The past few weeks we have been choosing days and places that would provide some cool, but not rainy, weather and fall colors. One hike took us to Cottonwood and Mirror Lakes in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Park area. The Northwest Forest Pass or a Senior park pass is required there. That day also included a stop at Franklin Falls near Denny Creek. And, of course, the obligatory stop at the candy store on the way home for marzipan and dark chocolates. Then we missed a week due to weather and other commitments. The next outing was to Beaver Plant and Ashland Lakes on the Mountain Loop Highway, Discover Pass required. Both hikes were approximately 4 miles round trip.
Lots of solitude, we saw 5 people and one dog on the hike to Cottonwood and Mirror Lakes. We left the car about 1/2 mile from the trail head and walked up a steep, very eroded, rutty, rocky stretch of road, perhaps only suitable for an ATV to attempt, before entering the almost covered with vegetation trail. Both lakes were calm and had wonderful reflections. No facilities at the trail head or at the lakes.
The trail later opened up in places like the one shown and was in relatively good condition.
Weathered sign for Cottonwood Lake, Mirror Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail
Fireweed gone to seed
The hillside along the trail to Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake living up to its name . . .
Looking down from the Pacific Crest Trail on the forest colors from near Mirror Lake
The perfect lunch spot to enjoy the view
Tree ablaze with color along the Kachess highway
The same day we took a slight detour along the Kachess Highway to admire the beautiful autumn leaves. Most of the trees were vine maples with their green, yellow, orange, and bright red colors.
Bob has been making trips along the Kachess Highway for the past 15 years to see the colors and knew exactly where to stop to get the maximum displays.
Franklin Falls with rainbow
After the drive along the Kachess Highway we stopped for a short walk to Franklin Falls and timed it perfectly to see a rainbow through the mists. Amazingly the rainbow dipped into the pool at the bottom of the falls as well.
Trail marker to Beaver Plant & Ashland Lakes
Two weeks later we hiked to Beaver Plant and Ashland Lakes on the Mountain Loop. This trail requires a Discover Pass. It was well kept but much of the trail is over boggy areas and there are many boardwalks and a few stairs. The camping areas have wooden platforms for tents. It is like the rain forest with lush, greenery. We did see a little bit of melting snow along the sides of the trail. We only met 8 people and one dog this day. The limited wildlife sightings included a dragonfly near the lake shore; a waterstrider bug, I had never seen one except on TV nature shows, a Douglas squirrel dashing across the trail, and a curious chipmunk who came close when we were having lunch then darted away. The State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has had more funds to provide amenities than the federal US Forest Service, therefore, there are outhouses at the trail head and at each of the camping areas by the lakes.
Bright red Bunchberry on a bed of moss
Beaver Plant Lake
There are lots of boardwalks along this trail
Lily pads in Ashland Lake
Typical fall colors along the shores of Ashland Lake
The view from our lunch spot
We were able to have our lunch sitting on the dry platform behind the sign and enjoy another lakeside view