By Michael Lanza
Some places just find their way into your heart and stick there. I fell in love with the entire North Cascades region of Washington on my first trip to the Glacier Peak Wilderness more than 20 years ago. I’ve returned several times since to backpack and climb, but the five-day, 44-mile Spider Gap-Buck Creek Pass Loop really stands out for its scenery and adventure, as you’ll see in this photo gallery.
Backpacking this loop, my family and three friends enjoyed five-star views of Glacier Peak and the sea of lower, jagged mountains surrounding it. Not only were spots like Spider Meadows and Spider Gap, the Upper Lyman Lakes basin, Image Lake, and the area around Buck Creek Pass absolutely stunning, but this trip produced one campsite that made my list of 25 all-time favorite backcountry campsites and two camps that made my list of the nicest campsites I’ve hiked past.
It also harbors one of my favorite backcountry lakes that I have seen over more than three decades of backpacking all over the U.S., including 10 years as Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and many years running this blog.
Plus, this hike has a little spice: the off-trail route over 7,100-foot Spider Gap, which holds snow all summer and can be challenging, depending on the firmness of the snow and the skill level of the backpackers. But when done smartly, it’s relatively easy: We took our young kids over Spider Gap without any issues. I can advise you on how to do that right while helping you plan this trip; see my Custom Trip Planning page for details.
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See my feature story about this trip, “Wild Heart of the Glacier Peak Wilderness: Backpacking the Spider Gap-Buck Creek Pass Loop,” which has many more photos. Reading that story in full, including my expert tips to help you plan this trip, requires a paid subscription.
See my All Trips List for a menu of all of my stories about outdoor adventures at The Big Outside.