I hiked Cascade Pass Trail back at the end of September 2023 and took so many amazing photos that I wanted to share some of them with you in case you'd also love to come along on this adventure.
Good to Know
The Cascade Pass Trail is part of North Cascades National Park and doesn't require an entrance pass. That said, I wanted to share their fees and passes page in case you want to read more about the backcountry permit camping, northwest forest pass, or the dock permit.
If you do go to this trail just know that the last 23 miles of Cascade River Road switches from paved to gravel and back many times and also featured a bit of fallen rocks, blown over trees, and steep sections. I can't remember exactly for how long but the last while was just a single lane and so we were really glad not to encounter another vehicle while we were driving on it. That said, the road itself offered so many gorgeous views that we joked that that was all we needed when we reached the trailhead just after 8:30 on a Thursday morning. We were also happy to see that there were two unisex vaulted toilets there. I didn't check it out but there was also a sign saying toilet pointing to a set of steep rock stairs going up the hill at the end of the Cascade Pass Trail.
On the way there we had noticed all the campgrounds were closed and after the fact saw online, through WTA, that that and the lack of picnic tables at the trailhead were because of recent incidents of bears obtaining human food rewards from improper food storage. As such you're supposed to avoid stopping and eating along Cascade River Road and the trailhead while also storing your food properly.
Additionally, my cell signal also dropped out sometime before reaching the park and stayed gone until well after we left so be sure to download or print your hiking map ahead of time and be prepared to drive out of the park without your directions connected. That said, it's also a simple road so we weren't too worried about making a wrong turn when leaving.
Cascade Pass Trail
Road to the Trailhead
As we got closer to the Cascade Pass trailhead the scenery got better and better. Here are some photos I snapped through the side and front windshields on the way.
The trailhead itself was gorgeous showing a glacier, waterfalls, and epic scenery. There are some informational posters that I just realized I never took the time to read along with two gender-neutral vaulted toilet stalls with, at that time, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
The first 2.7 miles of the hike consisted of about 30 switchbacks before straightening out for the rest of the way. The hike itself goes mostly upward without many downward patches meaning the way back is consistently going down. The trees themselves were so pretty and any breaks between them offered pretty epic views too. As you approached the trail's end the trees thinned out offering a larger vista with minor amounts of fog adding definition to the view.
The vista at the trail's end was so gorgeous! To the left of this view the trail continues on while to the right there are steep steps going up with a sign marking it as a toilet stop. I never went up but I'm now wondering what the view would've been like from there.
Beyond the End
If you continue past the end of Cascade Pass Trail you'll next head towards Sahale Arm and Doubtful Lake. We knew we didn't have enough time for Sahale Arm but was told Doubtful Lake wasn't too far and as we weren't that hungry decided to continue on. After marveling at the vista and taking some photos on the way we then decided to turn back before reaching the lake as the rain and slush was picking up and we worried about doing the road back in the dark.
I didn't get a good photo but we heard the calls of the American pikas and saw a couple at the base of the rocks (exact location shown in the last photo in this section) so keep an eye out if you're looking to spot them.
Back at the Trail's End
Once back at the trail's end we sat on one of the larger rocks to eat while looking out at this amazing view. Quick word of warning we did see a chipmunk or two scoping out the area so be careful not to share while eating.
And Back Again
Like Tolmie Peak before this trail is a "there and back" hike so once we finished eating we headed back down. While at the top the fog had gotten worse so we found ourselves walking into the fog as we went but still found the landscape amazing.
Once back at the car we headed home but since the road was empty and the fog wasn't quite as bad as we had thought we stopped for photos at the waterfall on the way out the park.
With that both the hike and the scenic part of the drive was over and I bid you adieu on this adventure. I will now leave you with the sun shinning through the clouds... yet another case of sun rays wishing us a good day after our hike just like when leaving the Tolmie Peak Hike.
I hope all these photos find you well and you're having a great week.
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