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Cascade Pass to Sahale Arm

Difficult
 5.0 (34) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Climb steadily through endless switchbacks to an awe-inspiring pass with impressive peaks & glaciers


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Map Key

11.5

Miles

18.5

KM

Out and Back

7,541' 2,299 m

High

3,669' 1,118 m

Low

3,873' 1,180 m

Up

3,872' 1,180 m

Down

13%

Avg Grade (7°)

63%

Max Grade (32°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

Overview

Climb steadily through endless switchbacks and earn one of the most spectacular views in North Cascades - no wonder this is the most popular hike in the park! Visitors will have the option to complete this full route, or end their journey after reaching Cascade Pass.

Need to Know

Bring extra clothes for when you reach the pass - you may be sweaty and it's often cool and windy at the pass. Arrive early, as this is the most popular hike in the North Cascades and the parking area fills quickly.

Description

To get to the trailhead, you'll take Cascade River Road in Marblemont off of North Cascades Parkway (this is not the main entrance to North Cascade National Park). Cascade River Road starts paved, but then becomes unpaved (this will be a slow drive!) Nearing the end of the 23 mile road, you'll see spectacular views of peaks. The end of the road takes you right into the parking area for Cascade Pass - there are picnic tables and restrooms. The parking area alone is worth the drive - beautiful mountain peaks, glaciers, and many tall cascades from melting snow virtually everywhere you look during the summer months. You might also hear some pieces of falling ice from glaciers.

The trail starts right off of the parking area. You'll climb steadily through about 30 or so switchbacks. The trail is mostly covered by trees and there's a chance to see wildlife on the trail. As you climb, a few sections of trees are cleared giving you awesome views of the surrounding mountains (and a little bit of encouragement to keep climbing!) - these are the perfect spots for short breaks. Listen for falling ice or water from the many cascades.

Just when you are about to give up, the trail levels out and you'll have beautiful views. Cross a screefield, and you're almost there. Once you reach the pass you'll be rewarded with open views of peaks and glaciers. There is a short trail to a pit toilet here. This is a great place to stop, rest, and eat lunch. You may be sweaty from the switchbacks, and it can get very breezy and chilly so this is a good time to change into dry clothes before eating lunch. Chipmunks are known to steal food, so watch out!

From here you can continue to explore the area. There are several trails that continue onward toward Sahale Arm or Pelton Basin (campsites available). The remainder of the route continues to be strenuous, but the extra effort is well worth your while. The Sahale Arm trail leads to wonderful views and adventurous trail.

If Cascade Pass is your destination for the day, turn around once you've rested up a bit and head back down the way that you came.

History & Background

As you reach the pass, you are following the footsteps of travelers from ancient times. Native Americans used this route as a passage through the rugged Cascades. In 1811, fur trader Alexander Ross explored this route. Later, prospectors with dreams of gold and silver came this way.

Contacts

Shared By:

Michelle Kras

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 34 votes

#152

Overall
  5.0 from 34 votes
5 Star
97%
4 Star
3%
3 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#11

in Washington

#152

Overall
583 Views Last Month
23,566 Since Jan 11, 2016
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Photos

Cascade Pass.  On the Ptarmigan Traverse, this point is where you turn photo-right and start route-finding off the trail.
Oct 11, 2016 near Diablo, WA
Sunrise from the campsite
Nov 19, 2017 near Diablo, WA
Sahale Arm.
Mar 1, 2016 near Stehekin, WA
Sahale Arm Trail.
Mar 1, 2016 near Stehekin, WA
6020ft Sahale Arm, North Cascades National Park.
Jul 30, 2017 near Diablo, WA
North of Doubtful Lake, looking down at the water from oh-so-far above. This shot still makes my heart beat faster because of the exposure and height.
Apr 30, 2016 near Stehekin, WA

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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Minor Issues 27 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Jul 30, 2020
Colton Smith
Jul 10, 2020
Bryan Brown
w Dori en route to Park Creek for the night. ~20 miles with the road closed to the trailhead
Oct 25, 2019
one pinch man
Sep 1, 2019
Jas Kanwaldeep Benipal
12mi — 9h 00m
Sep 1, 2019
Lexí Roberts
Hit overlook for salathe arm 9.3mi
Aug 26, 2019
Callie Branyan
Aug 21, 2019
Xiaohan Wang
Aug 17, 2019
Alec Zucker