Ultimate Guide To Trail of the Cedars in Washington For 2021

trail of the cedars 1

You should not use COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for your inactivity. Yes, the pandemic has reduced most of your options. Nevertheless, you still have access to tons of activities worth embarking on to keep yourself fit, such as Trail of the Cedars. 

In Washington, you have more options than you even care to imagine. For example, you could visit Glacier National Park to embark on such a trail. With wide-ranging rest areas and benches, you have plenty of places for taking a bit of a breather. 

Here, you are about to learn everything you wish to know about the Trail of the Cedars. You will know who manages them and opening times. You will also learn about the facilities available at the park and the regulations that you must respect. 

To see a further breakdown of the Trail of the Cedars, please visit the official page for the Washington Trails Association. Link to the relevant page on wta.org for the hike.

History of the Trail of the Cedars

trail of the cedars 2

The hiking trail that now enjoys amazing popularity from visitors and locals alike runs for around 1.6km, which translates to 1 mile. A walk on the Trail of the Cedars leaves you feeling reinvigorated. 

The thick grove of trees that surround you while on this nature trail makes it all worthy of your time. That’s because of numerous reasons. One of these is located at the Glacier National Park. 

A visit here is highly recommended, whether you have to the Going-to-the-Sun Road before or not. The accessibility of this hike makes it the perfect location or activity for all kinds of people. 

Additionally, the route is designed for people who use wheelchairs too. Regardless of your physical condition, you will find the trail of the cedars right up your alley. 

Kids too love the trail that is under the management of the North Cascades National Park. As you walk around the loop, you wouldn’t struggle with feelings such as boredom as there is plenty to see and marvel at. 

Getting to the Trail of the Cedars

trail of the cedars 3

As stated above, you only have to make your way to Washington’s Glacier National Park to find the Trail of the Cedars. Alternatively, you will still get to your destination via the North Cascades Highway, otherwise known as Highway 20. 

It is within Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Mount Baker Ranger District. From the first moment, you will enjoy the meandering natural trail. Apart from that, you will encounter various interpretive signs that educate you on the flora and fauna surrounding you. 

To get a much better view of the trail of the cedars, you would have to kick your tour off at the end of Newhalem’s Main Street. You can only get here by crossing the beautiful suspension bridge that stands proudly across Skagit River. 

Despite this, you need to bear a few thoughts in mind. For example, don’t forget to ascertain the condition that the Going-to-the-Sun Road is in before embarking on the journey to this nature trail. 

Why should you check its current condition? That’s because part of the road is closed at certain times of the year. For example, Logan Pass (the peak of the Going-to-the-Sun Road), is not open between October and early days of July

The exact portion of this road that provides you direct access to the Trail of the Cedars is ready for business early in summer. You can use this portion of the road to access the trail from the west. 

Park Facilities and Regulations

trail of the cedars 4

It is imperative for you to know the facilities available at the trail of the cedars. More importantly, you also have to acclimatize yourself with the regulations put in place by the management. 

First, you’re expected to park your vehicle across a camping ground known as Avalanche Creek. This campground is not far; it runs right alongside the Going-to-the-Sun Road. 

Secondly, it’s important to note that the parking facilities are only available for around 100 cars. That said, you should strive to reach the Trail of the Cedars much earlier, even though this guarantees nothing!

Nevertheless, you might not have to wait ages for a parking spot to open up. That’s because most people visit this location for the trail. Parking slots open up frequently once those who came before you have enough of the short-looped trail. 

This location has enough restrooms to cater for all visitors and nature lovers. You will find enough restrooms on the western side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road right across the street. 

Additionally, the restrooms aren’t far from the Avalanche Creek grounds, which is specifically for camping. If anything, they are just near the entrance to this popular camping ground. 

The restrooms are not limited to the entrances alone, though. There are plenty of them along the actual trail. Therefore, feel free to relieve yourself or answer that call of nature while enjoying the walk. 

Lastly, it would be imprudent not to mention the attractiveness of the Trail of the Cedars as a picnic location. The west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is covered in picnic tables. 

Moreover, you also have the option of enjoying your lunch or snack along the trail. Lake McDonald Lodge is one of the concession locations worth visiting to silence those pangs of hunger. 

Navigating the Trail of the Cedars

trail of the cedars 5

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to navigate the Trail of the Cedars. As initially stated, this loop is quite straightforward. The location features 1.6kms of a paved path that will not give you a headache navigating. 

Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that your first task is to enter the Glacier National Park. To access this trail, you first have to enter through its west gate. Once inside, make your way towards the east. 

You would have to travel around 15.6 miles to the east. Alternatively, you would have to travel 15.5 miles from Logan Pass or 33 miles from the other park entrance known as St. Mary, which is on the eastern side.  

Typically, it takes you around 30 minutes to get to the Trail of the Cedars if you are on the west entrance. Those traveling from Logan Pass would ordinarily take around 40 minutes to reach the trail. 

Obviously, the actual time that you take depends on several factors. For the most part, the biggest factor is the amount of traffic visiting the Glacier National Park or the trail. 

Once you leave your car, you have the freedom of the park before you. Here, you could opt to start looping from either the east or west. The boardwalk, which has proved quite popular over the years, is on the east side. 

Nevertheless, you would not be wrong if you opt to embark on the trail walk from the west either. Primarily, that’s because there is no elevation gain worth talking about whether you start with the east or west. 

That said, the west is particularly attractive if you would prefer to use the restrooms as soon as possible. It’s also a much preferable option if you would don’t feel like using the facilities (restrooms) at the trailhead. 

If you’re not too familiar with directions, the east is on your left and the west on your right. You have access to the boardwalk if you go left and decide to embark on the nature walk from the east. 

The boardwalk is quite striking too. Not only is it fairly wide but also quite well maintained. Personnel in charge of maintaining the park have kept it clean and quite comfortable for all users. 

As you move along, expect to encounter tons of immersive, tall, and dense trees that create such a tranquil space. On top of this, the trees ensure that you are in a space that’s both dark and mossy as well. 

While enjoying all this, do not forget to check the information on the interpretive signs. These signs are critical for explaining more about the area. Remember to talk with the park rangers if you need information to enlighten you more on the area. 

Typically, you will find either majestic red cedars or western hemlocks standing tall in this location while providing all the shade and tranquility that you need. Below are the differences between them:

  1. Western hemlocks

Western hemlocks are native to this part of the country, northwest United States. They can grow to more than 200ft in height. Their diameter can exceed 9ft too. On top of that, they can grow to over 1,000 years in age. 

  1. Red Cedars

You will not find trees that are more common around the Pacific Northwest area than red cedars. Like western hemlocks, they are capable of growing beyond 200ft in height with trunks that exceed 13ft in diameter. 

Final Thoughts

Are you ready to enjoy a bit of what the world has to offer? In that case, you should visit the Trail of the Cedars in Washington. First, though, you would need a copy of the Glacier National Park’s itinerary, which has all the information you need. 

Before taking off, you should confirm that the facility is open. That’s because the management often closes parts of it for months, especially when the weather is a bit unwelcoming during winter. 

Additional Washington Hikes To Consider