Jul

28Sun

Sunday Slacker's Hidden Lake lookout hike.

John Enriquez @johnenriquez

Ash Way Park & Ride - Lynnwood, WA
Ash Way & 164th St SW

Sun, Jul 28, 2019 at 2:00 PM - 12:00 AM

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For you Slackers that can't hike on Saturday. Let's take a hike up to the Hidden Lake lookout. Fellow organizer Tarn is leading this hike the day before so we will have a good trail report. From wildflower meadows in its early stretches, to stark granite at the top with 360 degree views, it is one of the most beautiful hikes in the entire North Cascades. This hike is rated by Alltrails as hard so definitely not for beginners. Please be fully aware of your hiking abilities before you sign up!!! This is strenuous hike. We will take our time and hike at a leisurely pace with breaks, 1.7-2 mph. There a lot of gain and some scrambling at the top. Trip reports indicate there is also snow a the top, so poles an microspikes are recommended for safety. No dogs on this hike please! Distance - 8 miles round trip. Elevation gain - 3300 feet. High point - 6900 feet. Pass required - none. When the group is larger than 12 people, we will split in to 2 groups and stay in touch with Walkie talkies. What to bring: Good boots, poles, hat, gloves, dress in warm layers, lots of water, rain gear, sun screen, sun glasses, $15 for gas for the driver, and a great attitude. This will be worth it. Route: The contrast between the start of the trail and the end could not be greater. The path to the Hidden Lake Lookout starts out in dense forest along and occasionally through and over runoff streams. After about a mile, the trail emerges into the open below soaring cliffs and ridges in a deep creek drainage. Shortly after, it crosses the east fork of Sibley Creek for the first of two times and begins switchbacking over badly eroded tread through fields of false hellebore, slide alder, and–unfortunately–stinging nettles. Soon, though, the unruly undergrowth fades to meadows of wildflowers, in early summer it delivers a stunning display in both color and variety. Roughly a mile from the prior creek crossing, the trail makes it second hop over Sibley Creek. Here the terrain undergoes yet another radical transformation. For the next three quarters of a mile, you make your mostly level way across a rocky slope filled with heather and blueberries. In fall, this may be the very best place in the Cascades to find highly prized vaccinium deliciosum, the most flavorful of all mountain blueberries. Meanwhile, the giants of the North Cascades come into view. The sheer western face of Eldorado Peak’s perfect pyramid peers over the headwaters of Sibley Creek. In the other direction, Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan hover above the ridge of Big Devil Peak. At the end of this stretch, the trail swings to the south. Snow lingers late, and even at the end of summer, the gully the trail climbs through may well hold patches of snow. The surroundings change dramatically yet again, with the trees and subalpine meadows giving way to bare granite. In a quarter of a mile, you see the lookout for the first time. It looks menacingly unattainable, perched next to broken rock that seems to reach for the sky in a giant claw at the top of a near-vertical face. To the south, the smooth glaciers of Snowking Mountain make a brief appearance. In another quarter of a mile, you reach a high saddle that marks the boundary of North Cascades National Park. If the view here doesn’t take your breath away, check for a pulse: the dark waters of Hidden Lake seem to disappear over the lip of a hanging valley beyond which stand some of the staunchest sentinels of the North Cascades – Johannesburg Peak, Sahale Mountain, Boston Peak, and Mount Forbidden. From here, the trail is much more informal. It traverses to the right over a steep open slope beneath the summit, intersecting the visible ridgeline about halfway up its length. There the route heads right over jumbled boulders. You may be able to pick out a smoother bootpack in the dirt and follow it until reaching the summit lookout. As you would expect from someplace once used for spotting wildfires, 360-degree views of an immense area now open up around you. What makes the view so remarkable is the extent to which the long ridge containing the most storied mountaineering prizes of the North Cascades is laid out like a ribbon in front of your eyes. Seldom are hikers surrounded by so many mighty mountains in one spot: Sahale, Triad, Eldorado, Torment, Boston, Forbidden, Klawatti, Sharkfin. From here, you can see just how closely one stacks on top of the next after the next. Driving Directions From Marblemount on Hwy 20, drive the Cascade River Road just short of 10 miles to the junction with FS 1540. The road will be signed for the Hidden Lake Trail. Drive the steep, rutted, rocky road 4.5 miles to the road end and trailhead. Be sure to leave room for other people to drive in and out of the trailhead area. I