Cascade Pass hike in North Cascades National Park

Cascade Pass Trail

North Cascades National Park
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Cascade Pass trail in North Cascades, WashingtonCascade Peak on the Cascade Pass Hike in North Cascades, WashingtonJohannesburg Mountain from the Cascade Pass Hike in North Cascades, WashingtonThe view of the Cascade Peak on the Cascade Pass Hike in North Cascades, WashingtonEldorado Peak on the Cascade Pass Hike in North Cascades, WashingtonReaching the pass on the Cascade Pass Hike in North Cascades, WashingtonHikers on the Cascade Pass Hike in North Cascades, WashingtonPelton Peak and Magic Mountain from the Cascade Pass Hike in North Cascades, WashingtonFall colors at the Cascade Pass trail in North Cascades, WashingtonThe trail of the Cascade Pass with the views of Eldorado Peak

Cascade Pass Trail

Distance: 12.4km
Elevation: 518m
Time: 3-4h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.9 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
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Cascade Pass Trail is one of the classic North Cascades hikes. We love Cascade Pass for a relatively easy climb to subalpine grandeur. Mountains, valleys, glaciers, waterfalls, and more make a hike to Cascade Pass pretty much unbeatable for the effort.

Cascade Pass Trail Map

Getting there

To get to the Cascade Pass trailhead, take Highway 20 east to milepost 106 from Marblemount, and cross the bridge onto Cascade River Road. Drive 37.0km to the end of the road. Because most of the road is unpaved, the drive takes nearly an hour from Marblemount. No pass required.

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About

When to do

July - October

Backcountry Campsites

Yes, at Johannesburg Camp (near trailhead) and Sahale Glacier

Toilets

Yes, at trailhead and at Cascade Pass

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Out and back


Cascade Pass Trail
Elevation Graph


Cascade Pass Trail Description

Welcome to North Cascades National Park! After the long drive to the starting point of the Cascade Pass trail, the massive Johannesburg Mountain is a most welcoming sight. Its noisy glaciers can be heard from the parking lot. Not many trails begin from such a scenic setting, so snap a few photos before setting off for Cascade Pass.

The path enters the forest, climbing immediately via a series of more than 30 switchbacks. Although this may sound like a lot, you’ll be thankful for the relatively easy-moderate grade. Along the way, you’ll catch peek-a-boo mountain views of Johannesburg and Cascade Peak through the trees.

At 4.3km, the switchbacks end and the meadows begin. Leave the forest behind, trading it in for heather and huckleberry-strewn talus slopes. The grade eases, too, making this final 1.6km to Cascade Pass the most pleasant of the hike. Turn around for views northwest to the glaciated Eldorado Peak.

Upon reaching Cascade Pass at 6.0km, you’ll be rewarded with views deep into the Stehekin River valley. Magic Mountain and Pelton Peak appear near, while Glory Mountain and McGregor rise beyond.

Cascade Pass itself is a jumping-off point for bigger adventures, with one trail leading over 32.2km to Stehekin and another terminating at nearby Sahale Glacier. It is an additional 3.5km of steep hiking to the glacier from Cascade Pass, so start out early if you want to add Sahale Glacier to the hike to Cascade Pass.

A composting toilet is available via a short, signed side trail from Cascade Pass. Large, flat rocks provide plenty of seating. It can get especially crowded up here on summer weekends, so be prepared for crowds. Once you’ve had your fill of mountain majesty, leave Cascade Pass and hike back the way you came.

Hiking Trail Highlights

Eldorado Peak

The distinctive, pointed, snow-capped Eldorado Peak rises from the North Cascades National Park like a beacon, conveying an almost Himalayan-like splendor. This beautiful peak is legendary among mountaineers, and was once dubbed ‘Queen of the Cascade River’ by climbing icon Fred Beckey. Towering 8868 feet above sea level, and culminating in an exhilarating snow ridge, this impressive natural monument is a bucket list destination for most keen climbers.

In fact, the summit of Eldorado Peak is not too challenging for most well-equipped climbers, and the rewards at the top are well worth the effort of the ascent. There are epic views in all directions, including those of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan to the north, and Glacier Peak in the opposite direction. The experience of summiting the peak along a knife-edge snow ridge is something mountaineers never forget! If you’re not a climber, Eldorado Peak can still be admired from afar, its distinctive peak forming an unmissable part of the landscape in the Cascades National Park.

Want to find other great hikes in North Cascades National Park? Check out the Diablo Lake or Maple Pass Loop trails.

Insider Hints

  • Black bears frequent the Cascade Pass area. Never leave food unattended, and be bear aware!

  • Camping is available near the trailhead at Johannesburg Camp, and additionally at Sahale Glacier Camp. A free backcountry permit is required for camping and can be obtained at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount.

  • Planning a very special hike with your partner? The picturesque Cascade Pass Trail is a great place to elope!

Comments

footfall 2 hours ago

Be prepared to be blown away with the view of glaciers and valleys at the overlook on top of Cascade Pass.

10.0 Overall Rating
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HIllaryPNW 1 week ago

Offers wonderful views of the mountains! I always recommend this trail to my friends

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Tom Pack. 4 weeks ago

Did this Trail last July, It was a great place to hike and absolutely awesome views

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T Rob 1 month ago

Did this couple of years ago. this is easily one of the most beautiful hikes and the views just keep getting better throughout the hike

9.0 Overall Rating
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4h 00m Time Taken
max 1 year ago

The drive to the trailhead is already somewhat special because of the views. The trail is very well maintained and quite popular. Also I think it's worth going the extra mile and heading up Sahale Arm towards Sahale Glacier camp.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Otis 1 year ago

Lovely view but might get very windy once you reach the pass

10.0 Overall Rating
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3h 00m Time Taken
Cykelly 1 year ago

Spent a lot of time taking pictures on the Cascade pass trail. There's really a lot to see.

10.0 Overall Rating
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4h 00m Time Taken
Burokai 1 year ago

Lovely hike, not too hard. It was a sunny day so there were quite a lot of people

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8 Comments

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