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Ready to give the whole sleeping-in-the-woods thing a try? Great! Whether you end up hiking three miles or 15, there’s nothing like resting your head someplace spectacular accessed by only your own two feet.
Before heading out, be sure to check current conditions and recent trip reports. The summer melt-out is several weeks behind schedule this year.
1. Fourth of July Pass: Get a taste of what the North Cascades have to offer on this overnight trek. Campsites are situated about 200 feet below the pass and offer views of Colonial Peak, Snowfield Peak and the Neve Glacier. Make it a through-hike by starting at the Colonial Creek Campground and ending at the East Bank Trailhead. (11.7 miles roundtrip; 2,200 feet gain; overnight permit required)
2. Pete Lake: Not sure how your quads and knees feel about a steep hike with a full pack? The trail to Pete Lake is flat, flat and more flat. Got energy to burn when you arrive? Consider continuing an additional four miles to Spectacle Lake, but beware that crossing Lemah Creek can be treacherous in early season. (9 miles roundtrip; 400 feet gain, Northwest Forest Pass required)
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3. Marmot Pass: Follow the Big Quilcene River through a moss-covered forest to a pass with views of jagged Olympic peaks and a trail junction that leads to an easy scramble up Buckhorn Mountain. Camp in primitive spots just below the pass, or if you’re feeling zapped, pitch a tent at Camp Mystery (4.5 miles in) and explore from there. (10.5 miles roundtrip; 3,500 feet of elevation gain; Northwest Forest Pass required)
4. West Fork Foss River: Head to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and follow the West Fork of the Foss River to an array of destinations next to sapphire-blue water. The trail accesses five picturesque lakes in varying distances. Don’t forget the bug juice. (14.6 miles roundtrip and 3,300 feet of gain to the farthest lake; Northwest Forest Pass required)