• View from Sourdough Mountain Overlook  A view looking down onto Diablo Lake. Photo Credit: NPS/Michael Silverman, 2010.

    North Cascades

    National Park Washington

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  • Ross Dam Haul Road Repair (2014)

    A short segment of the Ross Dam Haul Road between the Diablo Lake trail suspension bridge and the tunnel remains closed to public use due to ongoing repair and rehab work on a portion originally damaged during a March 2010 landslide. More »

  • Notice of Planned Work - Cascade River Road (Fall 2014)

    The Cascade River Road will be closed from September 8 until late October 2014 to all public use (including foot, bicycle, and vehicle traffic) at the Eldorado gate (3 miles from road's terminus) in order to perform permanent road and culvert repairs. More »

Loop Backpacking Trips

Panoramic views abound atop Whatcom Pass on the Beaver Loop. NPS/Michael Silverman
Panoramic views abound atop Whatcom Pass on the Little Beaver Trail.
NPS/Michael Silverman
 
These are four of the most popular loop trips in the park. However, many more loops are possible, by combining neighboring US Forest Service trails with park trails, using a water taxi service on Ross Lake, or staging a vehicle at either end of a long trail. Get out a map—the possibilities are limited only by your imagination!
 

Beaver “Loop”

This moderate, beautiful forested loop combines the best of two old growth valleys: Big Beaver and Little Beaver. Add a day for a side trip to scenic Whatcom Pass, with views of Challenger glacier and peak. This “loop” requires a water taxi either to or from Little Beaver to complete the final leg—there is no connecting trail along Ross Lake that joins Little Beaver landing to another trail. This lower elevation trail is usually snowfree by mid- to late-June.
Total mileage: 34.2 miles (55 km)
Average hiking time: three to four days

 

Rainbow / McAlester Pass Loop

This moderately strenuous loop combines climbs over both McAlester and Rainbow Passes, and two subalpine lakes by the same name, with steep descents into valleys in between. The loop combines the Bridge Creek (Pacific Crest Trail), McAlester Lake, Rainbow Creek and Rainbow Lake trails. Add a day to explore some cross-country (off-trail) areas, especially around McAlester Pass, or to fish. An ice axe may be required to navigate the steep snows that linger on the north side of Rainbow (Bowan) Pass well into July.
Total mileage from State Route 20: 31.5 miles (51 km)
Total mileage from Stehekin: 35.3 miles (57 km)
Average hiking time: four days

 

Copper Ridge / Chilliwack River Loop

This strenuous loop trip combines the best of North Cascades terrain: a rare ridge walk with expansive mountain views, and one of the finest old growth forested hikes in the park, along a salmon river. Follow the US Forest Service Hannegan Pass Trail #674 to Boundary Camp, then either head up to Copper Ridge or down along the Chilliwack River, depending on your permitted itinerary. You will work hard for your views, ascending steeply to the ridge no matter which direction you hike the loop, so plan reasonable mileages. This is an immensely popular area and the sites along Copper Ridge fill quickly—come prepared to be flexible with your first-choice itinerary. An ice axe is required to navigate the steep snows of Copper Ridge until July.
Total mileage: 33.5 miles (54 km)
Average hiking time: four to six days

 

Devil’s Dome Loop

Most of this strenuous loop trip is located in the adjacent Pasayten Wilderness, in the Okanogan National Forest, but the loop completes along the shores of Ross Lake, on the East Bank Trail. Much of this trail is high ridge walking above treeline, as you circumnavigate Jack Mountain. This loop is known for its wonderful wildflower displays and views of the Pasayten, and many other mountains. Begin at the East Bank trailhead, and follow USFS Ruby Creek Trail #736 east, or start at Canyon Creek trailhead. Follow USFS Jackita Ridge Trail #738, to USFS Devil’s Dome Trail #752, and finally return on the East Bank Trail. This high elevation trail often holds the snow until well into the summer months.
Total mileage: 40.4 miles (65 km)
Average hiking time: four to five days

 

Did You Know?

Grizzly bear track in North Cascades National Park (1989). Photo Credit: NPS/NOCA/Roger Christophersen

Grizzly bear tracks can be a reliable indicator of species? Grizzly bear and black bear forepaw tracks are distinct from one another and often times better than a photo of the bear to confirm an observation. So don't just look up, look down.