Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Maple Falls with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

1 day ago

Easily my most favorite hike in the North Cascades. Message me if you have any questions.

7/18/18-7/19/18: I hiked up Welcome Pass late on the 18th, camping about halfway up, then continued on the High Divide Trail along the ridge. The views along the High Divide Trail are incredible, and I can only imagine how much better they would have been on a clearer day. I continued on to the Damfino Lakes Trail, reaching the little cabin at the end, resting for a bit, then making my way back along the same route. It ended up being about 1.5 miles the first day and 20+ miles the second, which was fairly tough.

The ascent up Welcome Pass was brutal and felt a lot longer than the 2.3 miles it really was. Once I reached the ridge, however, it was all worth it. The views were incredible when I could get them, but the majority of my hike was spent within a cloudy mist. The whole High Divide Trail has numerous snowfields of varying sizes which were easy to cross with trekking poles and boots. I’d imagine that the majority of the snow will be gone within a few weeks. The snowmelt has created some nice lakes and streams to collect water from along the trail. There’s a lot of contouring on the trail and some really beautiful views of Mount Baker and the surrounding valleys and mountains. There are a few dangerous sections a few miles (westbound) into the High Divide Trail that are narrow and cross rocky slopes that have partially collapsed and look liable to continue, but I passed them unscathed with a bit of caution. Damfino Lakes Trail has a lot of debris and fallen trees from the winter months that haven’t been cleared, likely because the access road to the trail is closed right now and has been since late September of last year, as I gathered from the broken trail register’s water-damaged log sheets. A lovely and challenging hike for a single day!

At present, the “directions” button for this hike will take you to the closed service road and you will have to turn around because the trailhead is another 9 miles past the closure. This may change in time, but for the short-term, follow the written directions instead, which are correct. The map of this trail is also not quite correct, as it includes Damfino Lakes and High Divide, but not the ascent/descent of Welcome Pass itself, which (at least at the time of posting this review) begins at the eastern terminus of the route on the map here. There is also an excellent and again quite steep hill to the right of the junction between High Divide and Welcome Pass that is unnamed. It is worth the climb! With all three trails combined, my round-trip was roughly 22 miles. It’s all excellent and very worthwhile!

Snow Starts on the relatively easy to follow ridge from 5100ft to the switchback at 5700. From there, the traverse is in good condition until you get to about 5900 and take the "right" up to the summit....which is a steep, consolidated snow slope. Snowpack would have been good for crampons + iceaxe in the morning, but I turned back at this point. Wildflowers and birds were everywhere, and the views are wonderful on the way down. Great early season recommendation by the Glacier Glacier Public Service Center Rangers.

I'm amazed there are so few reviews. This was possibly the most spectacular view I have ever experienced! Forgot my phone on the hike so sorry no pics. Killer hike but fairly short to the pass, 3- 4 miles, then it's all view no matter where you roam. Peaks every which way you turn. the snow made it that much more spectacular. There was no snow on the hill climb. That would have made it impossible. We went on a mostly sunny day. I will come back.

Very snow heavy about 2.5 miles in - amazing view at the top though. Incline the whole way up. and lost the trail - needed to follow tracks and map. Slid down on my butt for the first two miles back down. Was a fun hike but difficult with the snow

2 months ago

The road to the trail head has a large patch of snow covering it still which our low clearance car couldn’t take so we walked the 2.4 miles to the trail head. The majority of the road is dry though. The trail is beautiful, quite steep then hits a lot of snow around 3500 ft. We followed someone’s trail through the snow but lost them at around 4100. Since we weren’t familiar with the trail we turned around. We probably were close to the clearing but snowshoeing started to become more difficult as the snow was very soft and we would slide on steeper sections. We then attempted to go to the old lookout but also too snowed in and didn’t see a trail. All in all it was a lot of fun, our first time snowshoeing on a trail like this.

We got about halfway up before getting into the snow. By about mile 4 the snow was up to our hips and we were all tuckered out. We would have gone farther if we'd had our snowshoes.

Up, up, up. The hike lives up to its name - Excelsior "ever upward". But so worth it at the top. 360 degree views including Mt. Baker.

11 months ago

This is our 4th hike up Excelsior Pass in the past eight weeks ... moving higher as snow disappeared. Yesterday we made it to the Peak. Beautiful and few bugs.

11 months ago

Trail is in good condition and no snow even on the last scramble.

All Trails and WTA list both the distance and elevation change different from one another. Be prepared for 11 mile round trip with 4000 feet of elevation change if you want to finish this trail.

11 months ago

Good climbing trail, a cardio builder. Took us around two hours 15 minutes to high divide. As far as climbing trails go, not too shabby.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I wanted to head up to Mt Baker for a mid week hike and I called the Galcier Service Center and said I was looking for a tough hike with no special gear required that would take me to a high elevation. This hike was a perfect match. YOU HAVE TO GO ALL THE WAY UP THOUGH! Apparently the maintained trail ends at about 5100' and its a great view. The hike is mostly in a nice forest with a very nice trail. Then you pop out and start to see the sky. This section is really overgrown and if there happens to be any rain you will be soaked just from the contact of the brush. The hike to this point is about three out of five starts. For that five start experience you should continue to the top, which you think you might see but its actually hiding just behind that peak.

After the maintained trail ends there is some snow on the trail but where its flat and the trail is easy to find. Out footprints going were already hard to see on the return down. After about 15 minutes of hiking from the 5100' level the trail takes you into a valley and there is a crossing where there is a small section of no snow to cross, even though we did cross where there was snow. There are a few switchbacks then the trail goes straight up to the left side of the ridge that you can see. On this ridge you now see Yellow Aster Butte and Winchester Mountain. There are total 360 degree views. Once you reach this ridge its just a casual walk compared to what you just climbed to the summit.

In about 20 minutes you will be on the top of Goat Mountain. This part if very flat and a great place to relax.

Overall, all you need is water, sunblock and poles and some confidence to make this hike a great journey. I think it took about four hours up with a stop for lunch and photos and about three hours down for a total of seven hours RT. This hike has some incredible photo opportunities so make sure you dont miss anything.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

NF-32 is passable in a sedan, but go slowly to avoid potholes. The trail is in good condition but be prepared for snowfields below the summit. There are several minor creek crossings but all offer dry passings. Be mindful to stay on trail during the final extremely steep push to the summit. It is very easy to mistake the higher and closer peak on the right as the trail summit. However, this peak quickly becomes inaccessible due to brush and loose rock.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The gravel road to the trailhead has some deep potholes, but nothing a sedan can't either handle slowly or navigate around. Parking was no problem, although I arrived at almost 3pm on a Wednesday. The fully-maintained trail does start steep, moderate for a bit, then steepen up again. The last 100 yards were the greatest challenge with melting snow, mud and muddy terrain on the steepest incline of the trek. We didn't fully summit because there was enough snow and wind to make it dangerous. Views were spectacular with most of the major peaks in sight. Clouds covered the rest. Plenty of meltwater waterfalls along the way to keep the dog cool and hydrated. I'd say maybe every 10-15min she got a drink, because most of the trail switchbacks through the streams.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

27 May. Some snow closer to the top which we weren't prepared for so we turned around early

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Great trail to snowshoe, well marked and easy to follow until just before leaving the forest into the upper bowl. Really grateful for my heel lifts though. Great views at the top!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Beautiful beyond my expectations

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Extremely enjoyable. Not for those with chest pain or chain smokers. Great trail

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We day hiked from base camp at Mirror lake, down the Cold Creek Trail to Twin Lakes, then up to Mount Catherine and back on the PCT to Mirror. The hike from Mirror to Twin Lakes was super steep, and tons of downed trees. Very slow going. The trail back up to the Mt. Catherine trailhead was much better. BTW, check the WTA site or a GreenTrails map for updated trails as All-trails doesn't show the proper route to Mt Catherine.

Monday, June 20, 2016

kicked my butt but i did and going again

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

This is the Goat Mountain trail north of Mt Baker, not Goat Lake as described in another review and it is something like 11 miles round trip to reach the actual summit. The official trail ends on the ridge around 5100ft and was still snow covered this weekend but is melting quickly. I continued on from the ridge and made it to just below the west summit and enjoyed some great views of surrounding peaks. The scramble above the main lookout ridge became pretty steep and narrow in places with several snow crossings but offers some great views.

Unfortunately when I went it was too foggy to see the lakes, but I'd definitely recommend this hike!! Super beautiful and not too hard

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Incline pretty much all the way up but what a great hike! At least two waterfalls to be seen along this hike.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The best hike I've been on in a long time! The views are absolutely spectacular and definitely worth the climb. The hike in the woods is a pretty stead incline the whole way but definitely doable. One you get to the openness of the mountain, there is lots of snow and a great deal of an incline. The climb to the peak is worth it! We started at 9:30AM and stumbled across some snow in the woods but it wasn't too icy or slippery. We made it to the top of the peak around 1PM and stayed for about an hour eating lunch and enjoying the breathtaking view and made it to the bottom a little before 4:30PM.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Loved this hike, did it about a year ago. It has two trail options and I recommend taking the Lower Elliott trail on the way up as it runs along the river and you can see the mini falls. Take the Upper Elliott on the way back as it has some view points that are great later in the day. There is nothing difficult although you do cross a couple creeks they were low enough in early July to hop from rock to rock. There are camp grounds when you reach the lake. The lake opens up to a gorgeous view of the mountain peak sticking up. Bugs were minimal and trail was relatively empty early on the weekend. On the way down it was becoming busier so if you want seclusion head out early morning. I took my dog and it was good hike for him with nothing to challenging.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

For a rare hiker, this is a more rigorous trail. It starts off with four miles of rather steep wooded switchbacks. There are no great views here, but the vast variety of foliage and fungi will keep one entertained. There's also a few visits to the creek which cascades down rocky surfaces. The meadows that follow offer quite a rewarding experience after the seemingly unending switchbacks. Beautiful flowers, nice hillsides, and pretty decent views from here. The views offered by this trail cannot be fully appreciated without scaling the initial peak of the Highline Divide. From there, you will get what I have been told as the best 360 degree view on that trail of all the valleys, peaks, and mountains (Shuksan, Baker) around. I'd say going up and down was rather torturous, but that is to be blamed upon my lack of physical fitness and my whiny hiking partner. In the end, the views really did pay off!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Excelsior is AWESOME! There were sooo many wildflowers everywhere once you reach the valley. Keep hiking until you reach the sign pointing to Damfino lakes and instead take a right to the highest peak. Once you reach the top there's a phenomenal 360 degree view of Baker, Shuksan, and all of the valleys. We ended up hiking about 15 miles easy and there was STILL so much to see.. not enough time in the day! It is absolutely gorgeous. We only ran into one other hiker, granted it was on a Monday. Gets a little chilly at the top even if the sun is blasting so try and pack a light extra layer. The biggest huckleberries you have ever seen, makes for a tasty snack! Blueberries too! Highly highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

alot of snow ,3 feet in places but made it with my 14 year old daughter

This trail olnly gains about 400 feet in the first half a mile. After that, it's about 2600 feet on a stair master. On average you gain a foot for every 4 feet with much of it significantly steeper than that. The view is fantastic but the trail is just as tough coming and going. The meadows at the top give you plenty of room to have a seat and soak it all in.

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