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North Cascades

In many ways, the North Cascades epitomizes the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific Northwest Trail. It includes vast areas of wilderness, as well as working forests and popular recreation destinations.

With postcard-perfect alpine lakes nestled among a seemingly endless horizon of majestic glacier-cut peaks, it’s easy to see why the North Cascades has long lured travelers, poets, and dreamers. This may be Seattle’s summer playground, but the Pacific Northwest Trail mostly stays on less-traveled paths. The long stretch from remote Loomis State Forest across the Pasayten Wilderness offers challenge, solitude, and classic mountain scenery as hikers climb to the crest of the Cascade Range. There, two National Scenic Trails meet, as the Pacific Northwest Trail shares ten spectacular miles with the Pacific Crest Trail before descending to Ross Lake and then up through stands of giant old-growth western redcedar in North Cascades National Park. From Hannegan Pass—resplendent with wildflowers in late summer—the trail reaches Baker Lake, a favorite spot for boaters and campers. 10,781-foot Mt. Baker stands as a lone sentinel, its snowy flanks reflected in the lake’s waters. Passing below titanic Eastman Glacier and through forests scarred by recent volcanic eruptions, hikers are reminded of the powerful forces still at work shaping this dramatic landscape.

Highlights:  
  • Trekking through the heart of the 531,000-acre Pasayten Wilderness
  • Hiking two National Scenic Trails at once  —the Pacific Northwest Trail and the north-south Pacific Crest Trail
  • Starwatching from camp on turquoise-blue Ross Lake
  • Gazing up at glaciers on the craggy peaks above Whatcom Pass
  • Relaxing in amethyst meadows of lupine beneath Mt. Baker’s Park Butte Lookout

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The 1200 mile trail has been divided into 5 regions.