Hiking in North Cascades
Views from the Maple Pass Loop hike in North Cascades National Park

hikes in North Cascades National Park

Region in Washington State, United States
North Cascades trail map

Hiking in the North Cascades National Park in Washington State is an outdoor paradise. Whether it is hiking or backpacking, the North Cascades are a great choice. Home to emerald lakes, soaring spires, the Stehekin river valley, and more than 300 glaciers, there's a lot to see here. To put it simply, North Cascades National Park has lots of great hikes. As the least-visited national park in Washington state, hiking in the North Cascades rarely feels crowded.

Family friendly strolls? Check. Moderate day hikes? Check. Jumping off points for grueling multi-day adventures? Check and check. Washington State’s North Cascades National Park has it all. Our top 10 trails feature something for everyone, including scenic mountain overlooks, alpine lakes, snowy passes, and the park’s namesake: cascading waterfalls. Some 400.0mi of trails snake through the North Cascades, with more than 127 alpine lakes to explore. So what are you waiting for? The Cascades are calling!

THE TOP 10 HIKES IN NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK, WASHINGTON

  1. Maple Pass Loop (7.1mi, 2044ft, 4-6h): The Maple Pass Loop hike is a stunning hiking trail in the North Cascades. Hiking high above alpine lakes, the Maple Pass Loop skirts the National Park boundary for views deep into the rugged and remote North Cascades. If you have time for just one North Cascades hike, this is the one.
  2. Hidden Lake Trail (8.1mi, 2999ft, 5-6h): Hiking the Hidden Lake Trail is exquisite. Wildflowers, rocky spires, an alpine lake, and a historic lookout can all be found while hiking the Hidden Lake Trail. Enjoy countless Cascade views as you hike this challenging trail.
  3. Easy Pass (8.0mi, 3068ft, 5-6h): Hiking Easy Pass is actually a challenging North Cascades hike, despite its name. The views from Easy Pass are amazing. Gaze across Fisher Basin to Fisher Peak, and check out Mount Logan’s glaciated goods from afar. This trail is excellent during fall when the subalpine larches turn golden-yellow. Snow-dusted peaks are icing on the cake.
  4. Blue Lake (4.6mi, 1001ft, 2-3h): The hike to Blue Lake is a stunner. This leisurely, Washington State hike takes you out to a pretty Blue Lake flanked by the dramatic Liberty Bell Mountain spires. This trail is especially excellent during fall when the larches turn gold.
  5. Cascade Pass (7.7mi, 1699ft, 3-4h): Choose Cascade Pass for a classic North Cascades hike. This is a relatively easy hike to subalpine grandeur. Mountains, valleys, glaciers, waterfalls, and more make the Cascade Pass hike nearly unbeatable for the effort.
  6. Cutthroat Pass via Pacific Crest Trail (10.5mi, 2717ft, 5-6h): Hiking to Cutthroat Pass is said to be one of the most scenic stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington State. Hike to Cutthroat Pass and you’ll see why. This moderate 5.0mi hike offers outstanding mountain views from the 6800ft pass.
  7. Washington Pass Overlook (0.2mi, 20ft, 0-1h): The Washington Pass Overlook hike is a short, paved trail to the incredible Liberty Bell views from the 5600ft heights of Washington Pass. This hike is a must-do on your trip to the North Cascades, and is an excellent way to break up the drive between eastern and western Washington.
  8. Ladder Creek Falls (0.5mi, 200ft, 1h): Ladder Creek Falls is a quick hike that takes you for a short walk over the Skagit River and through the woods to Ladder Creek Falls in Newhalem. In the evenings, a colored light show provides entertainment from dusk till midnight year-round.
  9. Diablo Lake Trail (4.4mi, 801ft, 3-4h): The hike up Diablo Lake Trail rises 700ft above its Diablo Lake, delivering hikers to a view of Ross Dam before trekking down to a suspension bridge over Lake Diablo. During summer, this hike can be done as a one-way hike with a ride back to the trailhead via the Diablo Lake Ferry.
  10. Thunder Creek Trail (12.4mi, 1401ft, 5-6 hours): Hike the Thunder Creek Trail as far as you like. The Thunder Creek Trail stretches over 30.0mi into the North Cascades backcountry. This is an epic Washington State adventure that you don’t want to miss.
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The best hikes in North Cascades National Park

Panorama from the Maple Pass Loop hike in North Cascades National Park

01. Maple Pass Loop
Difficulty

7.1mi 2,044ft 4-6h

Hiking the Maple Pass Loop in the North Cascades is a gem. This is one… Read More

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Trail of the Hidden Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park

02. Hidden Lake Trail
Difficulty

8.1mi 2,999ft 5-6h

We love to hike the Hidden Lake Trail. This is true North Cascades beauty, with… Read More

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9.8Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the Easy Pass hike in North Cascades National Park

03. Easy Pass
Difficulty

8.0mi 3,068ft 5-6h

We love the hike to Easy Pass. This stunning North Cascade hike has peaks aplenty… Read More

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8.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the Blue Lake hike in North Cascades National Park

04. Blue Lake
Difficulty

4.6mi 1,001ft 2-3h

The family-friendly hike to Blue Lake is another North Cascades gem. The whole family will… Read More

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8.8Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery from the Cascade Pass hike in North Cascades National Park

05. Cascade Pass
Difficulty

7.7mi 1,699ft 3-4h

The hike to Cascade Pass is one of the classic North Cascades hikes. We love… Read More

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Scenery from the Cutthroat Pass in North Cascades National Park

06. Cutthroat Pass
Difficulty

10.5mi 2,717ft 5-6h

The Cutthroat Pass hike is said to be one of the most scenic stretches of… Read More

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9.7Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Views from the Washington Pass Overlook Hike in North Cascades National Park

07. Washington Pass Overlook
Difficulty

0.2mi 20ft 0.5h

The Washington Pass Overlook hike is a must-do for anybody in the North Cascades. This… Read More

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9.6Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery from the Ladder Creek Falls hike in North Cascades National Park

08. Ladder Creek Falls
Difficulty

0.5mi 200ft 0.5h

Hiking to ladder Creek Falls is a great family-friendly hike for those in Newhalem. Take… Read More

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Scenery from the Diablo Lake Trail in North Cascades National Park

09. Diablo Lake Trail
Difficulty

4.4mi 801ft 3-4h

The hike along the Diablo Lake Trail rises 700ft above Diablo Lake, delivering… Read More

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Scenery from the Thunder Creek Trail in North Cascades National Park

10. Thunder Creek Trail
Difficulty

12.4mi 1,401ft 5-6h

Hiking along the Thunder Creek Trail can be as short or long as you want.… Read More

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8Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty

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