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Washington Pass Overlook

  • Difficulty
  • 0.4km
  • 6m
  • 0.5h

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The Washington Pass Overlook hike is a must-do for anybody in the North Cascades. This hike takes you on a paved path that leads to incredible Liberty Bell views from the 5,600-foot heights of Washington Pass. This little leg stretch is an excellent way to break up the drive between eastern and western Washington State.

Getting there

From Newhalem, head east on Highway 20 for 42 miles to milepost 162. Turn left onto the signed overlook road.

elevation

Total Gain: 6m

About

Type of Hike Loop
Crowd Levels High
Route Signage Good
Toilets Yes
Family Friendly Yes
Backcountry Campgrounds No
When to Do Spring – Fall (Highway 20 closed during winter)

 Detailed Description

Everyone – even non-hikers – can enjoy the soaring Liberty Bell Mountain views from the top of Washington Pass. A paved path cuts through pine-scented forest to the overlook, where Liberty Bell and Early Winters Spires dominate the view. Peer down on a hairpin turn in Highway 20, some 700 feet below. You can return the way you came for a 5-minute round trip walk, or continue around the loop for additional views.

To turn this walk into a short hike, take the quarter-mile circuit route. From the overlook, follow the path north. This portion of the trail is not wheelchair accessible, as it alternates between dirt and stairs. From the northern high point, Silver Star Mountain is on display, along with countless rugged ridges and spires.

Washington Pass provides an excellent introduction to the North Cascades, showcasing their wild, jagged, sky-piercing peaks. It’s also a learning environment, telling the story of the North Cascades Highway (Highway 20) through interpretive signage. Opened in 1972, the North Cascades Highway is less than 50 years old – and Washington Pass is its highest point. Take your time wandering the path. It’s not difficult to imagine a time when no road existed here, when the wilderness remained wild and free of modern technology.

Insider Hints

  • With easy access for all, the hike to the Washington Pass Overlook is wheelchair accessible, kid-friendly, and leashed dogs are welcome.
  • Birds, squirrels, and other wildlife may beg for food in this heavily-trafficked area. Don’t feed the wildlife!
  • For a longer hike around the back side of Liberty Bell, check out the nearby Blue Lake Trail.