After disembarking from our Alaskan cruise ship in Vancouver, British Columbia, we drove down to Burlington, Washington with the intention of hiking in North Cascades National Park over the next couple of days. Since this was mid-June we knew that our options would be quite limited as the best hikes are at the higher elevations, and therefore would be impassable due to snow. Because it rained on our first day we were left with only one day to do any hiking in the park. Our one and only hike, however, was almost a complete bust. After consulting with a park ranger that morning we decided that the hike to Monogram Lake would be our best option. As you read further below you’ll discover that we decided to abandon that route, and instead, opted to head towards Lookout Mountain.
The Monogram Lake Trail begins in the Cascade River Valley, and immediately climbs steeply through a lush temperate rain forest of towering western hemlocks. Just a few yards up the trail we saw this albino banana slug:
As we climbed higher we could also hear the periodic calls of varied thrushes’ emanating from the surrounding woods. Their distinctive call sounds like a referee’s whistle.
Roughly one-third of a mile above that stream crossing we reached a split in the trail. To the left is the path that travels to Lookout Mountain. We turned right to continue along the Monogram Lake Trail - towards our original destination. After about a third-of-a-mile the trail finally entered North Cascades National Park. Up to this point we had been traveling through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
website warns that hikers should limit the number of people on the catwalk to just two per side in order to prevent them from collapsing. The original lookout was built in 1929, but was replaced in 1962.
Although this is a pretty good hike for the early summer season, I would highly recommend waiting to visit the North Cascades until at least mid-July so that you can enjoy some of the much better hikes this region has to offer. I would recommend looking into hikes such as the Maple Pass Loop, Cascade Pass / Sahale Arm, or Ptarmigan Ridge and Skyline Divide in the Mt. Baker area - among many others.
Trail: Monogram Lake Trail / Lookout Mountain
RT Distance: 9.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 4420 feet
Max Elevation: 5699 feet
TH Location: Monogram Lake Trailhead (near Marblemount)
Map: North Cascades National Park Trails Illustrated Map
100 Classic Hikes in Washington is a collection of 100 hikes in the Alpine Lakes, North Cascades, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, South Cascades and Olympics regions. The guide features color maps and photos on high-quality (recycled) paper. At-a-glance information for easy browsing includes the following: mileage, suggested duration in hours or days, high point, elevation gain, seasonality, topo map codes as well as additional contact information.