North Cascades National Park in Washington state

Joey

walking somewhere
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Apr 1, 2014
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878
I have been wanting to visit this park for a long time, and am planning a trip there this summer. I got the trails illustrated map for Christmas today, and there actually doesn't look like there are that many trails inside the park. The surrounding wilderness areas have more trails though, and I think I can come up with a nice loop combining them.

I have also read on the NPS site that you can camp in undesignated camp sites, as long as your 1/2 mile from the trail. There appears to be several cross country route possibilities. I'm comfortable on steep snow, and scrambling on exposed routes, although I'm not looking for a technical route.

I can spend anywhere from 7 to 10 days on a trip, and would prefer to do a loop, even if it involves walking some roads.

If anyone has any advice, route suggestions, or info on this park I would love hearing it. Thanks!
 

Kullaberg63

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Mar 6, 2014
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North Cascades and surrounding wilderness areas are pretty impressive. It's the third big range of the west, and arguably the most diverse, but also one whose secrets are the hardest to unlock. I lived in the area for almost a decade, focusing mostly on the eastside trailheads.

Snowpack have a large effect on summer hiking, not only in the high country. Run-off is swift and at times violent in early season, often washing away hiker made creek crossing structures. Some routes thus become impossible or too dangerous to attempt.

The range have very few sizeable high plateaus, with expansive views and gratifying multi day sub alpine travel 'Sierra style', but mostly is comprised of deep low elevation valleys cutting far into the mountains, and ringed by precipitous jagged peaks.
These long river valleys, providing the access routes to the elusive dots of high country, are heavily forested with little change in elevation and sometimes feel like they go on forever.

Cross country routes are possible, especially towards the eastern side of the range where the foliage is not quite so impenetrable. Attempts by less experienced northwest travelers often descends into frustrating 500'/hour bushwhacks. It is highly recommended to stick to established trails and routes until well into the sub alpine.

Contrary to most commentary found, summer weather is characterized by long unbroken spells of bluebird high pressure. The daily occurence of scary afternoon thunderstorms so common to the Rockies does typically not happen in the Cascades.

Wolves and grizzlies are starting to reappear, but not yet in numbers needing to cause worry.
 

andyjaggy

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Joined
Dec 2, 2013
Messages
925
Lucky dog. I was able to get a very small taste of this area this past summer, and really want to get back. From everything I have seen it is a very impressive range, though it seems as others have stated it takes a lot of work to get to the best parts.
 

Joey

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Apr 1, 2014
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878
Thanks for all the replies. The places looks incredible. I've been looking at the PCT section just east of the park. I'm thinking I may try to for a loop by combing the PCT with section of trail in the southern sector of the Park, as well as the trails east of Ross Lake. I'm going to end up spending more than 10 days there. Too much to see.

The Picket range looks awesome, and seems like something to shoot for in the future as a mountaineering route.
 
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Ben

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Joey, i've never been, but i have a couple books that address the area. two books describe twenty some hikes around the world or the continent, and each includes one in north cascades. i have another book that describes longer treks in washington state, many going through the pasayten wilderness, some of them crossing into north cascades. if you want to take a look at them some time, let me know. i have a brother in provo, and i'll be coming through utah a few times through this spring.

any way. there are a couple routes that i've looked at doing there. if i went, i might be inclined to take the boat up ross lake to the little beaver trail, follow it up to whatcom pass and across, and then make a loop (a lollipop) of chilliwack river, and the ridge above it, before going back across whatcom pass, and taking big beaver back down to the lake and to the trail head. right past the picket range. i'd also be pretty interested in hiking down from diablo lake to stehekin, and then looping back up with a section of the pacific crest trail. east of ross lake, loop options appear to be just about endless. and the drier high country there looks like it might be nice.

but more than any thing i'll be interested to hear your experience, what ever it is. i've been thinking about this since you first posted it.
 

Joey

walking somewhere
Joined
Apr 1, 2014
Messages
878
Joey, i've never been, but i have a couple books that address the area. two books describe twenty some hikes around the world or the continent, and each includes one in north cascades. i have another book that describes longer treks in washington state, many going through the pasayten wilderness, some of them crossing into north cascades. if you want to take a look at them some time, let me know. i have a brother in provo, and i'll be coming through utah a few times through this spring.

any way. there are a couple routes that i've looked at doing there. if i went, i might be inclined to take the boat up ross lake to the little beaver trail, follow it up to whatcom pass and across, and then make a loop (a lollipop) of chilliwack river, and the ridge above it, before going back across whatcom pass, and taking big beaver back down to the lake and to the trail head. right past the picket range. i'd also be pretty interested in hiking down from diablo lake to stehekin, and then looping back up with a section of the pacific crest trail. east of ross lake, loop options appear to be just about endless. and the drier high country there looks like it might be nice.

but more than any thing i'll be interested to hear your experience, what ever it is. i've been thinking about this since you first posted it.
Thanks Ben, let me know if you come through SLC. I would definitely like to take a look at those books.

I'm basically looking at those areas you pointed out. I've come up with one gigantic loop that I can modify when I know for sure how much time I have to do this. I've thought about starting at the bottom of Ross Lake, hiking up Big Beaver Creek, doing the lollipop loop of Chilliwack/Copper Ridge, then coming back to Ross Lake. At the Little Beaver camp I would have the Shuttle pre paid to pick me up and take me across the lake. I also want to see if I can have them bring me a food resupply. Once across the lake, I would take the Castle Pass trail to the PCT. I would take the PCT all the way down to Rainy Pass and then into the southern section of the park. I would connect over to Park Creek, and then head north, either to Diablo Lake or over 4th of July pass.

There is so many different variations I can make with that loop. Several different places to start it as well. It all just depends on how much time I have to do this. That's over 200 miles right there, and I would want 2 weeks, probably more, to do it. I'm really not wanting to do that many 10 plus mile days anymore. I would rather enjoy the mountains instead of rushing through them. I could also just split this big loop into smaller trips.

Everything starts with the snowpack this year over in the northern Rocky Mountains. I have several trips I have to do in Glacier/Yellowstone this year, and if I can get them done before August, I would have 3 weeks to spend in the Cascades. But at the minimum I will have 10 days. Its one of those things were I probably won't know for sure what I'm doing until August.

And your welcome to come along.
 

beef

New Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2015
Messages
2
I'm planning a trip in September as well. Early stages still. Post your insights as you go along, and I will as well.
 
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