Skagit County

Skagit County, Washington

161 – Dock Butte and Blue Lake

Dock Butte has been on our list of hikes to get around to doing for quite some time so when we learned that the snow was lingering there, we grabbed our snowshoes hoping for a chance to use them. We also brought our ice trekkers, because the temperatures had dropped since that first snowfall and since snowshoes do better in fresh powder than on ice, there was a good possibility that the snow on Dock Butte would be crusted over and the ice trekkers would give us safer footing on some of the snow-covered side slopes. Either way, we were prepared. Here we are, at the trailhead for Blue Lake.

Blue Lake Trailhead

Blue Lake Trailhead

After less than a mile along the Blue Lake trail, we took a side trail that would take us to Dock Butte. Sometimes almost completely covered with stray roots, the trail to Dock Butte is a less traveled trail and not as well maintained as the more popular trails. It is a well enough worn track though and we managed to find our way without too much difficulty.

A trail of roots

A trail of roots

If you are looking for more hikes in the Baker Lake area, I highly recommend putting this trail on your gotta-get-to list. Just look at the wonderful view of Mount Baker from along the way.

Mount Baker

Mount Baker

It wasn’t too long before we hit snow. It was frozen solid and at times even a bit difficult to push in the trekking pole into, so it didn’t look like we would get the opportunity to use our snowshoes on this hike after all.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on the trail

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on the trail

I was very glad that we had brought our ice trekkers though. The snow along this long sideslope was frozen solid and in places, the footpath through the snow might not have been wide enough for snowshoes. I stepped carefully and with the help of my poles, and the occasional hand from Kent, felt safe and secure during this crossing.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on sideslope

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on sideslope

Many of the tarns we passed were partially frozen. I like how Kent Doughty caught my reflection in this one.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose by reflective tarn

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose by reflective tarn

One of our favorite lunches when out hiking just happens to be leftover pizza. Having made a pizza covered in black bean, chicken breast, mushrooms, olives and cheese the evening before, these leftovers seemed even tastier than usual as we sat below Dock Butte to eat. Once the site of a fire lookout, we savored every tasty bite as we replenished the calories we had exhausted during our climb to get such a magnificant view. With so many of our favorite local peaks visible, it was such a lovely spot for lunch!

Pizza picnic time . . .

Pizza picnic time . . .

After our picnic, we hiked back down to re-join the trail to Blue Lake so we could check out the lake too.

The trail to Blue Lake

The trail to Blue Lake

A very deep lake and said to have some good trout fishing, guess we’d better bring our backpacker fishing poles next time. 🙂

Blue Lake . . . reflections

Blue Lake . . . reflections

Driving directions with road and trail conditions and more information about the trail to Dock Butte and Blue Lake can be found on the Mount. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website. Go here – http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbs/recarea/?recid=17610 – for that, and for recent trip reports on the Washington Trails Association website, go here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/dock-butte. The Dock Butte trail is rated as “more difficult”, most likely due to its lack of regular maintenance than length (only about 4 miles round trip) and elevation gain/loss (only 1,400′).

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

142 – Backpacking Ross Lake – Green Point

Who gets a surprise birthday party on a weekend backpacking trip anyway? Me, that’s who!

Birthday celebrations at camp

Birthday celebrations at camp

This was an absolutely awesome backpacking trip to! We hiked in from Highway 20 and crossed Ross Dam. The view of the spillways are quite impressive from the top of the dam!

Crossing Ross Dam

Crossing Ross Dam

From the dam, we followed the Big Beaver Trail on past the turn off for the floating Ross Lake Resort. Wouldn’t that be a great place to stay sometime?

Floating Ross Lake Resort

Floating Ross Lake Resort

We turned off the Big Beaver Trail, then headed on down to the shore and set up camp in the Green Point area. Lovely and quiet, how nice it was to be the only ones there.

Green Point on Ross Lake

Green Point on Ross Lake

More information about the Ross Dam Trail, Big Beaver Trail and the Green Point Trail is available on the website for the North Cascades National Parks, here – http://www.nps.gov/rola/index.htm; and information about campsites available in the North Cascades National Recreation area can be found here – http://www.north.cascades.national-park.com/camping.htm.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

136 – Thunder Creek Trail

We accessed to the trailhead for Thunder Creek Trail from the parking lot of the Colonial Creek Campground along Highway 20 about 24 miles east of the town of Marblemount. Unable to drive all the way into the campground and to the trailhead until the Memorial Day weekend, we parked in a lot just outside of the main camping area and walked maybe a half mile or so through the campgrounds until we reached the trail.

At the Thunder Creek Trailhead

At the Thunder Creek Trailhead

Once on the trail, the sound of Thunder Creek lived up to its name as we passed through the wild and scenic forest.

In an old-growth tree

In an old-growth tree

There were lots of different wildflowers to enjoy along the way.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

More Wildflowers

It’s an easy, well maintained trail with sturdy bridges over all stream crossings with barely more than 650 foot elevation gain over the entire twelve miles roundtrip hike. For more information on this trail and current trip reports, visit the Washington Trails Association website at http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/thunder-creek-1?b_start:int=0.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

135 – Guemes Mountain Trail

What an awesome hike this was! What hike starts with a ferry ride and takes you all the way to the highest point on one of the San Juan Islands? The Guemes Mountain Trail! Go here – http://www.skagitcounty.net/common/asp/?d=publicworksferry&c=general&p=ferry.htm – for information on the Guemes Island Ferry. Here, Dena and I enjoy the sunshine on the deck of the ferry as we travel from the town of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island to Guemes Island.

Dena and I . . . on the Guemes Island ferry

Dena and I . . . on the Guemes Island ferry

It’s only a short drive from the ferry landing once on Guemes Island to the Guemes Mountain Trail. If you prefer, park your car in downtown Anacortes and go as a walk-on passenger on the ferry. Bring your bicycle and ride to the trailhead. Or, if you don’t have a bike, the Anderson’s General Store might have a bicycle available for you to borrow. Go here – http://www.guemesislandstore.com/ – for information about the store and their contact information.

Guemes Mountain trailhead

Guemes Mountain trailhead

Four vehicle parking spaces are available at the trailhead, and a bike rack that will probably accommodate six or more bikes on a busy day. Early Spring and not a busy time of year for the island, we had the entire trail to ourselves; but I suspect it might be quite a popular hiking destination during the summer vacation season.

Along the trail

Along the trail

You should go now! Why? Because of the wildflowers. We saw fawn lily, chocolate lily, camas, pear, apple and wild plum trees in bloom, red flowering currant, Oregon grape, and more. All absolutely beautiful in the afternoon sunshine!

Wildflowers along the trail

Wildflowers along the trail

Do you like mountain views? This trail has them too – Mount Baker, Twin Sisters, Mount Rainier, Canadian Cascades and the Olympics, all visible from the summit. And island views. From the summit you can see Lummi, Samish, Cypress, Lopez, Orcas, Fidalgo, Portage, Vendovi, Sinclair.

Samish Island, Oyster Dome, Mount Baker . . . from Guemes Mountain

Samish Island, Oyster Dome, Mount Baker . . . from Guemes Mountain

The trail gains approximately 500′ in elevation as it climbs through a lovely forest to the top of Guemes Mountain. It is in very good condition and easy to travel so is a great hike for the entire family – regardless of their age or hiking experience.

Along the trail

Along the trail

For more information on the Guemes Mountain Trail, visit the Washington Trails Association website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/guemes-mountain. Go, and enjoy!

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

134 – Squires Lake

Squires Lake has turned out to be one of our favorite County Parks. We hike their often, sometimes continuing on to Alger Alp, other times on to the beaver pond, and other times along the Ridge Trail (see Hike #27 – Squires Lake to Alger Alp, Hike #32 – Squires Lake Park and Hike #14 – Alger Alp). We like Squires Lake Park because it has a different feel than most of our county parks. Rather than big fields of carefully manicured lawns, picnic tables and shelters, this park is but a steep trail through a forest to a sweet little lake. Today we hiked up to the lake with our fishing gear.

The trail to Squires Lake

The trail to Squires Lake

And we spent the afternoon fishing.

Casting . . .

Casting . . .

I’m reeling in a very tiny fish. Although the locals say there are some nice trout in Squires Lake, this one was definitely not a keeper.

The little one that got away

The little one that got away

Whether hiking out of the park with a stringer full of fish or not, Squires Lake is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon!

Boot shot

Boot shot

More information about Squires Lake Park is available on the Whatcom County Parks website, here  http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/parks/squires/index.jsp; and fishing regulations for the lakes in Washington State can be found here – http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/ .

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, San Juan County, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

126 – Oyster Dome

A great cardio workout on a beautifully sunny Spring day, this hike could more appropriately be called “Girls Hike Up”! A very popular local hike, it is a steep climb to the top of the Oyster Dome. Beginning our hike from the Samish Overlook, we managed to shave off 1,000′  of the total elevation gain, yet still had a steep 1,400′ remaining climb before we reached the top.

It is a steep trail

It is a steep trail

For more information on hiking the Oyster Dome, visit the Washington Trails Association website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/oyster-dome.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

125 – East Bank Baker Lake – South

We’ve hiked the Baker Lake and Baker River area before, but not from the south. To reach the trailhead, we drove over a one-lane road along the top of the Upper Baker Dam. The forest was filled with giant trees and huge stumps from the long-ago days of logging. Our first destination was Anderson Point Camp, then on to Maple Grove Camp where we turned around and hiked back to the trailhead for a total of just under ten miles. Another great hike!

Baker Lake South trailhead

Baker Lake South trailhead

For directions and trip reports for this hike, visit the Washington Trails Association website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/baker-lake-maple-grove. It’s a great wild and scenic hike!

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

123 – Diablo Lake Trail

It’s all about power – hydro power! We hiked the Diablo Lake Trail from Diablo Dam to Ross Dam. Under the bright blue sky, this scenic trail high above the beautiful emerald green Diablo Lake had plenty of stunning mountain peak views along the way. A stellar day for sure!

Happy hikers ... we are

Happy hikers … we are


Information and recent trip reports for the Diablo Lake Trail can be found here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/diablo-lake – on the Washington Trails Association website. Few hikers seem to venture down this trail even though this is an incredibly wild and scenic part of the country and well worth the effort. If you get the chance, you should go!

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

122 – Squires Lake to Alger Alp

On our annual Saint Patrick’s Day hike to Squires Lake, this year we took the hike further by continuing on on from the lake to the Ridge Trail which connected to the Pacific Northwest Trail so that we could hike up to the top of Alger Alp. It was a beautiful day along the trail!

Along the South Ridge Trail

Along the South Ridge Trail


Go here – https://60before60.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/32-squires-lake-park/ – to read about our Saint Patrick’s Day hike last year, and here – https://60before60.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/14-alger-alp-little-baldy/ – to read about our last hike to Alger Alp.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

109 – Alger Alp (Little Baldy)

Alger Alp, known as Little Baldy by the locals, is one of my favorite hikes. The view point on top of Alger Alp can be reached by a series of trails starting from Squires Lake, or by the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) from the Alger Cain Lake Road. For this hike, we started at the trailhead along the Alger Cain Lake Road.

Alger Alp Trailhead

Alger Alp Trailhead


Go here – https://60before60.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/02-alger-alp-little-baldy/ – to view photos from one my previous hikes to the top of Alger Alp.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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