If you are visiting the Ross Lake Area of North Cascades National Park, there is a very beautiful hike you should do called Trail of the Cedars. This hike is a short loop that features interpretive signs and beautiful trees. Our boys enjoyed spotting wildlife along the trail and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the rich forest.
There are two access points for this trail. The first is the suspension bridge in the city of New Halem. Turn right on the only road in town and drive to the parking lot behind the administration buildings. There is a large bridge that crosses the river. As soon as you cross the bridge, the trail takes off to the right parallel to the river.
The second way to get to this trail starts out at the Visitor Center for the national park. As you are leaving the Visitor Center, you come to a four-way intersection. Turn right. (It’s just before you cross the bridge). A narrow road takes you to the old power plant. There is a fairly large parking lot right next to the building, and you can hike from there.
Starting at either end of the loop is okay, but make sure that whichever end you start at, you do a little exploring. The bridge is really fun, because it suspends you over the river. The powerplant is interesting because you can look in the windows and read signs about the history of the building and the production of power in this area.
As you walk along, look for the large black slugs on the trail (at least when we visited). Our boys kept spotting them so they could carefully step over or around them. They are about 6 inches long, and surprisingly fast.
This is a gentle, flat nature trail, which loops around for just 0.3 miles, so make sure to stop and read the signs. There is a lot of information that you can learn. We also liked looking for trees growing in a straight line, which is a sure sign that they grew on the same nurse log.
Trail of the Cedars in North Cascades National Park is easy and perfect for toddlers. There is so much to explore. We stopped to sniff the moist, loamy air, to make faces at the slugs, and to learn about the forest.