3. Cascade Pass – North Cascade National Park
Distance: 7.4 miles
North Cascades National Park might not be as popular as Glacier or Zion, but as anyone who has ever visited can confirm, it’s no less spectacular.
This 500,000 acre park located in Northwest Washington features towering jagged peaks, over 300 glaciers, and of course – lots of cascading waterfalls.
The park is fairly popular among backpackers and mountaineers, but not so well known as a hiking destination for the average national park tourist.
Truthfully, I’m a little hesitant to share this park, because part of what makes it so special is the lack of crowds. But the hike we went on while there was just too amazing not to make my Top 3 list.
We visited North Cascade National Park on a whim while traveling across Washington one year at the beginning of September.
We arrived with virtually no knowledge of the park and were quickly entranced by the dense moss covered forest and glacial fed turquoise colored lakes.
There are a wide variety of hiking trails in the park, but for a reasonable length trail that offers access to the park’s high alpine environment along with views of peaks and glaciers, the Cascade Pass Trail is the clear choice.
The majority of the trail traverses up through a shaded forest on a network of switchbacks. The pleasant environment helped us forget that we were climbing 1,700 feet in elevation.
Soon enough the trail spilled out of the forest onto a boulder field surrounded by jagged snow covered peaks. A short walk across a shale field led us to the top of the pass where we rested and took in the view.
From here you can turn around and go back down, or you can continue another 2 miles up to the toe of the Sahale Glacier. We were only prepared to hike as far as the pass, but next time I am determined to make it to that glacier!
Go Take A Hike!
The next time you visit a national park, remember to park the car, step out of the RV, and do some exploring on foot.
Not only will you be rewarded with some healthy exercise, but you’ll also experience all the parks have to offer up close and personal.
Be sure to make a quick stop at the visitor center for a map and some trail advice from the rangers. Happy hiking!