North Cascades National Park was easily my favorite national park in Washington. From Seattle, it was about a 2.5 hour drive, and along the drive you start to see the massive Cascade Mountain Range. At this visitor shop, I purchased my National Park Passport, and received my first stamp in my passport. I plan to make it to all National Parks, eventually. I asked one of the park rangers what trail they recommended doing, if they only had a day here. It was extremely overwhelming to try to pick a trail, because this national park has over 394 miles of hiking trails. She recommended Thunder Knob trail, which was about a 20 minute drive from the shop and 3.6 miles in distance with a great overlook of the turquoise Diablo Lake. This trail did not disappoint, and it was my first hiking trail on this trip to do solo. I was eager for the climb and peace.
This trail head was in the middle of a campsite. You can see the glacier water that ran alongside the campsites. It was so crazy to see people sitting at their campsites facing the water. I will return to North Cascades to camp and explore more. I can only imagine the peaceful sleep one would get camping beside the running glacier water.
The glacial water up close! This trail was one of my favorites I have hiked. After you get through the water, it takes you to a much greener part of the mountain.
Ferns, moss, and trees were everywhere. The trail takes you through a series of ascending switch backs. After you get through the switch backs, you reach a point in the trail where you see a great overlook of the Cascade mountains covered in glaciers!
I was surrounded by mountains, and it was such a peaceful moment. I asked some hikers to snap a quick shot of me on their way down. The trail levels out for a while, and brings you to a swampy area. Cascades has more glaciers than any national park in the lower 48 states, so there is water everywhere. After passing the swamp area, the trail takes you through another series of switchbacks before reaching the top. This is the view at the top of the trail; it was well worth the climb. I didn’t mind sitting on the bench either!
Not only was the view breathtaking, but there was also an awesome breeze at the top. When I arrived to the top, I met the nicest couple and we discussed our love for National Parks. They made really awesome suggestions for Olympic National Park (the destination for the next day), and they were both doctors that gave me great advice for the future! Prior to my visit to Washington, I had never seen glacier water. Every time I saw a glimpse of it peaking through the trees, I got excited. Its color was even more bold than the Destin, Florida waters I had seen before. If you head back towards the visitor center, you see a sign for the environmental center, where you can see the dam of Diablo Lake.
There is parking available at the environmental center, and then you can go check out the water up close! I sat on a log beside the water without cell phone service, enjoying the peace and quiet of Cascades National park. This was the hottest park of the three in Washington, but many people opted to get in the water!
Here are a couple of shots from the look out points around the park! Clearly, hiking is where it’s at! The mosquitoes weren’t as bad here as they were at Rainier and Olympic, but I’d still recommend bringing both sunscreen and mosquito spray. I also drank the most water at this park due to the temperature. This park is massive with lots of territory to explore. I am grateful for the day spent here, however a day is not enough. I guess I will have to take another vacation here, where I can camp along the water and explore this park and all of its naturally occurring beauty.