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Skagit River

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Enjoy a carefree saunter under big timber along a mighty river on this easy and delightful trail. Perfect for lazy summer evenings or quiet winter days, the Skagit River Loop can be enjoyed by all hikers, from the very young to the young at heart. While away the time on a sunny gravel bar or hike all day on the adjoining paths of Newhalem's network of nature trails.

Leave the hubbub of the visitors center for the peaceful allure of forest. On a wide and well-tended path, begin a slow descent of 75 feet or so to a nearly level bottomland flush with cedars, firs, ferns, and salal. In 0.25 mile pass a side trail leading to one of the Newhalem Creek Campground's attractive loops.

If you pass by in summer, the air will be filled with the sounds of joyous campers banging tent stakes, rattling tin pans, and chopping firewood. If you're here during winter, the soothing sounds of water take over, from the Skagit's distant roar to a procession of raindrops dripping on leathery and decaying leaves.

Soon reach a major junction. Right heads to the campground, and you'll be returning from straight ahead. Head left on the straight path, cutting through a pine barren. Notice remnant logging roads along the way, evidence of the Forest Service's stewardship before the Park Service inherited these lands in 1968.

The trail soon drops a little more. After you cross a moist flat of mossy maples and yews, the Skagit River finally comes into view. Now enjoy a riverside ramble. Sun kissed gravel bars invite lingering. Look for otters, eagle, dippers, and salmon. Marvel at the towering ancient firs and cedars gracing the riverbanks. When it's time to return, continue the loop, avoiding all side trails left- unless you happen to be camping here for the night, in which case linger a little longer.
Driving Directions:

From Marblemount follow the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) east for 14 miles to Newhalem. Turn right on the access road to the Newhalem Creek Campground and the national park visitors center. Cross the Skagit River, pass the campground booth, and in 0.25 mile come to a four-way stop. Continue straight ahead for 0.6 mile, reaching a large parking area for the visitors center. The trail begins behind the northeast corner of the center. Water and restrooms available.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 2 trip reports for this hike.
Skagit River — Nov 16, 2013 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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After hiking the Diosbud Creek Trail, we did this short hike. The trail begins at the northwest corn...
After hiking the Diosbud Creek Trail, we did this short hike. The trail begins at the northwest corner of the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center which is closed for the season. This is a 1.8 mile loop trail. The benches at the visitor's center had 2 and 1/2 " of snow. There was snow on the trail, but it had been walked by others so there was water and slush in many areas. There are many tall and ancient firs and cedars long the riverbanks. Mossy maples and yews were also seen. There were a few easily crossed blowdowns along the trail.
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Skagit River — Sep 01, 2012 — Page
Day hike
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On our way to Winthrop, we stopped in Newhalem, as usual. Only this time, we turned off Hwy 20 befor...
On our way to Winthrop, we stopped in Newhalem, as usual. Only this time, we turned off Hwy 20 before the townsite, and across the bridge to the campground and visitors center. We found this hike in Craig Romano’s North Cascades Hikes book, and decided to stretch our legs before our next hike on the way to Winthrop: Blue Lake.

After a short descent to the river valley, we got to see lots of BIG trees, old growth that had been spared. The trail is wide and in great condition, with several benches hewn out of felled tree trunks that invite sitting and listening. To the river, the breezes through the leaves and campground activity. We got a nice short hike in before lunch, enjoyed the ranger’s display of grizzly and black bear pelts, admired a few Honda Gold Wings and then headed back to Hwy 20 and on to Blue Lake.
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Location
North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway
North Cascades National Park Visitors Center (Newhalem)
Statistics
Roundtrip 1.8 miles
Elevation Gain 100 ft
Highest Point 575 ft
Features
Rivers
Old growth
Established campsites
User info
Good for kids
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Marblemount No. 47

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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