By James Gorman

GPS: 48°28'N 120°11'W

Your house would look something like this if you’d bought Microsoft at $8 a share. At every vantage—dining room, heated pool, outdoor hot tub, and guest rooms—the massive, snow-flecked North Cascade Mountains dominate. It’s like catnip for hikers and one reason why Sun Mountain Lodge is perhaps the country’s finest hiking lodge. The elegant, unfussy restaurant serves thoughtful dishes prepared from artisanal meats and produce grown regionally. (Consider the Icicle Ridge Chardonnay a post-hike muscle relaxer.) Keeping things grounded is the resort’s extensive outdoor program, including 40 miles (64 kilometers) of hiking and biking trails that originate at the lobby door. Start with the loop hike to Patterson Mountain, a seven-mile round-trip that rewards with a 360-degree view of the Cascade Mountains and the Methow Valley below. Not to be missed is the Maple Pass Loop at Rainy Pass, eight miles of nonstop glaciers and jagged peaks an hour’s drive from the lodge. “Mile for mile,” says Kevin Van Buren, the lodge’s in-house hiking consultant, “it’s one of the most beautiful hikes in the North Cascades.” And that’s saying something.

Vitals: $160; www.sunmountainlodge.com

Originally published in the April 2008 edition of National Geographic Adventure


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