled trail is 6.7 miles round trip and has a 2,276-foot elevation gain. The season for this challenging trail is Mid-July through September, depending on the weather. We had a mix of sun, clouds and a bit of rain during this two-week trip in September.
You’ll start the trail in a pine forest, but soon enough you’ll pass through a large avalanche meadow and come to Heather Pass. From this point you’ll be above the tree line in Washington’s high alpine zone.
Wildlife and Vistas
There were marmots and pikas among the rocky parts of this trail. The pikas were foraging relentlessly, while the marmots soaked in the sun. We were walking along a rolling ridgeline, when we spotted a hawk circling above. We stopped a moment, while it moved lower, then swooshed past us along the trail.
Flowers and Huckleberries
As you can see from the photos, the views are simply gorgeous, plus we enjoyed munching on huckleberries and checking out the wildflowers during this adventure. We love being in the wilderness. It’s rugged terrain, jaw dropping vistas, and the various creatures we encounter along the way.
This is a outstanding trail, which is well worth the extra effort required to complete this adventure. If you’re in the area, you should also consider exploring the following trails, lakes and gardens:
- Sauk MT Trail – 2.8 miles and 1,197 elevation gain
- Dock Butte Trail – 7.2 miles and 2,000 elevation gain
- Hidden Lake Lookout – 8 miles and 3,330 elevation gain
- Middle Wallace Falls – Easy
- Diablo Lake
- Ohme Gardens
We got rentals in Marblemount, Winthrop, and finally Seattle. We stayed on the Cascade River in Marblemount and were thrilled to watch a black bear wandering the bank across the river from us. We also rented a gorgeous Mountain Modern two bedroom and two bath in Winthrop that is perfectly located for skiing or hiking. It has a fantastic design and enjoys breathtaking mountain views. It also has a Accessory Dwelling Unit, which our niece Ciarra stayed in with her boyfriend, Robert. We loved it so much, it has become the inspiration for our future NW Montana home. You can check out the Premier Rental below:
Jim and I are heading to NW Montana this July. Our plan is to explore the trails, catch a boat over to Wild Horse Island, and experience a traditional Blackfeet meal with a local host on the banks of Duck Lake. Subscribe below to ensure you never miss an adventure!