- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - From the top of Mount Dickerman, I spun slowly, taking in the view. As I turned, I saw Mount Baker, then Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound and back to Mount Baker. In between, were countless peaks and ridges and jagged bits of rock that I wished I could name.

I had been planning to hike Dickerman, in the Mount Baker Snoqualmire National Forest off of the Mountain Loop, for years. When I was new to hiking, I was intimidated by the elevation gain, 3,950 feet. I made Dickerman a goal, but even once I knew I was capable of hiking it, I held off. What if I couldn’t do it?

Recently, I got over myself and went for a hike up Dickerman. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? I might have to turn around. I wasn’t going to lose my license to hike.

I made it, without incident and with only the usual amount of huffing and puffing. It was challenging, but pleasantly so, and the views from the top more than rewarded the effort.

The trail to Dickerman is pretty straightforward. From the parking lot, it starts to switchback almost immediately, and it continues doing so, through thick forest with few views, for about the first half of the hike. Much of the trail is rocky or rooty, with some big steps. It’s a well-made trail, though, and while the climb is steady, it’s never brutally steep.

From time to time, you get peak-a-boo views. The first real views open up about two-thirds of the way up the hike. The trail passes through a couple of meadows offering some pretty vistas. They’re a great spot to pause if you need a break or a snack. Don’t give up, though. The rest of the trail goes quickly and you’re soon on top.

There’s lots of room to wander around, taking in the views and settling in for lunch. I had a hard time deciding where to look, but finally cozied up against a rock with a face-on view of Glacier Peak. It’s the closest volcano to where I live, and I’m rather fond of it.

I spent a long time on the summit, soaking in the sun before heading down. The long descent was tiring on my legs, but I was too happy to care much.

I had finally hiked Dickerman. I felt like if there was a test to earn the status of “Official Northwest Hiker” I would pass with honors.

If you go:

Roundtrip, the hike is 8.2 miles with 3,950 miles of gain.

To get there: From Granite Falls, head east on the Mountain Loop Highway. Once you pass the Verlot ranger station, the trailhead is about 16 miles ahead on the left. Northwest Forest Pass Required.

Fall is an excellent time for hiking. The air is cool, the bugs are gone and trails are quieter. Just be prepared for weather to change quickly and bring the 10 essentials.

Perry Creek Trail

This trail leaves from the same trailhead as Mount Dickerman. Matt Riggen, visitor information assistant for the Darrington Ranger District, said this trail offers bright big leaf maples on the lower trail and huckleberries and big views higher up. For those who want a shorter trip, Riggen says a waterfall about 3 miles in is a convenient turnaround spot. 10.5 miles, 3,400 feet of gain.

Directions: From Granite Falls, head east on the Mountain Loop Highway. Once you pass the Verlot ranger station, the trailhead is about 16 miles ahead on the left. Northwest Forest Pass Required.

West Cady Ridge

This is one of several trails that leave from a trailhead at the N. Fork Skykomish. The trail climbs up to a ridge, with excellent views. If you’re up for a long day, you can go all the way to Benchmark Mountain, with 360-degree views. Up to 14.4 miles with 3,700 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: Follow U.S. 2 east to just before milepost 50. Turn left on Beckler Road/FS Road 65. Drive 15 miles and turn right on FS Road 63. The trailhead is 4.2 miles ahead.

Goat Lake

Riggen likes this hike in the fall, when the leaves start to fall off the alders on the upper trail option, opening up views. Be sure to keep your eyes on the ground, too. This is a great trail for bright mushrooms. The gentle gain makes this an easy hike. 10.4 miles, 1,400 feet of gain.

Directions: Head east on the Mount Loop Highway from Granite Falls. About 3.5 miles after the pavement ends, the trailhead is on the right.

Old Sauk Trail

Peter Forbes, the district ranger for Darrington Ranger District, calls the Old Sauk Trail “one of my favorite easy hikes.” The trail is nearly flat and follows the Sauk River, which comes in and out of sight as you stroll. It’s an easy walk for young kids. Six miles, 150 feet of gain.

Directions: From Highway 530, drive to Darrington and turn right (south) on the Mountain Loop Highway. The trail has two main access points, the first at 3.6 miles from the intersection of Highway 530 and the Mountain Loop Highway and another at 1.8 miles, which is the main trailhead with facilities.

Lord Hill

Many trails wind through this park near Snohomish. You can go for a short trip or wander for miles. It’s also popular with runners, mountain bikers and horse riders.

Directions: From downtown Snohomish, head east on Second Street. Turn right (south) on Lincoln Ave. Continue on this road, which will become Old Snohomish Monroe Rd. Turn right on 127th Ave. SE. The park entrance is on the left.

Green Mountain

Riggen also suggested this hike, which ends at a lookout. A big advantage of this trail is that you can drive to 3,500 feet. It’s still a climb. You gain 3,000 feet over about 4 miles if you go all the way to the lookout. You can also just go as far as the first meadows, about half a mile in, which has some mountain ash. If you get up higher, you’ll find lots of colorful huckleberry bushes in the upper meadow. And, like all lookout sites, the view is breathtaking.

Directions: From Darrington, head north on Highway 530. Turn right on the Suiattle River Road. After about 19 miles, turn left at the sign for the Green Mountain Trail, and then drive 6 miles to the trailhead.

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Information from: The Daily Herald, https://www.heraldnet.com


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