Cutthroat Pass in North Cascades National Park
Cutthroat Pass in North Cascades National Park

Cutthroat Pass hike

North Cascades National Park
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A small waterfall over the trail on the Cutthroat Pass Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonCrossing the creek on the Cutthroat Pass Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonPorcupine Peak views on the Cutthroat Pass Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonShoulder beneath Porcupine Peak on the Cutthroat Pass Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonLooking down on Cutthroat lake from the Cutthroat Pass Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonNorth Cascade peaks from the Cutthroat Pass trail in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonThe trail of the Cutthroat Pass Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonPCT part of the Cutthroat Pass Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonMountain views from the Cutthroat Pass Hike in North Cascades National Park, Washington

Cutthroat Pass hike

Distance: 10.5mi
Elevation: 2,717ft
Time: 5.5-7.5h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.7 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

The Cutthroat Pass hike is said to be one of the most scenic stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington State. This moderate, 10.2mi hike offers outstanding mountain views from the 6800ft Cutthroat Pass. We Love it!

Cutthroat Pass hike Map

Getting there

From Newhalem, drive east on the North Cascades Highway (Highway 20) for 37.0mi to Rainy Pass. Turn left into the signed trailhead parking area on the north side of the road. Northwest Forest Pass required.

I’ve done this 29 people have done this
I want to do this 51 want to do this route

About

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


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 1.0mi – a small glimpse of what’s to come. At 1.8mi cross Porcupine Creek, then begin to climb more steadily. Trees thin over the next 1.0mi or so, and the trail pops out into alpine scenery around the 3.0mi mark.

In another 1.0mi 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 10.0mi, 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

  • 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.

Comments

Papa smurph 2 years ago

Mountains dotted with yellow larches come into view, and you quickly get up close and personal to these deciduous conifers on the way to the pass. Gorgeous!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 45m Time Taken
Kohaku Ichinose 2 years ago

It was popular. I just found out when I did it. They all busy taking pictures. ◔_◔

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Lambert O 2 years ago

Awesome hike!! This was one of the most beautiful trails that I have ever done

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 45m Time Taken
Aleysha C. 2 years ago

The road up to Hart's Pass is rough but well worth the effort. Camping at the pass is great.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
6h 00m Time Taken
Felipe III 3 years ago

Worth every effort! Nice views at the top. Interesting trails with some creek crossings.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Seymor H. 3 years ago

It was one hell of a climb, but It's absolutely awesome! One of the most scenic hikes in the park.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Jordan Cohen 3 years ago

Phenomenal scenery! The flora and fauna in this hike were incredible.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Allon FT 3 years ago

Amazing hike to do! The alpine scenery was magnificent.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Otis 3 years ago

Reaching Granite pass is worth adding to this hike as it's not too far away and offers different views

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 00m Time Taken
Cykelly 3 years ago

A bit crowded for the level of effort. Usually the harder the hike, the fewer the people. But Cutthroat pass was quite a popular destination the day I went.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
6h 00m Time Taken
11 Comments Show all

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