Although North Cascades is more of the ‘driver’s national park’, there are still plenty of beautiful, fun, and challenging trails to hike. The park is located less than 3 hours from Seattle in northern Washington just below the Canadian border. Split by the Skagit River, North Cascades National Park is comprised of a northern and southern section. Streams and lakes within the park are turned a beautiful turquoise blue from the meltwater of the glaciers sitting above in the Cascade Mountains. If you’re wanting to see some of the backcountry lakes and peaks of North Cascades National Park, make sure you bring a 4WD vehicle with you as there are some windy, gravel roads you’ll need to access. The hikes at the end of these roads though make the tough journey well worth it! Below are the 6 best day hikes in North Cascades National Park! Official Website.
1. Cascade Pass Trail (Cascade Pass)
This a beautiful hike and one of the most popular in the park. Along the way you’ll catch views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers…the hike can be extended beyond Cascade Pass to Sahale Arm.
- 7.4 miles – Out and back (11.8 miles to Sahale and back)
- 1,700′ gain (nearly 4,000′ gain to Sahale)
- Moderate / Strenuous
2. Hidden Lake Trail (Cascade Pass)
Another popular and incredibly beautiful day hike that is accessed from Cascade River Road. The trail begins in a forested area but quickly rises on a rocky slop that has a historic fire lookout on top overlooking Hidden Lake. The trailhead is located at the end of Sibley Creek (Hidden Lake) Road (USFS Rd #1540) off of Cascade River Road.
- 7 miles – Out and back
- 2900′ gain
3. Maple Pass Loop (WA-20 Highway)
This is a great hike that starts just outside of the park and passes Lake Ann and Rainy Lake along the way. The trailhead is located on the East side of the park off of Highway 20 next to the Rainy Pass parking area.
- 6.7 miles – Loop
- 2,300′ gain
4. Rainbow Loop (Stehekin)
Most popular during the early season because of the beautiful wildflowers in spring. The lower, southern trailhead is located 2.6 miles from the Stehekin Landing on the Stehekin Valley Road and can be accessed via the shuttle.
- 4.4 miles – Loop
- 1000′ gain
5. Diablo Lake Trail (WA-20 Highway)
Catch glimpses of glaciers and peaks from the North side of Diablo Lake. The trailhead is located off Diablo Dam Road from Highway 20.
- 7.6 miles – Out and back
- 1,800′ gain
6. Thunder Knob Trail (WA-20 Highway)
Family friendly hike with great views of Diablo Lake. The trailhead is located next to the Colonial Creek Campground off of Highway 20.
- 3.6 miles – Out and back
- 425′ gain
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