Explore Backpacking Trips - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
8 hours ago

I did this hike last summer in June and it was amazing. I hiked this again yesterday (09/23/18) and it’s just as gorgeous as I remembered. This time it was awesome to see the orange and yellow leaves everywhere. Fall in the PNW is my favorite. We found it is the best route to take lower Elliot there and back. It follows the river and has a lot more to see. It isn’t as flat as upper Elliot but it’s worth it.

Great hike that was definitely a work out (average fitness). Some pretty steep gains until you break through the trees and enter into the boulder fields. The trail was really easy to follow and the fall colors have already started to come in. I went on a Sunday morning and the parking lot was already full but I didn't feel like the trail was too busy. I decided to go the extra half mile up to Bandera Summit and it was pretty steep, but there were a lot of steps and rocks that climbing up wasn't too difficult going up or down. I am still glad I had my poles though, they helped a ton.. Just pace yourself. It was a pretty cloudy day so I wasn't able to see all around, but all in all, great views either way and a great work out.

Hiked this trail a couple weeks back. The trail is in shade, great for a quick hike. The two lakes are beautiful but I was really bothered by bugs. The trail was more crowded than I expected but not too many people. Beware of road conditions to get to the trailhead. The last 2-3 miles drive up to the trailhead is on gravel road.

hiking
3 days ago

Beautiful and great hike on a sunny clear 60 degree day September day. Three of us made the hike and took 4 hours total at a slower pace. Great views and moderately difficult. I wore trail runners and maybe a more stout hiking boot would be better as there is some rocks to navigate through at the top of the trail. I loved it. Considering it was after labor day there were still about thirty cars in the lot when we arrived at 1100 and about the same when we left at 3:00. Great hike (we had our leashed dog-he loved it)

hiking
4 days ago

This trail was absolutely beautiful!!! A perfect moderate rating. It is very rocky (big rocks, small rocks, lots of looking down where you're walking) so hiking boots with ankle support would definitely make your life easier. Once you get to the top, climb up the big boulder to the left where there is an incredible view of the lake and basin. The climb down to the lake is quick and easy and offers a few more beautiful views on the way down. I'm sure it gets really busy during good weather and weekends, so would recommend an early start!

I loved this trail and the beautiful lake! It is very rocky so make sure you wear hiking boots with ankle support because it would be very easy to twist an ankle. I saw a lot of dogs on the trail, and the bigger dogs seemed to love it but saw some smaller dogs that were really struggling. It also might be a good idea to bring booties for your pups If they have sensitive paws due to the rocks.

Honestly one of the best hikes I’ve done since moving to WA. The hike up wasn’t too bad, I did have to take some breaks but once you make it to the top it is worth it! 360° views of the surrounding mountains and an awesome view of Mount Baker. We hiked along the ridge for a bit and it was beautiful. Unfortunately we got a late start getting there so we couldn’t stay as long as we hoped to. Ended up hiking back down in the dark which wasn’t too bad using our phone flashlights. I would highly recommend this trail!

This is a good hike. An ass kicker on the way up but it’s broken up with several great views on the river and waterfalls. Opens up into a valley and campground near the top. We didn’t summit because it was really foggy but I would recommend it on a clear day! Follow all our adventures on Instagram @themicrotourists!

hiking
7 days ago

A lovely, challenging hike with a stunning reveal at the end. Bring a small picnic to enjoy by the lake. We saw many other hikers and lots of interesting wildlife. Just beautiful.

Beautiful hike!!! Pretty rocky. Highly recommend hiking boots with good ankle support. Make sure you continue down to lake once you get to the lookout. Will absolutely go again!!

Great view at the end because before you are surrounded by trees.

It’s okay, trail is pretty boring but steady until the last bit of climb. Falls are lovely.

love love love this app. definitely my go to. thanks reviewers that take the time to update trail conditions and tips.

hiking
10 days ago

Rained off and on the whole hike. Was beautiful and not too busy on a Thursday.

We found a ‘grove’ of huckleberries at the lake! The hike was beautiful, especially the boulder fields. The spur to the ridge was challenging and fun with an amazing view.

It can be a minor challenge to find the trailhead and getting past all of those switchbacks may pose more than a minor for some cars and those in a rush. Go early. once you start the hike and you clear the forest, you reach an open area. From this stretch you come face to face with Mount Baker. a little further up and you have a spectacular view of Mount Shuksan and the rest of the peaks in the range. The long sloping hills make it seem something out of a postcard of Switzerland. strongly recommend!

hiking
15 days ago

This hike have great and amazing views of the lakes but it’s very rocky all the way up to Gem Lake. I do recommend to go early in the morning to get a good parking and also to avoid a lot of the day hikers. I started at 08:30am and there’s not many people at that time. Once I passed Snow Lake, I’ve only seen a few people on my way to Gem Lake. And most of them are coming back from camping. Once I got to Gem Lake, there’s only a few people there (I counted 5 to include myself). I stayed for half an hour and enjoyed the quietness of the nature. I completed the hike with a moving time right under 5 hours. I could’ve finish it earlier but there were a lot of people going the other direction :( So, yeah. My recommendations: Early start, good hiking shoes, and drinking water

hiking
16 days ago

Beautiful. After finishing the ascent and going down around the back end and going down the first two switchbacks, and having the lake come into view down below, it was amazing.

The hike wasn't too bad. Lots of rocks throughout, and the beginning of the trail from the trailhead, and at the end of the ascent were the hardest.

Overall, I thought it was completely worth it. Just so beautiful. Make sure you leave early so there aren't that many crowds, or during the week.

backing.... it was my first time with my husband, and absolutely loved it!!! I’ve hiked snow many times and never get tired of the lakes! 9-6-19

17 days ago

This hike was awesome! The hike to the lake was not too bad at all, and the view when you got there was amazing!

I came back nearly a month later and was able to summit. My last trip I fell short just at the lookout. This time I made the entire trip. There wasn't any snow fields to cross which turned out to be an absolute better alternative to hop boulders. Once you're through the boulder field, you'll hook around the mountain in which the Lookout is on top of and you'll instantly be mortified of how much more you have to traverse to make it up. Never fear, the last climb goes fast and it's not as hard as it looks. Good luck!

Just perfect. Beautiful views most of the way along the trail. The views from the lake and lookout are one of a kind-you can see most of the Cascades from Rainier to Baker. Perfectly ripe berries all along the way were the icing on the cake. It is certainly a lot of work though-the way down seems especially steep on the legs.

hiking
18 days ago

just love it worth the hike

backpacking
19 days ago

A 50 lbs pack on this hike was a real leg burner but worth it. We camped 2 nights and 3 days. The downside is that we got stuck in a constant rain+wind storm for 2 days and couldn’t see more than 30 feet in front of us. The the views were of a gray cloud that we were stuck in. Upside, bears and bugs don’t like that weather so no run in’s, ha. I have an inReach Garmin and kept holding onto hope for Monday, our last morning, since the weather report kept updating at 0% chance rain. It did finally blow out and I’ll admit, seeing that happen was almost worth the storm. Once the sun finally pierced through the clouds, it was amazing. Then it took about an hour for the cloud cover to blow away and reveal why the North Cascades are my favorite. Photos don’t do it justice, you just have to come and see for yourself. Just don’t be a jerk, pack out what you pack in and no fires. The plant life up here is like a PNW rainforest. It’s gorgeous and there are also tons of wild blueberries around. We got to spend 3 hours exploring around which was great. We all had tent fever pretty bad and needed to stretch out minds and our legs. I’m just happy we were able to see the endless sea of Cascades before heading down. We were also stoked that we didn’t have to scramble down wet and muddy rocks. I will say that the scramble area is way longer than posted on here. It wasn’t constant but there were scrambles for the last mile. Some of them were so high that my full pack top touched what I was climbing. Trekking poles and hiking boots are a must, and not worn down hiking boots, you’ll need good outsoles. Also, the split from Barlow trail to Gothic Basin happens a little before what’s posted on here. The original trail is unsafe, looked like a tree fell through. They made a new trail to connect over, just follow the wooden sign that says “Gothic Basin” and ignore your preloaded maps. I use OnX, it lets you preload high resolution maps for offline use. They’re better than my Garmin maps. Definitely bring a bear canister or ursack. There was a warning sign saying they “strongly discouraged camping” at Barlow pass, which is the trail you begin on. Apparently it’s a bear hangout and the trial head where you park, bears have gotten into vehicles and aren’t easily scared off. So while Gothic Basin isn’t Barlow pass, they share the same parking and part of the trail and it’s still bear country. So be smart. Do your research and enjoy the view! It’s worth every bit of leg burn.

Best of the best. Spectacular hike. At this time of year it seems to be better to summit in the am, in order to catch the views.

Great experience

Olallie lake was a gorgeous spot! Great for a swim and not too many bugs. Water was perfect and it was quiet at the top

Love this hike!!! The surprise view at the end was breathtaking. The day parking pass is only $5.00& you can purchase it at the visitor center off exit 3 across from the chevron. The wilderness pass is free & is located at the trail head. You only need one for the group. Only Max of 12 in a group. This trail is moderate however I’ve seen all ages and many kinds of dogs complete this trail. This is a high traffic trail on weekends & holidays. It took my husband & I about 2 hours to go up on Labor Day, with short breaks for water, photos & traffic. He even jumped in the water to swim!! You will love this view!!

backpacking
20 days ago

We went on Sept 2nd for our honeymoon. The trail was great, rugged but definitely worth it!

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