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Gothic Basin via Weden Creek Trail #724

Our Hiking Time: 7h
Total Ascent: 3700ft
Highest Point: 6000ft
Total Distance: 10.5 miles
Location: N 47° 58.9980, W 121° 27.9240
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Difficulty: Hard

Nathan's PhotoLast week we headed out to Barlow Pass and the Monte Cristo trail to explore Gothic Basin, a popular area filled with ice-carved lakes and rocky cliffs. Everything we’d seen and heard about this hike promised a beautiful lunar landscape with big views, meadows and alpine lakes and Gothic Basin did not disappoint.

This is a challenging hike that is not for everyone, but Gothic Basin is well worth the effort. The area is simply stunning. In the few weeks that Foggy Lake is melted out each year, its icy waters exude a gorgeous deep blue color. There are also a number of truly amazing campsites that offer privacy and choice views. We highly recommend this hike to anyone that is comfortable with the elevation gain along a moderately rough trail. Make sure to do a little research on the conditions in the basin before you go, as the experience is better if the area is melted out.

There's a lot more to Gothic Basin, and you can learn all about it in our book, Hiking Through History Washington.  You'll find a trail map, route descriptions, history, and more for this and many more hikes throughout the State. Help support hikingwithmybrother.com and the work we do by picking up a copy!

To get there, take I-5 North to Exit 194. Follow Highway 2 for about two miles. Stay in the left lane and merge onto Lake Stevens Highway 204. Follow for two miles to Highway 9. Take the left onto Highway 9 toward Lake Stevens. In just under two miles, you’ll reach Highway 92 to Granite Falls. Take a right and follow for about nine miles to the Mountain Loop Highway. Take the MLH for 31 miles to Barlow Pass. Park and find the gated Monte Cristo Road on the right side of the road, opposite the trailhead parking lot.

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Tonga Ridge Trail #1058 to Mount Sawyer

Our Hiking Time: 3h 30m
Total Ascent: 1200ft
Highest Point: 5480ft
Total Distance: 5.5 miles
Location: N 47° 40.0080, W 121° 13.4700
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

Nathan's Photo
We recently had a chance check out Tonga Ridge, one of the most popular ridge hikes along Highway 2. With long views and a gentle grade, it’s easy to see why Tonga Ridge attracts so many hikers, and now that we near the end of summer, the trail is likely to see more traffic than usual as huckleberry pickers flock to the slopes of Mt. Sawyer to harvest this year’s crop.

This is a great all-season trail that we recommend every hiker. Whether you’re looking for a snowshoe, springtime wildflowers, summer berry picking or autumn colors, Tonga Ridge delivers. The trail is also fairly easy and should be approachable for hikers of all ages and experience, which tends to draw in the crowds. You can expect to share the trail with a lot of other folks on this popular hike, and the limited parking at the trailhead can be challenge on a crowded day. If at all possible, try to hit Tonga Ridge on a weekday when traffic will be lighter.

There's a lot more to Tonga Ridge, and you can learn all about it in our book, Hiking Through History Washington.  You'll find a trail map, route descriptions, history, and more for this and many more hikes throughout the State. Help support hikingwithmybrother.com and the work we do by picking up a copy!

To get there, take Highway 2 out past Skykomish just beyond milepost 50. Take a right onto FR 68, also known as the Foss River Road. Continue for about three-and-a-half miles to a junction, taking a left onto FR 6830 and following it for almost seven miles to the signed 310 spur. Head right onto the spur and drive a little over a mile to the end of the road and the trailhead. -Nathan

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Vesper Peak via Sunrise Mine Trail #707

Our Hiking Time: 6h 45m
Total Ascent: 3900ft
Highest Point: 6214ft
Total Distance: 6.6 miles
Location: N 48° 0.7800, W 121° 31.0740
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Difficulty: Hard

Nathan's Photo
This week we headed out to the Mountain Loop Highway to take on Vesper Peak, one of the many hikes in the area that remain snowbound most of the year. The hike description hinted at stunning views, a lake, and perhaps traces of a mining operation, but cautioned that the route was difficult and a little treacherous. Vesper Peak delivered on both counts – we got our views, but our legs paid for them.

This hike is not for everyone. It is difficult, scaling over 4000ft in a little over three miles on rough trail. Some route finding skills are occasionally required, depending on how snow covered the trail is, and above Vesper Creek you can expect to encounter snow all year. With those caveats, we recommend this hike for strong hikers looking for a challenge. And, because it is difficult, there is a bit less traffic on the trail, so you can expect to enjoy the views in relative solace.

There's a lot more to Vesper Peak, and you can learn all about it in our book, Hiking Through History Washington.  You'll find a trail map, route descriptions, history, and more for this and many more hikes throughout the State. Help support hikingwithmybrother.com and the work we do by picking up a copy!

To get there, take I-5 North to Exit 194. Follow Highway 2 for about two miles. Stay in the left lane and merge onto Lake Stevens Highway 204. Follow for two miles to Highway 9. Take the left onto Highway 9 toward Lake Stevens. In just under two miles, you’ll reach Highway 92 to Granite Falls. Take a right and follow for about nine miles to the Mountain Loop Highway. Take the MLH for almost 29 miles to the Sunrise Mine Road No. 4065 on your right. Follow the gravel road just under two-and-a-half miles to the end of the road and trailhead. –Nathan

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