Over the next several months, the Travel section will carry a new feature — Northwest through the Lens, photographs of sights in the...

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DIABLO LAKE, Skagit County — Paddling on a sheen of green can perk up anyone who ventures to emerald-colored Diablo Lake at the geographic center and, some would say, the aesthetic center of the North Cascades National Park.

Amid chiseled and forested mountains, gently stroking the water of this quiet and deep lake is a personal way to get close to nature, especially after taking in the vistas along the scenic North Cascades Highway (State Route 20).

The North Cascades Institute makes it easy for visitors to connect with Diablo Lake and the surrounding North Cascades National Park by offering free Sunday morning canoeing adventures that begin at the Learning Center.

No equipment and prior experience are needed to enjoy a couple of hours aboard a 14-passenger canoe.