By Jessi Loerch Herald Writer
That last bits of summer are fading slowly away. The sun is lower in the sky and the leaves are starting to turn. This time of year is one of the best for hiking. You’ll find fewer hikers on the trail and practically no bugs.
You’ll also get to enjoy the gorgeous autumn light and the crisp weather.
Here are six hikes where you can see great fall colors.
West Cady Ridge
What you’ll see: Snow-capped Monte Cristo range in the background with scarlet huckleberry in the foreground. “It’s really spectacular,” said Gary Paull, wilderness and trails coordinator for the forest.
Where: Follow U.S. 2 east to just before milepost 50. Turn left on Beckler Road/FS Road 65. Drive 15 miles and turn right on FS Road 63. The trailhead is 4.2 miles ahead.
Length: 15.6 miles round-trip.
Picture Lake Path
What you’ll see: Brilliant fall colors and a beautiful alpine view of Mount Shuksan, all mirrored in a pretty mountain lake. This is an easy, short hike.
Where: Travel east on the Mount Baker Highway for 21 miles past the Glacier Public Service Center. Park just past the Firs Lodge on the left on the road.
Length: 0.5 mile loop.
What’ll you see: Views of Mount Baker from the trailhead, as well as views of Bacon Peak in North Cascades National Park. This hike is a family-friendly trip to sub-alpine lakes.
Where: Drive east on Highway 20 to milepost 82. Turn left on Baker Lake Highway, FS Road 11. Continue for 14 miles to Baker Dam Road and turn right. Cross Upper Baker Dam and turn left on FS Road 1107. Follow it for 8 miles then turn left on FS Road 1107022.
Length: 5 miles round-trip.
Pacific Crest Trail
What you’ll see: An ongoing color show, including scarlet huckleberry and golden mountain ash. This longer hike deserves some time. From Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie pass is about 37 miles, so plan accordingly. Paull suggests hiking north to south for the best views.
Where: Drive the summit of Stevens Pass, milepost 65. Turn into the ski area’s parking area (lot A). Head uphill and make an immediate left to the next parking level. The trailhead is on the right side of the lot.
Length: 37 miles one way.
What you’ll see: Scarlet huckleberry foliage and a lovely view of Big Four and Del Campo.
Where: From Verlot Public Service Center on the Mountain Loop Highway, travel east for 16.6 miles. The trailhead is on the left.
Length: 8.6 miles round-trip.
Park Butte trailhead
What you’ll see: Great views of the south slope of Mount Baker and a profusion of color, try this trail. You have several options for hikes in this area, including the Scott Paul trail, which could turn your trip into a loop.
Where: Drive east on Highway 20 to milepost 82. Turn left on Baker Lake Highway, FS Road 11. Go for 12 miles, then go left on FS Road 12. At 3.6 miles, go right on FS Road 13. Follow it to trailhead at 5.3 miles.
Length: 7.5 miles round-trip or more.