Easy Pass

North Cascades
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Easy Pass

Distance: 7.1mi
Elevation: 3,068ft
Time: 5-6h

Difficulty Rating:

We love the hike to Easy Pass. This stunning North Cascade hike has peaks aplenty and rewards hikers at the top of this not-so-easy pass. Gaze across Fisher Basin to Fisher Peak, and check out Mount Logan’s glaciated goods from afar. Hiking to Easy Pass is excellent during fall when the subalpine larches turn golden-yellow. Snow-dusted peaks are icing on the cake.

Getting there

From Newhalem, drive Highway 20 east for 32 miles. Turn right between mileposts 151 and 152 onto a road signed for Easy Pass. Northwest Forest Pass required.

About

When to do

July to October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Yes, at trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

According to the US Forest Service, “This route was called ‘Easy’ Pass because it was the only place possible to put a trail across rugged, ragged ridges.” But don’t let the name fool you. Hiking to Easy Pass is anything but easy. This trail traverses rocky meadows and steep talus slopes in search of higher places, with views deep into North Cascades National Park.

Begin the hike in heavy timber, dropping a little to rushing Granite Creek. Fortunately, a log bridge spans the waters. Begin gaining elevation beneath the trees, reaching Easy Pass Creek and the first mountain views at 1.7 miles. Cross this creek carefully – there is no bridge. Shortly thereafter, the trail emerges from the forest into meadows, with views straight ahead to New Morning Peak.

Climb through the open, talus-strewn slopes towards Easy Pass. Graybeard Peak towers overhead. The trail travels toward the saddle between Graybeard and New Morning Peaks, with ever-improving views northeast to Mount Hardy and Golden Horn each time you turn around. Re-enter a forested area before breaking out into exposed talus again, climbing all the while. Look and listen for pika scurrying about in the rocks while you hike by.

After about a mile of relentless switchbacks, reach the National Park boundary – marked by a post. The pass itself is 0.1 mile further, topping out at just above 6,500 feet. While there’s no obvious turnaround spot (the trail continues for several miles into the National Park), it’s easy enough to find a scenic lunch spot atop the pass.

Enjoy endless views across the Fisher Basin to Fisher and Black peaks. Look deep into the park for a far-off glimpse of glaciated Mount Logan. Fall colors against the backdrop of black rock and white snow makes for a stunning contrast. Easy? No. Worth it? Absolutely.

Hike back the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • Trekking poles are helpful, especially on the steep, rocky descent.

  • The best time for hiking Easy Pass is during fall, providing vibrant colors and snow-capped peaks.

  • Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, especially on hot days. The route is very exposed.

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