The Heather Pass to Maple Pass Loop is a tough route that offers spectacular vistas of the Northern Cascades and is well-known for its stunning fall colors. This loop is popular not just because it is reasonably easy to access, but also because it is difficult enough for bragging rights while remaining approachable for most hikers.
Your hike will begin at the Rainy Lake Trailhead. A Northwest Forest Pass is required, and vault toilets are available. Snow can remain on the trail until mid-July, so plan accordingly if trekking in the spring/early summer.
Although this circle can be completed in either direction, most hikers prefer to do it in the opposite direction. This route provides a more gradual ascent and greater views of Black Peak as you near the pass. This page's route description and map assume you're trekking counterclockwise.
You'll start climbing moderately right away from the trailhead. In July and August, you'll come across a big meadow that's often carpeted in wildflowers. You'll ultimately come across the trail leading to Lake Ann. This short, flat side trip is well worth your time. This side trip is not included in the trail mileage indicated on this page, so add distance if you wish to do it.
Continue rising from the intersection towards Heather Pass. You'll shortly arrive at the pass and be able to see Lake Ann. Continue around the rim, taking in the breathtaking scenery. Before descending, you'll reach Maple Pass. The switchbacks down from Maple Pass can be difficult.