Skagit River Loop
What you’re in for: A walk in the (national) park for all ages
What to see: Mosey through maple and yew trees along the Skagit River, well populated by otters, eagles, dippers, and salmon.
How far to slog: 1.8 miles round trip
Where to find it: North Cascades National Park Visitor Center in Newhalem
What you’re in for: A gentle ramble over log bridges
What to see: Hike around moss-covered ledges to a little promontory above Diablo Lake, where you’ll catch a glimpse of 9,065-foot Jack Mountain, the most prominent in the Skagit Valley.
How far to slog: 3.8 miles round trip
Where to find it: West end of Colonial Creek Campground
Sourdough Mountain Lookout
What you're in for: A lung buster gaining over one vertical mile in just over five linear miles, one of the most challenging hikes in the North Cascades
What to see: You get brilliant, flower-filled alpine meadows, a 1933 lookout, and the far-reaching views you’d expect from a fire-watching perch.
How far to slog: 11.4 miles round trip
Where to find it: Diablo, off Highway 20
What you’re in for: A scramble that demands sure feet
What to see: It’s a tough hike up a narrow spine, but from the 5,964-foot peak you can see dramatic Pickett Range, sparkling Thornton Lakes, and tiny Newhalem on the Skagit River, a full mile below.
How far to slog: 10.6 miles round trip
Where to find it: Thornton Lakes Road off Highway 20 near Newhalem
Hidden Lake Lookout
What you’re in for: A trudge across snowfields and talus slopes
What to see: The trip past alpine meadows isn’t easy, but the reward is a 1931-built National Forest fire lookout positioned nearly 7,000 feet high. There’s plenty of company: pipits, ptarmigans, marmots, pikas, and mountain goats, plus views from the Eldorado Glacier all the way to Mount Rainier.
How far to slog: 9.0 miles round trip
Where to find it: Sibley Creek Road off of Cascade River Road
Big Beaver–Little Beaver
What you’re in for: A long and steady trek over several days
What to see: Travel through two deep, remote valleys filled with old-growth timber and glacier-fed creeks, on the lookout for black bears, spotted owls, and cougars.
How far to slog: 37 miles round trip
Where to find it: Take the water taxi from Ross Dam Landing.