Heather - Maple Pass Loop
The Heather - Maple Pass Loop is a trail in the North Cascades of Washington. Choose your direction based on whether you like to conquer the steep portion at the beginning or end of your hike. Counter-clockwise is the popular choice and means a gentle climb toward the passes above Lake Ann with stunning views of Black Peak ahead of you.
While traveling east on Highway 20, you'll find the parking lot for this trail shortly before Washington Pass on the west side of the highway. A Northwest Forest Pass is required here, since this corridor is on national forest land. The trail begins at the south end of the parking lot.
Heading east from the parking lot, you'll encounter one switchback before contouring southeast toward Lake Ann. At the 1.25 mile mark, you can optionally take a 0.6 mile detour to the shores of Lake Ann. As you continue past this junction, the trail climbs through wildflower patches toward Heather Pass, where a spur trail takes climbers to Black Peak.
From Heather Pass, the trail turns left and contours toward Maple Pass. Marvel in the views as you gain the ridge that marks the border of the North Cascades National Park. Shortly after Maple Pass you'll hit the hike high-point, a shoulder of Frisco Mountain.
The trail continues to the northeast from here, following a ridge between Lake Ann and Rainy Lake. Near the end, a few switchbacks drop you back down to Lake Ann's outflow Bridge Creek before the trail heads north to the finish.
Take care when hiking this route early in the year. Snow can be found on the high passes into July, and could be hazardous on some of the steeper slopes.
Started around 8am on what seemed like a not very busy morning. Did the loop in clockwise fashion as I like to get the steep part out of the way, and also hike the opposite direction of the majority. Weather was good and some larches still in full gold dress. Clear views to Black Peak, Glacier Peak, etc. No snow on trail yet, but some areas of frozen ground. It became pretty evident that it was indeed a busy day on the trail as we were on the 2nd half, coming down beside Lake Ann. The parking lot overflowed out onto Highway 20. Early start was perfect. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/maple-pass Gain: 2000 ft. Highest Point: 6650 ft. 7.2 miles, roundtrip