The Cascade Pass Trail is a stunning hike with views of peaks and glaciers. The trail rises steadily to the pass, from which hikers may explore in several directions. The Cascade Pass Trail is also a popular starting point for climbing routes to Sahale, Boston, Mixup, and Magic Peaks, and the Ptarmigan Traverse
into the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
The trail switchbacks through dense, wet forests then traverses through meadows to the pass. While hiking listen for the roar of falling ice from hanging glaciers on Johannesburg Mountain and the sound of water from the many cascades which give this park and its mountains their name.
Just to the east of the pass, the Sahale Arm
Trail veers steeply north towards Sahale Peak. The views from Sahale Arm
are breathtaking as the trail ascends through subalpine meadows and over steep rock scree, before ending at the toe of the Sahale Glacier and a designated campsite.
From Cascade Pass, you can also head east and downward towards campsites at Pelton Basin and a popular side-trip to Horseshoe Basin
- a spectacular steep-walled cirque with waterfalls, wildflowers, and an historic mining site.
Past Horseshoe Basin
, the trail continues into the Stehekin Valley, following the course of this scenic river for much of the route. This trail provides access to the east side of the park, including the village of Stehekin. Because of severe flood damage to the old Stehekin Valley Road, it is now a 23-mile (37 km) hike from the Cascade Pass parking lot to the Stehekin shuttle bus at High Bridge.
Look and listen for wildlife, such as marmots and pikas on rock slopes. Deer, and sometimes black bear, may be seen in meadows. Please help the wildlife stay wild; do not feed them!
Cascade Pass is in the subalpine life zone, a place of deep snows and brief summers. A show of yellow glacier lilies and other brightly flowers quickly follow melting snow. Look for mountain heather, a short, woody evergreen shrub with pink blooms. Although heather thrives in this harsh environment, its brittle stems easily succumb to careless steps.