From my visit to North Cascades NP, I learned (from a fireside ranger talk), some interesting points about the park:
- The park is comprised of the North Cascades NP, Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area
- The park has both national park and wilderness designation. The wilderness designation apparently affords it the highest protections from any development while the national recreation designated areas have more lenient protections. This explains why there are dams and hydroelectric facilities in those areas.
- The park will be reintroducing the fisher, a small weasel-like creature that was previously hunted and trapped to extinction in Washington. The fisher reintroduction program has been controversial but they’ve had success with it already in Mount Olympic and Mount Rainier NPs. With any luck, in a few years we’ll hopefully be fortunate enough to spot some fishers while out hiking!
Gorge Powerhouse/Ladder Creek Falls
An easy half mile trail with a suspension bridge crossing.
Thunder Knob trail
The trailhead is opposite the entrance to the Colonial Creek campground. There’s a small parking area available off Hwy 20. The trail is moderately strenuous, winds uphill and ends at a nice overlook of Diablo Lake.
Happy Creek trail
Very small parking lot with only a handful of spaces. Most visitors come to walk amongst the cedars on the raised wooden boardwalk. Access to the trail is off the boardwalk path. It’s easily missed, so keep an eye out! 👀
The hike was moderately strenuous as some portions were steep. The trail ends at a skinny waterfall.
River Loop trail
This easy hike is accessed right from Newhalem campground, between A and B loop. The meandering trail takes you through old growth forest and follows the river for a while. Although the trail winds close to the campground, I didn’t run into a single person on my hike. It might be that people thought that a hike that’s near a campground can’t be any good, but that was their mistake.
My favorite part of the path was walking among the moss covered trees. It felt like a step back in time (cue Jurassic Park music).
RV/Oversized vehicle parking: Newhalem campground accepts advanced reservations and walk-ins. We were able to secure a same day site even upon arrival in the afternoon. Sites offer no services and were $16/night. A few can accommodate mid to large size RVs or trailers. There is a dump station with water-fill station near the exit.
Goodell Creek campground is all first-come, first-served and also costs $16/night with no available services. Sites are nestled among moss covered trees and are all very shady. If you’re lucky, you may snag one by the river.
What’s a visit to Washington without making a quick stop in Seattle? ☺
Always fun to wander, eat and shop!
A great place to visit — so visually arresting and vibrant!