Cascade Pass Trail

North Cascades National Park, Washington

Distance8.4mi
Elevation Gain6,344ft
Trailhead Elevation3,648ft
Top5,412ft
Elevation Min/Max2758/5412ft
Elevation Start/End3648/3648ft

Cascade Pass Trail

Cascade Pass Trail is a hiking trail in Chelan County and Skagit County, Washington. It is within North Cascades National Park. It is 8.4 miles long and begins at 3,648 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 17.0 miles with a total elevation gain of 6,344 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. The Basin Creek camp site can be seen along the trail. The trail ends near the Cottonwood camp site. This trail connects with the following: Sahale Arm Trail and Stehekin Valley River Road.

Cascade Pass Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Cascade Pass is a classic destination in North Cascades National Park. The 7.4-mile hike through old-growth forest leads to an incredible perch surrounded by sharp peaks, massive mountains, and crevassed hanging glaciers creeping toward cliff bands.

From the top of this ancient route through the Cascades, you can explore in a variety of directions—or sit still and let your eyes do the exploring."

"The superb meadows and glaciered peaks of Cascade Pass are better than the best of the European Alps. The trail is graded gently enough for children, although the switchbacks gain elevation in maddeningly small increments.

At the pass, in season, are myriad flower species and gasp-provoking views. Or hike it in late fall to admire the color of the vine maple and huckleberry leaves and a dusting of powdered-sugar snow on the summits."

"This strenuous but short 7.4-mile out-and-back trip offers some of the best rewards for the effort in the Cascades. Climbing steeply through forest, the trail emerges into a wonderland of hanging glaciers, waterfalls, and soaring peaks.

From the pass, you can continue higher into the alpine country toward Sahale Arm, or drop toward the scenic outpost of Stehekin at the north end of Lake Chelan, accessible only by boat."

"Perhaps the best-loved trail in the North Cascades, this path has a long climb for an easy hike, but the trail gradient is modest and the trek is suitable even for small children and elderly hikers who are in good health."

"This is one of the most scenic, most accessible (including for kids, at least to the pass), and not surprisingly the most crowded high-country romps in the North Cascades—and the only trailhead in the 684,000-acre North Cascades National Park that you can drive to.

Mixed in with the throngs of Puget Sound hikers are folks from Munich, Tokyo, and Kalamazoo. And none of them return disappointed after frolicking among fields of flowers, peaks of ice, and boulders bearing basking marmots— some of the most outstanding alpine landscapes to be found anywhere in the world."

Cascade Pass Trail Reviews

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8/22/2009
The views are spectacular from the moment you step out of your car. We continued on up to Sahale Arm and thought it was well worth the extra effort for the views of Doubtful Lake and the Sahale Glacier. There were quite a few people by the afternoon, but who can blame them on a perfect summer weekend day.
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8/7/2006
Cascade Pass from the trailhead outside out of Marblemount at the end the road at Johanisburg Campground, one way, to High Bridge just outside of Stehekin at the north(west) end of Lake Chelan: Great Hike, lots of Marmots in the high country and bears down in the Stehekin valley. Bear wires or Bear boxes at every desgnated campground. Be sure and use them for food and anything else that has an oder(soap, deoderant, toothpaste, etc) because the bears are out there. We sighted about six bears but had no problem. Thetrail up to Cascade pass from Johanisburg is steep but not bad because of nicely spaced switchbacks. Highly recommend an early start and plan on camping at the Sahale Glacier campground at the high end of Sahale Arm, instead of Pelton Basin Campground. Its an incredible camp sight situated on a ledge on the side of the mountain. You won't forget it. 2nd day, Skip Pelton basin and drop down to Basin Creek Campground for your second night. This hike down to Basin Creek is a classic series of high altitude valley views with a marvelous lunch stop at the doubtful Creek water falls. (check out the pool above the lowest cascade for a chilling but zesty plunge. The 3rd night is best taken at Parker Creek campground or one of the lower campsights, then hike out the fourth day to High Bridge where you can catch a bus back to Stehekin at 12:00 noon every day (check with the ranger station on the bus schedule in the event of schedule change. You have to hike to High Bridge because the Stehekin River has severely washed out the road above High Bridge. Enjoy this opportunity to experience the high Country then visit the Golden West Ranger Station in Stehekin on your way home to see the early Native American, homesteading, and mining history of the Pass and Valley.
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10/27/2005
We arrived shortly after sunrise and hiked in early morning light. There was 2-3 inches of fresh snow at the pass. Even though it was cold and windy, the views on this clear morning were spectacular. At the Pass you are surrounded by jagged, snow dusted peaks; glaciers, and incredible panoramas. I would highly recommend this hike. Watch for ice on the trail -- there were some slippery spots. The trail up Sahale Arm was closed due to wintery conditions.
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5/2/2005
It's way early in the season for this hike but with the unseasonably warm and dry weather we've had all winter, I figured it would be open. The road to the trailhead was 21 miles long and gave me the assurance that this was going to be a beautiful trail. It was, but it ended up being 2.3 miles longer than advertised, due to road closure at mile marker 21. The road had a steep grade, winding through trees for a mile or more until it opened up into a huge valley, with Johannesburg Mountain on the right hand. There's a pile of rubble somewhere in the first mile, making it clear why the road was closed. In the second mile, the concrete is buckled like the top of a pan of brownies, apparently marking the passage of some very heavy rocks making tracks for the valley floor. The guidebook says the first 2 miles of the 3.5 miles to Cascade Pass is in the forest, with 33 switchbacks taking you up the grade. I didn't bother counting, due to the fact that my attention was being placed elsewhere. I'd begun to notice that the trees along the trail were bare and torn from the ground and up twelve feet, on one side only. It dawned on me that bears make those sorts of marks. I began blowing my whistle at the end of every switchback, warning any critters ahead that I was coming. Before the first mile was up, I was hitting snow deep enough that when I fell through I often went in up to my thighs. At 1 3/4 miles, I decided it was too risky to continue. I had not encountered a single other hiker, and the tracks I'd been following had disappeared. I did run into one couple near the trailhead on my way back. They had seen a bear when they were on the road up here and were spooked. I'm disappointed I couldn't make the summit, but it's a phenominally beautiful trail and I'll definitly be back to finish what I started, this time with a very large friend to keep me company and scare the bears away!
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7/21/2003
Trail starts through forest with a lot of elevation gain strewn over countless switchbacks. Very crowded trail. Climbs up into wonderful alpine meadows with grand views. Can hear ice falling off mountainside on way up.Spectacular.
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9/2/2001
It was an awesome adventure. Friday started with us leaving at 4:00 am from the Tacoma area. We arrived at the Wilderness Information Center at about 7:30 am. We were able to pick-up the permits we wanted and we headed out to the trail head (there was a line and getting there early is important). From the edge of Marblemount it was about 22 miles. My daughter and I arrived there by about 9:30 am. We geared up and headed out. The trail was cloudy and the mountains were difficult to see and visiblity was limited. From time to time we were granted a peek at the glorious vistas, then they were gone. It was still breath taking. We took our time seeing several Ptarmigan, Blacktail deer, pika and Marmot standing along the trail. By the time we reached Cascade Pass the clouds were lifting. The wind was blowing at the pass making it a bit blustery. It was an easy hike down to Pelton Basin where we stayed the first night. We made camp and relaxed. I spend several hours just sitting quietly in the wilderness just listening and watching. It was totally incredible! The rain began about 9:00 pm and continued throughout the night. It was very heavy at times. We had planned to meet a couple of friends in morning at the base of the Shahale Arm. At 10:00 am the rain was still very heavy. We descided to sit tight until 11:00 am and make our decsion. At 11:00 the rain was still coming down, but we elected to pack-up and make our way back up the trail to the Shahale Arm and then we would make our choice. As we were dropping the tent we met up with the backcountry ranger (we had met him the day before and we made plans to go up the Shahale Glacier together). He indicated that the weather was horrible at the glacier and he strongly advised us from going up there, he was canceling his ascent until the weather cleared. He indicated that the heavy rain, very strong winds, poor visiblity and very cold temperture made it unadvisible and a less than desirable experience. We elected to make our way back down to the trail head and returned home. But overall we came away with a totally awesome experience that we would gladdly repeat. We plan to attempt the Shahale Arm in the near future.
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Cascade Pass Trail Photos

Trail Information

North Cascades National Park
Nearby City
North Cascades National Park
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate
Skill Level
North Cascades National Park; (360) 873-4500; nps.gov/noca
Local Contacts
USGS Cascade Pass; Green Trails no. 80, Cascade Pass; North Cascades National Park map
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018