Photos highlight fall beauty of our national forest

  • Herald staff
  • Monday, October 22, 2012 2:32pm
  • Life

Fall is here, and recent photos from the staff of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest capture the season in all its glory.

Click here to see fall photos from the forest.

Laura Potash, botanist for the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest shares her recent perspective on the new season. Potash is also an avid backcountry hiker, mountain climber and a volunteer for Snohomish County Search and Rescue, experiencing the Cascades in every season:

“Certain indicators announce to me that summer is indeed over and fall has arrived in its full glory. On the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, those indicators vary depending on the ecosystem I’m hiking that day. If I’m in the foothills of the mountains, below about 2,000 feet elevation in what we call the western hemlock zone, it is standing under a canopy of big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), whose leaves turn a gentle yellow-golden color. You know fall is here when the light shines through these gigantic leaves from above, and the carpet of deciduous leaves at your feet makes the air smell earthy and wonderful. If you look around on the ground you can probably find a leaf as big as your chest, which is pretty amazing if you think about it. You can find these beauties on hikes off of the Mountain Loop Highway and Middlefork Snoqualmie River.

“But my favorite place for fall color on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie is our subalpine parkland. Up around 4,000 feet elevation and above, you’ll find the dark green, spire-shaped subalpine fir trees (Abies lasiocarpa) contrasting sharply against mats of low-bush huckleberry, also known a blue-leaf huckleberry (Vacinnium deliciosum). This species of huckleberry forms extensive mats interspersed with red heather. In the fall the leaves turn a rich red-plum color and are so gorgeous when backlit — they remind me of stained glass. Hike up in Heather Meadows, Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness to enjoy these stunning displays.

“In the more moisture-rich grassy meadows of the subalpine parklands, there are a few late-blooming wildflowers left. Most notable is the bog gentian (Gentiana calycosa) with its deep purple flowers that only open in sunlight. In portions of drier meadows you can still see the delightful seed-heads of western anemone (Anemone occidentalis). More creative common names describe this species better, such as “mouse-on-a-stick.” Hike through boulder fields at this time of year and you might be lucky enough to come upon a “pika haystack.” I saw one last weekend – a pile of snipped and wilting stalks of lupine and alpine ladyfern, that a pika (an adorable relative of the rabbit) had laid next to its den to dry for winter-time munchies.”

Fall hikes

The staff of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest recommends the following list of relatively easy hikes to experience fall’s colors.

Hannegan Pass

Picture Lake Path

Sauk Mountain

Lake Twenty Two

Beckler Peak

West Fork Foss

Ira Springs

Middle Fork Snoqualmie

Greenwater Lakes

Kelly Butte

More in Life

Beer and cupcakes: Snohomish brewer, baker form unlikely duo

Pacific Northwest Cupcakes uses SnoTown’s brews to make beer-infused sweet treats.

The art and science of weathervanes

They told the direction of the wind and aided in forecasting the, well, weather.

Hundreds of ways to pamper your home and yourself

Find fancy fridges to sparkling jewelry under one roof at home and gift shows in Everett.

This is exactly how a cleaning expert organizes her space in 20 minutes

Try these realistic and attainable tricks to land yourself a cleaner home.

Snohomish brewer flavors beer with chilies from mom’s back yard

Beer of the Week: Smoked rye forms sturdy foundation for SnoTown’s well-balanced Loose Rooster.

Fall is just another blooming season

October can be a time of spectacular colors in your garden.

Woodward Canyon Winery continues to weave masterpieces

Owner Rick Small uses grapes from vines he used when he made wine in his back yard in the 1970s.

Music in the mountains: ‘It’s a weather-dependant hobby’

Anastasia Allison of the Musical Mountaineers reflects on making music at the summits.

Great Plant Pick: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo,’ purple-leaf ninebark

Grow it with shrub roses and perennials, and it combines with with ornamental grasses.

Most Read