Three Western Washington Bursting with Autumn Colors Hikes without the Crowds

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18 October 2015
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Canyon Ridge

Seasoned Northwest Hikers know that the best fall foliage hikes in the region involve larch trees. Washington’s larches are legendary when it comes to gorgeous colors. But many of Washington’s larch hikes are also quite popular. It can get downright crowded at places like Maple Pass, Lake Ingalls, and Cutthroat Pass.

Fortunately there are quieter autumn hiking options—and they don’t involve larches, meaning much shorter drives from Puget Sound cities. Second best foliage shows in these parts is in old burn zones where berry bushes, mountain ashes and other deciduous shrubbery have colonized the scorched hillsides.

Here are three great options for spectacular fall color admiring that you probably never considered. Three great hikes that perhaps you are not familiar with. Three great hikes that overflow with colors and not people. Check them out!


Canyon Ridge

Mount Baker Region 

Roundtrip: 6.0 miles to first knoll

Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

kid friendly, dog-friendly

Wander on a high and lonely ridge just south of the 49th parallel. Stare out at a seemingly infinite array of imposing peaks-snowcapped and stone-faced, both here in America and over there in Canada. Meander through meadows that in summer burst in a kaleidoscope of colors, then two months later streak the ridges in crimson and gold.



Black and White Lakes

Black and White Lakes

Olympic National Park

Roundtrip Loop:  16.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,200 feet

Backpacking option

A set of secluded subalpine lakes perched along the high divide separating Olympic National Park and the Mount Skokomish Wilderness. Black and White sit cradled in an old burn zone carpeted in berry bushes and mountain ash that transform the area into living color come autumn.


Cutthroat Lakes

Mountain Loop Highway

 Roundtrip: 6.0 miles

Elevation gain: 1,500 feet

dog -friendly

Follow the Walt Bailey Trail through mature forest to the Cutthroat Lakes; a series of small tarns surrounded by heather meadows tucked beneath the long ridge of Bald Mountain. Here an old burn transformed the surroundings into parkland meadows that scream a wide spectrum of vivid colors come October.


For Detailed information on these hikes consult Backpacking Washington for Black and White Lakes; and Day Hiking North Cascades for Canyon Ridge and Cutthroat LakesDay Hiking North Cascades

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