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Friday, June 22, 2012 - Page updated at 08:00 p.m.

Hike of the week | Breathtaking Fourth of July Pass good for camping, too

By Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times staff reporter

Tumbling streams with waterfalls, snow-capped mountain peaks and old growth trees are just some of the spectacular sights that day hikers and backpackers will encounter along Fourth of July Pass, located in the North Cascades National Park.

The trek covers 11.2 miles round trip, and is just a short distance off State Route 20 (the North Cascades Highway) with an elevation gain of 2,400 feet to the highest point of 3,500 feet.

The hike's first part begins on the Thunder Creek Trail at the Colonial Creek Campground, and is an easy walk along nearby Thunder Creek.

Just past the bridge comes the hardest part of the hike. Here you follow the Panther Creek Trail to Fourth of July Pass on the left (an easterly direction), which becomes a grind as a fairly steep climb pushes you on through a thick forest cover.

The end reward once you reach Fourth of July Camp are the great views (bring a camera) of Colonial Peak, Snowfield Peak, Diablo Lake and Neve Glacier. For backpackers this campsite is an ideal place to stay with most spots having fabulous views.

A recent report on the North Cascades National Park website (www.nps.gov/noca/index.htm) indicates Fourth of July Camp is clear of trees, and the campsites and toilet are snow free. It is also snow-free beyond camp to the east for three-quarters of a mile, but past that are blown down trees and snowfields to access. Route finding is required to reach the pass, and continue to Panther Creek.

Before going to Fourth of July Pass remember: No dogs are allowed, as this is in a national park; overnight permits are required (available at the Marblemount Ranger Station, call 360-873-4500); bug repellent for pesky biting insects; and trailhead parking and access are free. No Northwest Forest Pass is required.

For current trip reports on this trail, go to www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/fourth-of-july-pass.

Directions: From I-5 north of Mount Vernon take Anacortes-Burlington Exit, and then east to Marblemount. From Marblemount stay on State Route 20 heading east for another 24 miles. Just past Milepost 130, turn right into the Colonial Creek Campground to the trailhead at the day-use area.

Other upcoming outdoor events:

• The Mount St. Helens Ranger District is looking for volunteer campground hosts with a motorhome or travel trailer this summer at Lower Falls campground on the Upper North Fork Lewis River on Forest Road 90, 30 miles east of Cougar. Hosts would assist with visitor information, restroom cleaning and light campground maintenance. Each would be provided with a free campsite, an identifying sign, training materials and information brochures for distribution. Laundry facilities are nearby. Reimbursement for propane will be provided. This is a 30-day commitment and a full season is optional. For details, call Diana Perez at 360-449-7843.

Lincoln City on the Oregon coast is hosting their Summer Kite Festival at 10 a.m. this Saturday and Sunday. The event feature pros and amateurs displaying their kite flying skills. Activities include kite-building workshops, pro demonstrations, children's kite parade, and a Saturday Night Fly with lighted kites and live music from the Ivie Meziere Band. For details, call 866-730-0637 or visit www.RVontheGo.com.

• The International Federation of Fly Fishers is hosting an International Fly Fishing Fair July 12-14 at the Spokane Convention Center. See more than 90 workshops and clinics on casting, fly tying, and on-water fishing techniques taught by well-known instructors. Expert fly-fishing authors will also be signing books, and giving presentations and workshops. In addition, more than 110 fly tiers will be demonstrating their artistic work.

The fair will feature exhibits with the latest in gear, outfitters, conservation information and other topics. There will be a casting pond to try the latest rod and reel as well kids' activities. For details, visit www.fedflyfisher.org.

• The Northwest Mountain School in Leavenworth offers a variety of climbing programs and extended mountain climbs throughout the summer. For details, visit www.mountainschool.com or call 509-548-5823.

• Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters is offering a beginning fly casting class 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 26. Cost is $50. Instructors are Darrel Martin, certified by the Federation of Fly-Fishers and the Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors and Michael Martin. For details, call 253-835-4100.

• The Washington Parks and Recreation summer natural and cultural history interpretive programs at Larrabee State Park, 245 Chuckanut Drive in Bellingham. Dr. Marilyn Boysen will lead the programs June 30, July 14, Aug. 11 and Sept. 1. A Discover Pass is required. For details, visit www.parks.wa.gov/events.

• As the weather warms up and many are headed out for boating on the water it is a reminder that all children 12 and under are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket on vessels less than 19-feet long. There must also be a life jacket on board for each person older than age 12.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is offering low cost life jackets July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Evans Pool, 7201 E. Green Lake Dr. North in Seattle. Cost for infant to youth large is $20, and for teens to adults is $30. For details, call 206-684-7440 or email at diane.jones@seattle.gov.

• The Orvis Store in Bellevue at 10223 N.E. 10th Street is offering free fly-fishing lessons through July. Each class consists of one hour of casting instruction followed by one hour of rigging. Attendees will receive $25 coupon off any purchase of $50 or more toward Orvis gear. Each participant will also get a free Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers membership. For details, visit www.orvis.com/ff101.

• The Washington Waterfowl Association in the Yakima Valley is hosting the Washington State Duck Calling Championship 7 a.m. Aug. 25 at Columbia Park in Kennewick. For details, call 509-786-9196.

• The state Department of Natural Resources has opened the Tiger Mountain State Forest mountain bike trails. The trails provide mountain biking opportunities for all skill levels. The trails are located at the Iverson Railroad Grade, Northwest Timber and Preston Railroad Grade trails. For details, visit http://tinyurl.com/tigermtn.

• The U.S. Forest Service has released an updated online wildflower map with hundreds of locations on national forests for prime wildflower viewing.

The website which includes more than 10,000 plant images and information about the aesthetic, recreational, biological, medicinal, and economic values of native plants. For details, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/viewing/index.php.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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