- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
The Cutthroat Pass hike is said to be one of the most scenic stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington State. This moderate, 16.4 km hike offers outstanding mountain views from the 2,073 m Cutthroat Pass. We Love it!
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Route Description for Cutthroat Pass
There is more than one way to reach Cutthroat Pass. By hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) north from Highway 20, you can enjoy a wide, moderately graded, and well-maintained path the entire way. Because it was originally graded for pack animals, the PCT never gets too steep. The miles breeze by with little effort, and before you know it you’ll be at Cutthroat Pass.
Begin hiking north through dense forest. Creek crossings keep it interesting along the way, though they are generally easy to pass. The first views open up at 1.6 km - a small glimpse of what’s to come. At 2.9 km cross Porcupine Creek, then begin to climb more steadily. Trees thin over the next 1.6 km or so, and the trail pops out into alpine scenery around the 4.8 km mark.
In another 1.6 km the switchbacks begin, eventually delivering you to Cutthroat Pass. Views throughout this section are wide open towards Porcupine Peak, and larches line the trail. At 16.1 km, reach Cutthroat Pass and a junction. The PCT continues north from here to Canada, while the trail to the right drops to Cutthroat Lake - visibly sparkling below.
Find a lunch spot among the granite here, and see how many mountains you can name. Consider a short side trip to the knoll south of the pass. From here, 360-degree North Cascade mountain views await. Hinkhouse Peak, Silver Star Mountain, and of course Cutthroat Peak dominate the skyline.
Insider Hints for Cutthroat Pass
- Hike to Cutthroat Pass during fall to see the golden larches.
- Consider extending your hike one mile north on the PCT to Granite Pass for additional wonderful views.
Getting to the Cutthroat Pass Trailhead
From Newhalem, drive east on the North Cascades Highway (Highway 20) for 59.5 km to Rainy Pass. Turn left into the signed trailhead parking area on the north side of the road. Northwest Forest Pass required.
Cutthroat Pass Elevation Graph
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Cutthroat Pass Reviews
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