Outdoors

Hike of the week: DIABLO LAKE

Hike description: Two massive hydroelectric dams, a suspension bridge, mountains, some canyons and, of course, a lake that is much prettier than its name would suggest. All this and a trail that goes up and then down so you also go up and then down on the way out.

The trail starts out along Sourdough Creek and takes you across Deer Creek several times, as well as across numerous rock-filled dry creek beds. Talus slopes and a high trail along the edge of the Skagit River gorge are reasons not to hurry along this trail. The scenery is another. Even if you think you can chew gum and walk upstairs at the same time, you should take your time to watch your footing and then stop to take in the vistas. That way you can enjoy the views and not take a misstep. At 1.5 miles, you will pass a spur trail on the right to a view spot in an area cleared for the power line. Another clearing at 2.5 miles offers views of Jack Mountain behind Ross Dam. From here the trail descends. The trail crosses several creeks and passes another trail to another Ross Dam viewpoint.

The reward for persevering is the suspension bridge across the Skagit River at the end of the trail. Suspension bridges always are interesting and some of us even think they are fun to cross. This one takes you to your lunch spot at the end of the trail and a well-deserved rest.

Directions

: Drive Highway 20 (the North Cascades Highway) about 20 miles east from Marblemount to the intersection with Diablo Road. Cross the Gorge Lake Bridge. In another 1.5 miles turn left onto Diablo Dam Road (signed for the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center). Follow this narrow road across the Diablo Dam and in 1.2 miles come to the road end and the trailhead.

Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)

Miles round-trip: 7.5

Elevation: 1,400 feet

Best time of year: April to November

Map: Green Trails Daiblo No. 48

Pass: There is no entrance fee for the North Cascades National Park Service Complex

Also: The 10 essentials and adequate food, water and clothing, should always be in your pack, along with a small trash bag so you can practice Leave No Trace wilderness travel. Pet regulations can be confusing. Be sure to check before heading out for the day with your pets in tow.

Info: North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 360-854-7200, www.nps.gov/noca; “Best Hikes with Kids Western Washington and The Cascades,” and “Day Hiking North Cascades,” both Mountaineers Books.

Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.thenewstribune.com/hiking.

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