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Cutthroat Lake, Trip Report, 9/30/17

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Cutthroat Lake

With my kids getting older, our schedules are getting fuller, and it’s more challenging to get an entire day for hiking out in the wilderness. But we were able to squeeze in a “quick” trip up to the North Cascades to see the larches turning colors a few weeks ago.

We were not excited about the weather report for the weekend, which called for lowering snow levels and high chances of rain. We also didn’t feel like doing a steep slog, so the kids requested hiking to Cutthroat Lake again. We got on the road fairly early, but still later than I wanted (I think I usually have unrealistic expectations), and with 2 pit stops, we made it to the trailhead by 11:30.

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Cutthroat Lake Trailhead

The trail was in good condition, and we made much better time than the last time we hiked it. It’s a gentle incline most of the way up to the lake, and even young children will find it easy to do.

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Up the Trail

Lots of folks were out enjoying the fall day, and we had better weather than we drove through on the way over the passes.

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Misty Mountains and the First Larches

Because this trail is lower in elevation than the other popular larch hikes on Hwy 20, and because it’s farther east, you have a higher chance of dry weather. We had a few sprinkles in the morning as we were gearing up, but they soon stopped, and we even had sun breaks later in the hike.

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Into the Fog

The larches are visible on the surrounding hillsides from early in the hike, and the scenery just gets better as you move further into the lake basin.

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Brilliant Blueberries

We stopped often to photograph the brilliant blueberry and sumac bushes, and the changing clouds around the peaks.

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Peaking Out

The air was fresh and faintly scented with that subalpine flavor, but because it was cold, we could tell the fragrances were subdued.

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Log Bridge Over Outlet Creek
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Baby Larch Starting to Turn
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No Camping at the Lake, but there is a campsite just before this sign

We made it to the lake in just over an hour. Then we found a good spot to sit and eat our lunches.

I had brought the stove and everyone had cups for cocoa. But I was dismayed to find I had left the cocoa mix in the car. We heated water for the kids’ mac and cheese in a cup, but those didn’t rehydrate properly, so those were a bust as well. I had brought along a new lightweight rain shelter to try out, but we didn’t need it. We took lots of photos and chatted with folks hiking by.

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Gabe Doing His Thing
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Starting to Glow
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Meadows and Peaks

We sat there about an hour before hiking back down to the car for the long drive home. It was a fulfilling and colorful trip. The North Cascades are just stunning, and it’s worth the long trek up there to experience the specialness.

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Jagged Peaks Surrounding
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Sweet Baby Larch
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Cool Fungi
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Heading Down

If You Go:

This hike is best in late September and early October for the fall colors. In the summer it also makes an excellent destination. It sits at 4900 feet, so snows are beginning to cover it up for the long winter. You’ll need your NW Forest Pass for parking. There is an outhouse and a picnic table at the trailhead. See the page in my Hiking Guide for directions and more information.

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Peaks Clothed in Yellow and Green

Book Review: Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula, 2nd Edition, by Craig Romano

Mysterious, deep, ancient forests. Coastal beaches and headlands. Alpine meadows with far-reaching views. Lakes and rivers, wetlands and surf. The Olympic Peninsula has a diverse range of habitats and areas to explore. You can research your next adventure to this wild corner of the country by using Craig Romano’s book, Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula. This…Continue Reading

Blue Lake (Mt. Baker) – Trip report, 9/16/17

After a summer of little hiking, I have been feeling ready to get back out on the trails. I’ve been wanting to go to Blue Lake for a few years now, ever since we were stymied by my car breaking down on the road up there back in 2014. This is one of those hikes…Continue Reading

Fragrance Lake Hike TR – June, 2017

I’m trying to fill in the gaps of kid-friendly trails we haven’t hiked on, and wanted to do something with an easy drive a couple of weeks ago. We slept in late on this beautiful morning, and it turned out Annika’s shoes were too small – once again, I had forgotten to get her new…Continue Reading

Book Review: Take A Walk: Seattle by Sue Muller Hacking

  The month of March brought some newly published hiking books across my desk. Take A Walk: Seattle, by Sue Muller Hacking (Fourth Edition, Sasquatch Books) is one that I’m impressed with. I’ve been flipping through this book quite a bit this spring, and am surprised that there are trails near me that I haven’t explored yet.…Continue Reading

Tolmie State Park, TR 3/17/17

I recently had the chance to drop my kids off with Grandma in the South Sound, and I had the afternoon free to do a hike by myself. Since I was already down there, I thought I should check out a new trail for the website. I picked Tolmie State Park, northwest of Olympia on…Continue Reading

Semiahmoo Park – Trip Report, 3/10/17

We recently took an afternoon and drove up to Semiahmoo Spit near Blaine to do some birding and check out a new-to-us trail. Semiahmoo Spit is a long sand spit that protects Drayton Harbor. Historically this area was used by Native Americans for harvesting natural resources, and it became an abundant salmon canning area after…Continue Reading

Urban Trails: Kitsap by Craig Romano – Book Review

Many of you are familiar with Craig Romano, the prolific and energetic guidebook writer for Washington State. We use his books all the time to plan our hikes to wild and scenic locations. But it’s not always easy to get out to true wilderness. With iffy weather, packed schedules, family illnesses – sometimes we need…Continue Reading

Pete Lake Backpack, 8/20-21, 2106

Way back in August, Gabe had a camping trip near Salmon La Sac with the teen group at our church. I was ferrying boys up there for one night, so I thought I’d take advantage of the weekend and explore a trail I hadn’t been on before. I asked around for people to come with…Continue Reading