Gorge High Dam

June 25, 2006

On my way back from Sauk River (see previous newsletter) I kept left at the junction and very soon I was rewarded with beautiful views of Whitehorse and its companion, Three Fingers. 

These peaks are an unmistakable sight to the east from the flatlands near Everett. The gleaming Queest Alb Glacier leads to the saddle between South and Middle Finger.

Whitehorse Mountain and Three Fingers

Then, along the windy road I was able to see Mount Higgins and Round Mountain.

Mount Higgins and Round Mountain

But one kilometer before the trailhead (you are supposed to cross one bridge, take one short spur road and then the trailhead) the road was snow-covered. 

Segelsen Lake was my point of reference to know I was just meters away from Deer Creek Pass and then the spur leading to Round Mountain.  From there you can easily reach Coney Pass and then Round Mountain

Segelsen Lake

Elev 160m N 48'16.425" W 121'42.991" Logging Road Begins
Elev 1031m N 48'20.259" W 121'43.317" Segelsen Lake

I was thinking that maybe I was going to be able to reach the peak using this abandoned logging road but after one kilometre I was stopped for branches hitting my face. 

Disappointed, I started my drive back to Canada but along the way I decided to do a quick stop in Glacier, from where I was planning to improvise a hike around Mount Baker for the following day.

Driving Distance from Round Mountain to Glacier 160 km (100 miles)

This town is the last outpost on the Mount Baker Highway before entering the national forest. While Glacier offers food and lodging, there is no gas available, so you will need to return to Maple Falls for fuel.

After talking with the locals and doing some reading I realized I was going to waste my time.  Too much snow on the trails at this time of the year, the best time to hike this place is from August to October. So I decided to try my luck with another local hike, Sourdough Mountain.

Driving distance from Glacier to Soudough Mountain 163 km (102 miles)

If you are driving on the upper Skagit River, you should stop on Gorge High Dam.  On January 6, 1961, Seattle City Light completed Gorge High Dam on the upper Skagit River, in southeast Whatcom County. The dam is 300 feet (91.44 m) high. The combination gravity-arch concrete structure diverts water to a tunnel, which connects to a powerhouse two miles downstream.

Gorge High Dam

There is a very short trail called Gorge Overlook Trail.  The trail skirts the rim of the gorge, with view of free-flowing cascades and Gorge Dam.

Through windows in the forest, the power of water appears in multiple guises: waterfalls of the Gorge Creek side canyon; deeply carved Skagit River gorge; impounded Gorge Lake; and on distant peaks the snowfields that feed the watershed.

The trail is paved and fully accessible for 400 yards (360 meters) to the turnaround point at the dam overlook. From there a foot path with steeper (10%) grades continues through the forest for 600 yards (540 meters), looping back to the parking lot.