5 Best Hikes in North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park Overview

Although North Cascades National Park 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 comprises 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 5 best hikes in North Cascades National Park! 

Nearest Metro AreaSeattle, WA
Area Size504,654 acres
EstablishedOctober 2, 1968
Hiking Trails400 miles

HEY YOU, reading this page! Help me, help you – we make a small commission every time an item or piece of gear is purchased after clicking on the links on our GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS pages. If you are in need of some new BOOTS, a new TENT or SLEEPING BAG, TREK POLES, etc. please consider buying after clicking on one of the links on our site! At no additional cost to you, it helps us keep posting more great hiking recommendations for our readers! Happy Hiking!

Click here for more National Park hikes!
You can also view some of our most popular Gear Recommendations here!

Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in North Cascades National Park

1. Cascade Pass Trail (Cascade Pass)

This is 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
Hikes in North Cascades National Park
Photo by Jeffhollett, distributed under a CC-BY-SA-4.0 license
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
  • Moderate
Hidden Lake, Photo by ©2014 Walter Siegmund
3. 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
  • Moderate
Hikes in North Cascades National Park
Photo by Joe Mabel, distributed under a CC-BY-SA-4.0 license
4. 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
  • Moderate
Hikes in North Cascades National Park
Photo by Chris Haffler
5. 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
  • Easy
End of Thunder Knob Trail
End of Thunder Knob Trail, Photo by daveynin

Don’t forget to stock up on the essentials before you plan your next hiking or camping trip! We have recommendations on:
Product image for Right view (Earth)
Hiking Shoes

And more! Just click HERE


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *