We've been on a lot of hikes in Seattle - none as otherworldly as the Big Four Ice Caves. Situated just a two hour drive north of the city, in the Cascade Range, sits Big Four Mountain. A mountain that has a steep, black face on the north side, shading its base year-round which allows a beautiful and slightly terrifying natural phenomenon to occur - ice caves. That's right - big ole caves made of ice.
Our pictures won't do this area justice, but we will try our best to describe the beauty to help them along. When you arrive at the hike, you will park and head up the trailhead. You'll find a pleasant, well maintained trail that is good for most skill-levels. Over the next mile you'll walk through the woods, over streams, and up small inclines. At the end of the short hike you'll be rewarded with your first views of the caves. From the end of the main trailhead they look small, dwarfed by the mountain. As you get closer you realize their size - these are the lowest elevation glaciers in the lower 49 states. They are massive and awe inspiring.
See photos as evidence. Amazinngggggggg, amiright?!
The caves are only visible late July through early October, so before you head out we recommend checking trip reports on WTA.org. We also have to mention that these caves are not structurally sound - if conditions aren't right they can collapse and due to their size this is something you do not want to be in there for - enter at your own risk and please please exercise caution while you explore this area.
Beyond seeing the caves, this hike offers truly stunning scenery to take in as well. In the summer months the ice at the top of the mountain melts and creates a crazy amount of waterfalls - we counted 20 the last time we were there. Watching the water gush down the mountain and flow into streams at your feet is something you don't get to experience everyday. Add the beautiful trees (visit in late September, early October and you can see the bright yellows and reds of the leaves changing) and it really does seem to have it all in terms of PNW beauty.
Note: Even in the summer months it's chilly here - wear layers and pack a rain jacket. If you need help deciding what to wear you can check out how Macklemore dressed when he visited (it's the snowing bit in the beginning).
Head up to check them out and let us know what you think!