Early Season Magic on the High Country Trail
October 19th, 2012 in Trips, Trails, & Tours
All this early snow has us thinking about skiing, of course! Without a doubt our favorite early season ski tour is the High Country trail. This very popular trail follows the continuation of the High Camp access road for another 1 1/2 miles beyond the lodge and cabins. Since the road is a pretty smooth surface it needs to have only 8-10 inches of snow coverage in order to enjoy a sublime first-of-the-season ski experience. Generally by mid-November we have strapped on our skis at least once and skied this three-mile “out and back” route to Picnic Point, located at the gateway to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. The early season powder always delivers the promise of another great winter high in the mountains of North Central Washington!
The High Country trail leaves High Camp in a northerly direction, briefly passing through a mature forest before breaking into open country. Directly uphill on the left are the slopes of the aptly named Southern Exposure, ideal for both family sledding and beginning turning on backcountry skis. Straight ahead is a well-marked junction to Okey Dokey and Roundabout, two other close-in popular trails. A sharp switchback now sends the trail almost due west, soon reaching the end-point of the Powderpuff downhill run and then after turning north again, passing the turn-off to Northern Exposure. Following a brief climb, the High Country trail arrives at magnificent Glacier Peak Viewpoint, with its commanding vista of many rugged peaks to the north, as well as the first close-up view of the Scottish Lakes and High Meadows terrain. Continuing uphill from Glacier Peak Viewpoint, the trail soon passes the take-off points for Fun Forest, Powderpuff, and Ridgetop. The final half-mile to Picnic Point almost always offers great powder, as that section of the trail is well-protected from the rays of the sun. If there hasn’t been too much recent new snow, an actual picnic table helps Picnic Point live up to its name, and is a nice amenity at the end of the trail.
Don and Chris Hanson, High Camp owners since 1994