North America Travel

Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Maple Pass, North Cascades

Location: North Cascades, Washington State

There are four things we commit to doing weekly during our summers in the Pacific Northwest; family, friends, golf and hike. We structure each week with a hike on Friday – rain or shine – and visit some of our old favorites and always make time for something new. A couple of weeks ago we took the beautiful drive north and east to discover something new; Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Maple Pass, North Cascades.

Maple Pass

It takes about four hours to drive to the trail head from our house on the Kitsap Peninsula. But it’s much closer for people in King County and the Seattle area. We decided to make it an overnight get-away and headed up the day before. We stopped in the darling historic town of Snohomish and had a fantastic lunch at Heidi’s Sandwich Board. Then we moseyed on to Burlington where we spent the night. Bright and early the next morning we drove the additional two hours east to the Lake Ann/ Heather Pass/ Maple Pass trail head in North Cascades National Park.

Snow Lake in the distance

Bird Watching

We had read about this being a good place to bird watch, and we really enjoy viewing beautiful birds of the Pacific Northwest. We did see five birds that were new to us, but it didn’t end up being about bird watching for us in the way I thought it would. Here are the birds we saw;

All of the bird images above are from our bird identifier app called Merlin. It’s a perfect app for amateur bird watchers and I highly recommend it. And guess what? It’s free!

The Views Heather Pass/Maple Pass

The highlight of this hike, if you do the full loop of Heather Pass/Maple Pass, are the unforgettable 360 degree views on a clear day. The hike begins in a beautiful forested area, quickly rising up to Alpine scrub and meadows above the tree line. It’s here where you begin to appreciate the North Cascades for its remoteness and fewer visitors. Turquoise blue alpine lakes, bright mountain wildflowers, distant views of Mount Baker and the craggy rocks jutting into the sky. Our hike loop was seven miles with about 2000 foot elevation gain, with the high point near 7000 feet in elevation (the trail had just become snow-free in early July). But don’t fear! There are shorter hikes here with much less elevation gain.

Lake Ann
Mount Baker

Lake Ann

An easy and beautiful walk to Lake Ann is about 3 miles round trip with minimal elevation. Meander through the woods and end up lakeside at the glacial blue lake. Definitely doable for most people.

We highly recommend no matter which trail, water, sunscreen, hat and BUG SPRAY.

Lake Ann from Heather Pass


We arrived on a weekday at about 9:30am and the parking lot was almost full on a beautiful July day. But additional parking is available on Hwy 20 and across the street. This area is also an access point for the Pacific Crest Trail...which runs from Mexico to Canada (the movie “Wild” takes place on this trail).

National Parks

The Pacific Northwest is home to three of this nation’s 424 National Parks. How lucky are we to have these amazing places in our backyard. Olympic National Park is the most visited, Mount Rainier second, and North Cascades places third. I highly recommend a visit to the Maple Pass area of North Cascades National Park. It’s worth the effort.

At the Peak Maple Pass
We encountered only two small snow patches

Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Maple Pass North Cascades

Thanks for reading my post Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Maple Pass, North Cascades. I encourage you to get out and enjoy all the gems of the Washington and the Pacific Northwest. See last week’s post Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Point Defiance Rose Garden. And be sure to check back next week for another hidden gem.

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