Location- In the North Cascades Mountain Loop Highway
Time and distance- Roughly 1 hour 50 minutes and 70 miles from Seattle
If you have lived in Seattle for as long as I do, you will agree with me about the unpredictability of the weather. True it rains a lot, and probably that’s how the state of Washington got to be known as the “Evergreen State”. You will wake up one fine weekend to see it gloomy, depressing, and raining, only to go back to sleep and wake up in a few hours to find it absolutely sunny and gorgeous outside. If that has been the case and you don’t have a lunch invitation, you are not on call, and you are tired of watching TV, pick up your camera, hiking shoes, and car keys and gear up for a drive followed by a hike to the Big Four Ice Caves.
Why Big Four?
Because it’s an easy hike, roughly 1.2 miles one way, with amazing views of the mountains, a bridge to cross over the Stilliguamish River , waterfalls, snow fields, and like the name suggests, ice caves. Yeah, you heard me right. Caves made of real, pristine white ice. You can spend the day, or spend a couple of hours. You can pack a lunch and eat by the caves (please don’t venture inside) or near the picnic area by the trail right before the hike. I’ve heard a lot about the Salzburg ice caves in Austria (though I hear they don’t let you take pictures inside), but Big Four is one of its kind, something unique I haven’t seen anywhere in Washington.
When to visit?
I’ve visited once in February and once in July. Fall should be great too.
A word of caution-
It is better not to venture into the caves. Don’t be coaxed or cajoled into entering the caves, even if for a bet, an adventurous picture of you inside the cave, or to impress your friends into believing how brave you are. Accidents and deaths are not unheard of. I was happy enjoying the air conditioned breeze from outside the cave. The icy breeze mixed with the warm air outside gives an amazing feeling.
PS: Pics taken by me and my friend KG.