The Gorge Overlook Trail is a paved, quarter-mile walk along the rim of the Skagit River gorge, with views of the deeply carved gorge, free-flowing waterfalls, the Gorge Dam, impounded Gorge Lake, and distant peaks with snowfields that feed the river. It’s handicap-accessible the entire length, with a bench and geocache at the end.
The cache is a magnetic keyholder. Please be discreet, as this is a popular overlook, and be sure to return the cache to the same location, which is the least visible spot. If you continue on the unpaved portion of the trail, it will loop back to the parking lot (half-mile total distance either way).
The North Cascades are the wildest and steepest mountains in the continental U.S. outside Alaska, and are named for the many magnificent waterfalls that cascade from hanging glaciers and steep cliffs. The ice age lives on here, with more than 300 active glaciers within North Cascades National Park – more than any other national park, including Glacier NP.
The powerful flow of North Cascade waterfalls makes the Skagit River an excellent hydroelectric resource. The cascades are intensified by a combination of climate and steep terrain, with heavy precipitation, glaciers, and snowfields providing a constant, year-round flow to the watershed.
The 300-ft Gorge High Dam was completed in 1961, turning this section of the Skagit River into Gorge Lake. A short distance upstream are two larger dams and impounded lakes: Diablo and Ross. Gorge Dam fine-tunes the flows from these reservoirs, providing a key link in the hydropower system for Seattle City Light.
The river’s flow turns huge turbines in the powerhouse 2.7 miles downstream, generating electricity that travels through high-capacity transmission lines from these remote mountain lakes to power Seattle and western Washington. (Stop in Newhalem to visit the powerhouse.)
This is the first permitted physical cache in Ross Lake NRA. It was placed with the support of the Interpretive Specialist, and approved by the Superintendent, North Cascades National Park Service Complex.