Maple Pass Loop hike

North Cascades National Park
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Maple Pass Loop hike

Distance: 7.1mi
Elevation: 2,044ft
Time: 4-6h

Difficulty Rating:

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9 Overall Rating
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Hiking the Maple Pass Loop in the North Cascades is a gem. This is one of the finest trails in the North Cascades, Maple Pass Loop is a stunner during its short season. Climbing high above alpine lakes, it skirts the North Cascades National Park boundary for views deep into the rugged and remote North Cascades. If you have time for just one North Cascades trail, this is the one.

Maple Pass Loop hike Map

Getting there

From Newhalem, drive 37.0mi east on Highway 20. The signed Rainy Pass Picnic Area trailhead is on the right (milepost 157). Northwest Forest Pass required.

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About

When to do

July to October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Yes, at trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Circuit


Maple Pass Loop
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Maple Pass Loop hike

Wildlife, wildflowers, and wilderness. A cirque-set alpine lake and circuitous route around it. Those seeking a favorable bang-to-buck ratio need look no further – Maple Pass Loop is as good as it gets. The only thing you might miss here is solitude, as the easy trailhead access and stunning scenery make for a very popular trail.

Follow “Lake Trail” signs south from the parking area to the trailhead. Soon you’re presented with an option: to hike the trail clockwise or counter-clockwise. While both directions are of equal merit, we describe it counter-clockwise here. Take a right at the junction to begin climbing steadily through the forest.

At 1.4mi, reach a junction. Stay right to continue on the main trail to Maple Pass, or take the short (0.5mi) detour out to Lake Ann. It’s worth the effort if you have time. Continuing on the main trail, views begin to open up over the lake. Switchbacks climb to Heather Pass at 2.4mi, where a sign announces the National Park boundary.

Hike along the wildflower-strewn ridgeline before climbing to Maple Pass – a high alpine zone above the treeline. Marmots like to sun themselves on the rocks in this area, so listen for their whistles. Views along this stretch are incredible in every direction. A few notable, nearby summits include Corteo Peak, Black Peak, Cutthroat Peak and Whistler Mountain – but there are far too many to name. To the south, Glacier Peak is visible on clear days.

From the trail’s high point of nearly 7000ft, it drops rapidly along the ridgeline between Lake Ann and Rainy Lake. You’ll soon re-enter the forest, with peak-a-boo views down to Rainy Lake – fed by waterfalls – on your right. At 6.7mi reach a junction with the Rainy Lake Trail. Head left to follow this flat, paved trail back to the trailhead.

Insider Hints

  • Visit Maple Pass during the fall for spectacular fall colors. Golden larches are a big attraction here.

  • Bring plenty of water, as there are no sources above the lakes.

  • Please respect fragile meadows and wildlife by staying on the trail.

Comments

Charlie T 3 months ago

Maple Pass Loop is still one of my top favorite hikes ever.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Annie Smith 4 months ago

Loved hiking Maple Pass Loop.

9.0 Overall Rating
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max 5 months ago

One of the top hikes I've ever done! We took a counterclockwise loop and were treated to amazing views almost the whole way! We've decided to skip Lake Anne because the views are more enclosed. We did take the side trip to Rainy Lake to have lunch on a bench just before heading back to the car and it was beautiful. The total hike (8.4 mi) took us about 4 hours

9.0 Overall Rating
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4h 00m Time Taken
Otis 5 months ago

That's my favourite hike from our trip to the Cascades. Loved every single minute of it

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Cykelly 5 months ago

lots of people, nice scenery, a good level of elevation to look around

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Burokai 5 months ago

I didn't find this hike too hard and absolutely enjoyed it. There were lots of people

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6 Comments

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