3 Great Hikes for Summer

Heliotrope Ridge


Heliotrope Ridge and the Coleman Glacier. Photo by John D’Onofrio

After a two-year hiatus caused by the closure of the Glacier Creek Road due to a massive washout, the Heliotrope Ridge Trail has regained its place among the supreme hikes around Mt. Baker. This iconic trail climbs 1400 feet in a scant 2.2 miles to reach the icy ramparts of the Coleman Glacier cascading down beside alpine meadows adorned with summer wildflowers. Several unbridged creek crossings can be daunting (or impossible), but the opportunity to get up close and personal with the glacial ice is an aesthetic delight. Koma Kulshan’s summit seems close enough to touch.

Trailhead: Glacier Creek Rd. (FR-39), 13 miles from The Mt. Baker Highway (WA-542). Northwest Forest Pass required.

Image Lake


Image Lake & Glacier Peak. Photo by John D’Onofrio


Image Lake, located in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, is a place that every lover of the North Cascades should visit at least once in their life. I first made the trek back at the dawn of time (in 1982) and have been fortunate enough to return several times over the years. To visit this beautiful tarn requires a commitment—and at least a few days. From the trailhead, hike 9.4 miles through the beautiful green rainforest beside the Suiattle River and then up, up, up to attain Miner’s Ridge. You’ll have climbed 4400 feet by the time you reach the lake, so you’ll want to stay a while. The expanse of Miner’s Ridge is a feast for the senses, with non-stop views of the surrounding peaks.  A day spent wandering here will be a day to remember. Image Lake itself is a paradigm of Cascadian beauty—at day’s end, Glacier Peak reflected on the water’s surface will make it obvious how the lake got its name.

Trailhead: The end of the Suiattle River Rd. (FR-26), off WA-530, 8 miles north of Darrington, Northwest Forest Pass required.

Tiffany Mountain

The craggy summit of Tiffany Mountain. Photo by John D’Onofrio

Here’s a chance to summit an 8,242-foot-high peak—in June! The 3-mile-long hike up Freezeout Ridge to Tiffany’s craggy peak is surprisingly straightforward, climbing 1685 feet. Located on the eastern margins of the Cascades, it begins in burned-over lodgepole pine forest but quickly ascends to wide-open meadows. At the Whistler Pass junction, go left, and—after a half mile of grunting—you’ll be enjoying views of the Cascades to the west and the Columbia Plateau to the east from the rubble-strewn summit. Make no mistake: Tiffany Mountain is a long way from anywhere, and no matter where you’re coming from, it involves a lot of driving on bumpy roads, but its isolated location means that you might just have it to yourself.


Trailhead: Drive the East Chewuch River Road approximately 6 miles north of Winthrop, turn right on  FS-37. Drive for 11.5 miles. Take a left on FS-39 for 3.2 miles to Freezeout Pass and the trailhead on the right. No permit required.

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