Cutthroat Pass hike

North Cascades National Park
View Photos

Cutthroat Pass hike

Distance: 10.0mi
Elevation: 2,717ft
Time: 5-6h

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 7 people have done this
I want to do this 22 want to do this route


When to do

July - October

Backcountry Campsites



Yes, at trailhead

Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

Out and back

Cutthroat Pass
Elevation Graph

Route Description for Cutthroat Pass hike

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.

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.


To add rating to your comment you need to log In or sign up.

Otis 3 months 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 months 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
Burokai 3 months ago

A must do if you are in the North Cascades. The views were very rewarding. Quite a lot of people though

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

Similar hikes to the Cutthroat Pass hike

Diablo Lake Trail


The hike along the Diablo Lake Trail rises 700ft above Diablo Lake, delivering hikers to a view of…

Cascade Pass


The hike to Cascade Pass is one of the classic North Cascades hikes. We love Cascade Pass for a relatively…

Easy Pass


We love the hike to Easy Pass. This stunning North Cascade hike has peaks aplenty and rewards hikers at the…