Cascade Pass

  • Difficulty
  • 11.9km
  • 518m
  • 3-4h

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The hike to Cascade Pass is one of the classic North Cascades hikes. We love Cascade Pass for a relatively easy climb to subalpine grandeur. Mountains, valleys, glaciers, waterfalls, and more make a hike to Cascade Pass damn near unbeatable for the effort.

Getting there

From Marblemount, take Highway 20 east to milepost 106 and cross the bridge onto Cascade River Road. Drive 23 miles to the end of the road. Because most of the road is unpaved, the drive takes nearly an hour from Marblemount. No pass required.


Total Gain: 518m


Type of Hike Out and Back
Crowd Levels High
Route Signage Good
Toilets Yes, at trailhead and at Cascade Pass
Family Friendly No
Backcountry Campgrounds Yes, at Johannesburg Camp (near trailhead) and Sahale Glacier
When to Do July – October

 Detailed Description

Welcome to North Cascades National Park! After the long drive to the trailhead, massive Johannesburg Mountain makes for a most welcoming sight. Its noisy glaciers can be heard from the parking lot. Not many trails begin from such a scenic setting, so snap a few photos before setting off for Cascade Pass.

The hike enters the forest, climbing immediately via 30+ switchbacks. Though it sounds menacing, you’ll be thankful for the relatively easy-moderate grade. Along the way you’ll catch peek-a-boo mountain views of Johannesburg and Cascade Peak through the trees.

At 2.7 miles, the switchbacks end and the meadows begin. Leave the forest behind, trading it in for heather and huckleberry-strewn talus slopes. The grade eases, too, making this final mile to Cascade Pass the most pleasant of the hike. Turn around for views northwest to glaciated Eldorado Peak.

Upon reaching Cascade Pass at 3.7 miles, you’ll be rewarded with views deep into the Stehekin River valley. Magic Mountain and Pelton Peak appear near, while Glory Mountain and McGregor rise beyond.

Cascade Pass itself is a jumping off point for bigger adventures, with one trail leading over 20 miles to Stehekin and another terminating at nearby Sahale Glacier. It is an additional 2.2 miles of steep hiking to the glacier from Cascade Pass, so start out early if you want to add Sahale Glacier to the hike to Cascade Pass.

A composting toilet is available via a short, signed side trail from Cascade Pass. Large, flat rocks provide plenty of seating. It can get especially crowded up here on summer weekends, so be prepared for crowds. Once you’ve had your fill of mountain majesty, leave Cascade Pass and hike back the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • Black bears frequent the Cascade Pass area. Never leave food unattended, and be bear aware!
  • Camping is available near the trailhead at Johannesburg Camp, and additionally at Sahale Glacier Camp. A free backcountry permit is required for camping and can be obtained at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount.