While Gretel needed zero recovery time after our 3-day backpacking trip, I am still sore and ouchie. None the less, the show must hike on.
A friend from California was in town last weekend and I thought I would show her some of the best fall-color hikes near Seattle. We have a lot of deciduous trees here in Washington that stay green all year long but there are a few trees that pop gold, red, and orange against the green background come October – Maple and Larch trees. I decided to take her and Gretel to one of the best dog friendly fall hikes near Seattle – the Heather-Maple Pass Loop.
Now, when I say “near” Seattle I mean within driving distance. A long driving distance though. The trailhead is about 3 hours northeast of Seattle along the North Cascades Highway. We spent more hours driving (6 hours round trip) than we did hiking (about 4 hours) for this hike but it was worth it.
The trail starts at Rainy Pass along the North Cascades Scenic Byway (Highway 20), which cuts through the North Cascades National Park. Now, dogs aren’t allowed on the trails of the North Cascades National Park but there is a “loophole” for this trail. I have yet to find out the “official” name for it, or the land manager (I assume it’s the Forest Service or Department of Transportation) but there is a corridor on the north and south sides of the highway that is not technically “in the park” so dogs are allowed on those trails.
The trails often go right up to the boundary of the National Park so these “loophole” trails are a great way to experience some of the North Cascades National Park scenery with your dog.
Anyway, this is an excellent dog friendly hike any time of year but especially in the fall. Everyone else thinks so too though so this trail is very crowded on the weekends. I suggest you go on a weekday if you can for the best chance at some solitude and to get the best “people-less” photos.
Enjoy the rest of the photos from our fall hike….
Trail Name: Heather-Maple Pass Loop
Distance: 7.2 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Highest Point: 6,650 feet
Permits and Passes: A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead
Directions: From Seattle, drive Hwy 20 through the town of Marblemount and on towards North Cascades National Park. After approximately 50 miles, the Rainy Pass trailhead will be on the south (right) side of the road. There is room here for 40 cars, as well as a privy. There is also a parking area on the north side of the road here which provides access to other trails.