Sep 13, 2012
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: High Pass
- Region: North Cascades -- Mount Baker Highway
- Trails: High Pass (#676)
- Avg Rating: 2.75
- Why You Should Go Now
- Wildflowers blooming
- Fall foliage
Parking at Twin Lakes: the pile of snow mentioned in the previous trip report was removed today (or recently) and the road is clear all the way to the trailhead between the lakes with lots of available parking. The FS was up there with equipment today so we guessed they may have been the ones to clear the road.
The Trail: there are still a few small patches of snow along the trail but fortunately none of the snow is in the slightly exposed areas where one would slide some distance if they slipped. The switchbacks below Low Pass are steep and narrow and frequently over loose gravel and I was glad to have poles to make me at least feel more sure-footed.
Soon after the junction, the trail travels down steeply before climbing steeply back up to Low Pass. Low Pass has good views, but keep going, the views just get better and better. From Low Pass to High Pass, the trail continues up some short switchbacks, but not nearly as steep and without the feeling of exposure. After High Pass, we continued up to the knoll where we could see the Pleiades. This section of trail was extremely narrow in places and even non-existent near the top, but so worth the effort to pop out at the saddle and look straight across at the Pleiades.
Views: We then headed up the more defined trail to the knob on the right. From this vantage point we spotted a herd of 14 mountain goats on the snow and rocks below the Pleiades. They must have heard/seen us because they all started heading rather rapidly for the rocks on the far side away from us. We watched as several of the goats climbed all the way to the top of one of the rock columns. We could hear some rocks falling as they scampered up to the peak.
This was an interesting time to visit this area when the seasons are overlapping. Near the beginning of the trail, the slopes were still covered with a rainbow of summer flowers not yet past their peak blooming. Above High Pass, the huckleberry bushes had already turned crimson creating a flaming glow when looking into the sun.
Our GPS calculated we hiked 5.5 miles and gained 2200’ in elevation total. Being shorter than many trails we’ve hiked this summer and only taking half a day instead of all day, we determined this is one trail that provides some of the most “bang for your buck.” We would have continued up to Winchester Lookout had we not wanted to get back early.