Quote of the Month:

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own." - Charles Dickens

Amazing Autumn Hike along the Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail

Parent Category: Hiking
Created: 21 December 2015
Location: North Cascades Region, Diablo Lake Area
Roundtrip: 7,2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 2000 feet
Highest Point: 6650 feet
GPS Coordinates: N 48 30.972 W -121 15.876
Visitor’s Information:

Northwest Forest Pass Required

Pictures below will take you along a fantastically scenic trail. Enjoy the beauty of autumn scenery!

 Photo from the Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail, taken in autumn, North Cascades Region, Diablo Lake Area
General Information:

There comes the brightest part of autumn - the golden autumn. Trees, before falling into a long deep sleep, attire in garment of gold, quickly yellowing leaves. Autumn forest reminds a beautiful colorful painting of a skilled artist.

Autumn is the most vivid season that has been glorified by many poets, praised by prose writers; autumn nature is depicted in paintings of a great number of artists. The beauty of autumn nature brings in the romance to the mood and light sadness to reflections. Autumn is impregnated with tenderness, delicacy and with some wisdom.

Quiet, sun-drenched, autumn days are the best time to get immersed in nature and enjoy the elegancy of unforgettably beautiful fall landscapes. And the best place for this, to our opinion, is the Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail.

Photo from the Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail, taken in autumn, North Cascades Region, Diablo Lake Area

The Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail is fairly deemed to be one of the most amazing and most visited trails in Washington. Along its entire length of about 7 miles (roundtrip) it provides the hikers with unforgettable views. The trail is beautiful at any season: full of wildflowers in blossom in summer and amazingly decorated with various colors in autumn. 

Before starting the trip you should make a decision concerning which route to take: clockwise or counter-clockwise. Counter-clockwise route is easier with ascent being more gradual; the clockwise route is great for more experienced hikers, as the grade of the ascent during the first part of the hike is quite steep. But whichever route you chose, you’ll be delighted by the loveliness and enchantment of the nature surrounding you.

If you decide to take the counter-clockwise route (which is more popular, by the way), you should leave directly from the Rainy Pass parking lot and follow Trail # 740 (leading to Lake Ann). This first part of the trail, which is a well maintained path going gradually upward, will lead you for about 1.3 mile through a dense second-growth forest, where you’ll be able to see spruces, fir-trees and hemlock trees. The understorey, which has already started to change its somewhat dull green color for the different golden hues, gives the forest a festive look. Enjoy the rustling of the blanket of leaves under your feet, but don’t forget to watch your steps as the path has sometimes rocks and exposed roots on it.

Photo from the Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail, taken in autumn, North Cascades Region, Diablo Lake Area

Then you’ll reach a trail fork, offering you 2 options. If you turn left to take a side trip to Lake Ann (which will be more or less flat detour for about 0,6 miles, but this side trip is really worth your time and effort as you’ll be able to admire the fascinating lake in the immediate vicinity. ) or continue keeping to the main trail, going upward. Traveling this way will allow you to see Lake Ann, surrounded by numerous peaks, from a height of 1000 ft. This stunning view will get imprinted in your mind and in your heart! Especially during the fall season. Fantastic golden larches, covering the hills around Lake Ann, mixed with the deep green conifers create amazing scenery.

Then after reaching the trail junction turn right to get to the Heather Pass. Take your time to admire the incredible savage scenery of the mountainous terrain. This landscape is able to enchant any hiker with its beauty and grandeur.

Photo from the Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail, taken in autumn, North Cascades Region, Diablo Lake Area

Then you should come back to the trail junction and follow the trail turning left to the ridge, leading you further upward to the Maple Pass. Walking along the ridge top you will have a great chance to take delight in viewing the alpine meadows running along the sides of the ridge decorated with multiple vibrant colors, as well as enjoy the distant enchanting views of the mountain peaks, including Corteo, Goode, Frisco, Black Pea and many more, as well as views of Lake Ann and Rainy Lake

One more amazing thing which will take your breath away at the top of the ridge is the clouds. They are hovering between the mountain peaks at your feet as though trying to hide the best views from your sight but thus on the contrary, creating better and more mysterious pictures of the mountains. 

Photo from the Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail, taken in autumn, North Cascades Region, Diablo Lake Area

Very soon the trail starts quickly and steeply descending along the ridge, later taking you again through the forest. After getting onto the paved path turn left and walk about half a mile to the parking lot.

It should be also mentioned that the Heather-Maple Pass Loop Trail is one of very few trails at the territory of the North Cascades National Park, which is dog friendly.


These pictures were taken in October, 2015

Driving Directions:

From Seattle: You should drive the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) through Marblemount and further for about 50 miles to Rainy Pass. The trailhead will be on the right side of the road.

GPS Coordinates: N 48 30.972 W -121 15.876

In order to get directions click on the map below:



Photo: Roman Khomlyak

Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska

Information: Svetlana Baranova

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