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After our attempt on Mt Baker, we wanted something small and easily completed -- a nice short-ish dayhike. Given that we were already in the Highway 20 corridor of the North Cascades, it made sense to pick something easily accessible from this area. I had pre-picked a short list of 'short' hikes some days before, and the one that was closest to us was a mountain called Hidden Lake Peak.

Hidden Lake Peak is a mountain just west of the Cascade Crest, in North Cascades National Park. It has a trail leading almost to it's summit, and also had a fun, scenic and easy scramble route to its summit. Although a steep climb with almost 4,000 feet of gain, it seemed problem-free and doable in half a day.
Hidden Lake Trailhead
After having a late breakfast at 'The Eatery' in Marblemount, we drove up the Cascade River Road, then turned onto the narrow, steep and switchbacking forest road that brought us to the hidden lake trailhead at 3,600 feet. Somewhat surprisingly for a weekday, there was a large group of hikers -- mostly young girls with a few adults -- at the trailhead (we would find out later that they were a church group bound for a lookout cabin not far from Hidden Lake Peak's summit).

We started off on the trail at around noon. Even though we'd had a cooling thundershower the night before, it was another hot and rainless day in the North Cascades, and in no time we were sweating pretty good. The trail initially leads up through some brush, then into a very nicely switchbacked section that leads up through shady open forest. The trail crossed over many little brooks and streams along the way.
Start of Trail
Open Forest Section
Good Trail Construction
The trail then breaks out into the open, emerging into a large stretch of thickly vegetated open meadow. When I say thickly vegetated, I mean it. Even though the trail was very obvious and well-defined, we had to push our way through thick, shoulder-height plants of all sorts. Jenn likened it to pushing one's way through a dense cornfield.
Emerging into Meadows
Super Thick Vegetation
Lower Flanks of HLP
The trail pushed through the thick vegetation, soon starting a steep series of switchbacks that led back and forth up the slope. There were an innumerable number of small houseflies everywhere, and we couldn't wait to get well above treeline and free of them. We passed many of the young girls of the church group, noting that they were each stoically tolerating a swarm of buzzing flies.

On the plus side, there were many beautiful wildflowers along the way.
Paintbrush in the Meadows
Beautiful Wildflowers
Distant Mt Baker
Eventually we reached the top of the switchbacks. The trail began a rising traverse towards Hidden Lake Peak (of which we could now see the lower flank), but this was not to be our path up. We were destined for the north ridge, where we would make a fun scramble ascent to the summit.

We located the boot path that my guidebook referenced, and followed it, climbing steeply upwards on heather slopes to the crest of the ridge between Hidden Lake Peak and nearby Sibley Peak. Caroline was finding the hot and (today humid) weather hard to deal with, and when we reached the ridgecrest, she stated that she would not be accompanying us to the summit.
Starting up climber's path
Up the climber's path
From the ridgecrest, a panorama of the interior of the North Cascades opened up. A high overcast dulled the beauty of the view somewhat, but it was still impressive. Looking south, we could see all the way up Hidden Lake Peak's north ridge to a suprisingly pointy-looking little summit.
North Cascades Interior
Granite Bedrock
Jenn on ridgecrest
After a short break, we started our way up the north ridge. We first had to climb up and down a steep little forested knob on the ridge, and then started the main ascent. It was fun -- the rock was big slabs and chunks of super solid granite, all jumbled about in every which way. In general, it was all quite solidly in place -- a welcome change from the loose crumbly stuff on Mount Baker.
North Ridge of HLP
Surmounting knob
Hiking through Granite Slabs
Earthy groove
Blocky Granite
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