Cutthroat Pass

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
5.5-7.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
16.9 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
828 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.8
Physical Difficulty
This 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.
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This 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.
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Cutthroat Pass in North Cascades National Park

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.

Want to find other amazing hikes in North Cascades National Park? Check out the Diablo Lake trail, Maple Pass Loop or the Cascade Pass trail.

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.

Route Information

  • When to do

    July - October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    Yes, at trailhead

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Cutthroat Pass Elevation Graph

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Cutthroat Pass Reviews

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