North Cascades National Park
Includes all lodging, all meals, park entrance fees, leaders, trail maps and narratives.
Timberline van shuttle is included from Seattle, WA.
Not included: Airline service to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport; Guide Gratuity.
Hotel 8:30 am
Some of the west’s most rugged, dramatically sculpted, high-alpine terrain lies within the parameters of the Cascade Range that stretches from British Columbia southward into northern California. Glaciation claims a major share of the credit for the rugged character of the North Cascades and remains an active force today. More than 300 glaciers are found within the national park – more than any other park outside of Alaska and comprising a third of all the glaciers in the lower 48 states. The region is also marked by incredible diversity. The west facing slopes receive abundant precipitation from the Pacific and are heavily forested. The eastern, or leeward slopes, lie within the Cascades rain shadow where sunshine is prevalent, rainfall infrequent and vegetation sparse.
Our North Cascades hiking tour will emphasize the diverse experiences that are so prominent in the region. We’ll explore the area from the west and the east, from the narrow Skagit River Valley and the expansive Methow Valley, and from the adjoining national forests to the high alpine meadows in the central peaks. We visit sections of the Pacific Crest trail described as some of the most scenic on the entire trail, with its sweeping, above treeline vistas. Our dates are timed to overlap the explosion of alpine flowers with the melting out of the higher trails to allow us to approach the everlasting glaciers.
We’ll meet in Seattle on the morning of Day 1 and shuttle through Marblemount into the heart of the National Park. Here we will hike on the Diablo Lake trail, first above the lake, and then down across the suspension bridge below the massive Ross Dam. Our overnight for the first two nights are on the west side of the park at the quirky Buffalo Run Inn. Day 2 it is straight to the high country from the Cascade River. From the trialhead we’ll begin to climb gently through no less than 33 switchback to the crest of Cascade Pass at 5400′. The views along the way are remarkable as we traverse flower-filled meadows and cross countless sparking streams. Dominating the landscape at the summit is Johannesburg Peak with its spectacular hanging glacier.
It’s back up the Skagit River on Day 3 to hike a point to point route over 4th of July Pass and down Panther Creek. Our trail is through a wild and beautiful forest along the frothing blue waters of the creek, rushing and tumbling toward the bottom of the valley. From the end of our hike we continue east into the old western style community of Winthrop and the charming Mazama Inn.
A gem of a trail awaits us on Day 4 where we hike one of the finest trail in the North Cascades, Maple Pass Loop. Climbing high above alpine lakes, it skirts the North Cascades National Park boundary to look into the deep, rugged and remote North Cascades. The ridgeline has a plethora of wildflowers, marmots like to sun themselves on these rocks, and views along this stretch are incredible in every direction. The loop trail brings us back down from the highpoint at 7000 ft past waterfalls and lakes to return to the trailhead.
On Day 5, we’re headed for the Pacific Crest trail to take us to Grasshopper Pass. Following a shuttle to Hart’s Pass, we’ll climb above timberline early into this 11 -mile day, and we’ll remain above the treeline with magnificent views of the surrounding high peaks the entire way to the Grasshopper summit.
On our final Day 6, we head back through the park to the west side for a final climb to the summit of Sauk Mountain and an unbelievable 360 degree panoramic view of the Cascades to the east, Mt. Baker to the north, the Pacific to the west, and on a reasonably clear day, Mt. Rainier to the south. We return to the Seattle area for the conclusion of our North Cascades hiking tour.
|Day 1||Van shuttle to Marblemount, hike Diablo Lake Trail||4|
|Day 2||Cascade Pass, overnight in Marblemount||7|
|Day 3||Fourth of July Pass , overnight Mazama Country Inn||11.7|
|Day 4||Rainy Pass to Maple Pass||7|
|Day 5||Pacific-Crest Trail to Grasshopper Pass||11|
|Day 6||Sauk Mountain||7|