Autumn in Skagit Valley and North Cascades

One doesn’t normally associate the northwestern corner of the US with fall colors. New England the Mid-Atlantic states in the northeast are usually the focus of any autumn photo spread.

But autumn in Skagit Valley and North Cascades is not too shabby.

The valley and the rivers make wonderful spots for fall.

Up the valley a bit along the Baker and Skagit Rivers fall colors abound. Salmon spawn in the fall. The entire valley is lit up and on display!

The 2020 Washington State Night Sky Calendar is now on sale! Get your copy here.

The main contributors to Fall here in the North Cascades are the blueberry/huckleberry bushes, which carpet the mountains in bright reds and the larch, who’s green needles turn bright orange in the first week or October. . .

North Cascades Photo Tours are also available!

Larch grow new green needles each spring, and in early October they turn orange and fall off! The elevation of the larch varies in Western Washington, usually you can find the larch between 5,000 and 7,000 ft elevation.

Fine Art Prints as well as Canvas Wraps are also available in a wide range of sizes and frames. Here is the Gallery Page.

Fall Colors of the North Cascades

Baker River Trail – Fall Colors

The Baker River Trail is at its best in the fall. The cool, clean, crisp air refresh your mind while the bright colors enliven the soul.

The trail is easy to get to, just follow the Baker Lake Road north from Highway 20 to its end (You need a NW Forest Pass to park). The trail starts right there and meanders along the west side of the river. The leaves on the ground create a magic carpet for your feet.

You’ll pass some huge grand trees, actually not just trees but patriarchs of the forest, old wise creatures standing guard over the River.

After only a quarter mile there is a suspension bridge spanning the azure waters. Go out on the span for wonderful views downstream as the river bends and the late afternoon light illuminates the colors on the east bank.

Continuing along your path the trail approaches the river at several points where you can easily scramble down 5 or 6 feet of embankment out on to gravel bars affording magnificent views of the wild river. Fall brings salmon to spawn and you can see their bright red bodies darting and splashing.

But don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself!

If you’d like to go on a Guided Fall Photo Tour, here are all the details!

Prusik Peak: Which version is best?

This image of Prusik Peak and Gnome Tarn (Tarn = snow melt pond) I captured this October in the Enchantments, part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, in Washington State.

Here is the original. Not too bad…this view gives a wide perspective and includes the bottom of the tarn.

Prusik Peak, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Prusik Peak, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Here is the first crop, cutting out part of both top and bottom, creating a panorama of sorts.

Prusik Peak, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Prusik Peak, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

And here is the close crop, focusing in on the peak and reflection.

Prusik Peak, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Prusik Peak, Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Do you prefer one over the others?

Please let me know your thoughts!

Thank you,


Prusik Peak in the Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Prusik Peak in the fall is an alluring sight. The larches turn bright orange and if the weather co-operates the blue skies punctuate the landscape.
I luckily won the lottery for a permit this fall and last week I spent 5 days in the Enchantments, exploring and ogling the colors.

Prusik Peak above Perfection Lake

Prusik Peak above Perfection Lake

Prusik Peak and Gnome Tarn

Prusik Peak and Gnome Tarn

Prusik Peak Reflected

Prusik Peak Reflected

Prusik Peak and Stones

Prusik Peak and Stones


The Enchantments is an area with in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, near Leavenworth, Washington.

Crammed into a small area there are myriad lakes, tarns and jagged peaks. One of the many allures of the Enchantments are the larches which turn bright orange and yellow in the fall. The juxtaposition of (hopefully) blue skies, green spruce, orange larch and as we encountered, white snow, is a wonder on the eyes!

To camp overnight requires a permit. To get a permit involves entering a lottery and hoping for good luck!

Earlier this year I decided to apply for the permits and was lucky enough to win a permit for October. However the weather at the start of October was horrific, high winds, a veritable deluge of rain and in the upper alpine zones, snow. By the time my allotted time came around things started to brighten up, and so, off I went.

enchatments 1em Parking area

enchatments 2em Foot Bridge at the start…

enchatments 3em Fall Colors on the way up

I managed to recruit two hardy souls to come along and we headed over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth and on up to the Snow Lakes Trail head. the first days hike was a little more than 10 miles and 4,000feet of elevation gain and we camped out on a sand bar along the shore of Upper Snow Lake.
enchatments 7em Upper Snow Lake
Day two brought partly sunny skies and we hoisted our heavy packs for the 4 mile hike up to Lake Viviane. The trail was steep in spots and there was much snow. The area around the lake was very windy, and it took some time to find a flat, sheltered place for the tent.
enchatments 20em Lake Viviane

enchatments 11em Lake Viviane

enchatments 19em Lake Viviane
The snow was as much as 2 to 3 feet deep in places. But so many people had traveled over the path that hiking was relatively easy.

At night I tried a few starry sky shots…
enchatments 14em

enchatments 12em

The 3rd day we awoke early to more sun and clouds and headed further up, on towards the Upper Lakes.
enchatments 37em

enchatments 22em

enchatments 27em

enchatments 34em

The mix of clouds, sky, larch and snow was perfect.
enchatments 41em

enchatments 24em

enchatments 26em

enchatments 36em

enchatments 40em

Leprechaun Lake was especially photogenic!
enchatments 32em

enchatments 30em

enchatments 31em

By late afternoon the skies looked decidedly dark and so we made our way back down to Upper Snow Lake and back to the car the next day…

I am definitely planning on entering the lottery again for the next years hiking season!