Summer coming early to the North Cascades

travel writing

With the weekend forecast for abundant sunshine and temperatures grazing the 80s, I desperately wanted a play date in the mountains. I picked the Boulder River Trail to hike with friends, in part because it’s shaded so we wouldn’t overheat.

The hike sits off Highway 530, which brings you east into the Cascades. The road winds through a tight valley filled with farms, and the bright, spring green of the deciduous trees belie the early summer we seem to be having. Before we even reached the trail head, a tantalizing peek at the glacier-capped serrations of the North Cascades came into view. Note to self: Find a trail into these mountains once the melt out a bit.

The trail itself starts out in a logged-out forest before reaching old growth. The sun disappears and you hike high above the cacophonous Boulder River. You enter a gorge, and soon you’re standing at an unnamed but impressive waterfall, one that splits in two as it careens down the rockface. About a mile later, there’s another waterfall, also streaming down the canyon’s side. We chose to turn around here since we got a bit of a late start, but the trail continues another two miles until it ends at a gravel bar on the river.

This is a great trail for families with kids, hikers with knee problems (like in our group), or an early season warm-up before the tougher hikes melt out from under the deep winter snow.