Backpacking

Backpacking options in the park run the gamut from short, one-night trips along a river or to a lake or high point, to multi-day treks up valleys and over multiple passes. The region is also known for the multitude of mountaineering opportunities, also from short climbs to lengthy bushwhacking and climbing epics.

Designated Sites and Cross-country Zones

Within the trail corridors, there are almost 140 designated sites. Camping in the trail corridors is allowed only at these camps, which are designed to provide a safe and low-impact camping experience. Most camps are located off the main trail, to provide privacy and a sense of solitude for passing hikers. Each camp has a flat tent pad area, pit or composting toilet, and access to water. Designated camps at lower elevations also have an established fire ring.

Cross-country camping is allowed as well, but must be at least one-half mile from any trail and one mile away from designated camps. Camping is not allowed in alpine meadows or on fragile vegetation, or near water sources. Off-trail hiking can be very challenging in this steep and thickly vegetated terrain. In many areas, hiking one-half mile away from a trail may literally put you on the side of a steep slope, or crossing a swift creek. Most off-trail travel is undertaken by mountaineers with climbing objectives beyond the forested lower slopes. However, adventurous and experienced backpackers will find a wild park with plenty of opportunities to bushwhack, explore your physical boundaries, find solitude, and discover some hidden gems.

For more information on climbing in the park, check out the climbing page.

 
Backcountry Camp Information
Big and Little Beaver Trails
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
39 Mile Pit Hang 3 12
39 Mile Stock Pit Hang 1 12
Beaver Pass Pit Hang 2 12
Beaver Pass Stock Pit Hang 1 4
Luna Pit Hang 2 8
Perry Creek Pit Hang 3 12
Pumpkin Mountain Pit Hang 2 8
Stillwell Pit Hang 4 12
Twin Rocks Pit Hang 2 12
Twin Rocks Stock Pit Hang 1 12

Thunder / Fourth of July /
Fisher / Park Creek Trails
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
Buckner Pit Wire 3 12
Cosho Pit Hang 3 12
Fisher Pit Canister 3 12
Five Mile Stock Pit Wire 2 12
Fourth of July Pit Hang 3 12
Junction Pit Hang/Canister 3 12
Junction Stock Pit Hang 1 12
McAllister Pit Hang 5 12
McAllister Stock Pit Hang 1 12
Neve Pit Hang 3 12
Panther Pit Hang 2 12
Skagit Queen Pit Hang 3 12
Thunder Pit Hang 3 12
Thunder Basin Composter Canister 2 8
Thunder Basin Stock Pit Hang 1 4
Tricouni Pit Hang 2 8
Two Mile Pit Wire 1 6
 
Ross Lake / Diablo Lake / East Bank Trail
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
Big Beaver Vault Box 7 12
Big Beaver Stock Pit Box 1 12
Boundary Bay Vault Box 3 12
Buster Brown Vault Box 3 12
Cat Island Vault Box 4 12
Cougar Island Vault Box 2 12
Deerlick Stock Pit Hang 2 12
Desolation Pit Canister 1 8
Devil’s Creek Pit Hang 3 12
Devil’s Creek Stock Pit Hang 1 12
Devil’s Junction Vault Box 1 8
Dry Creek Vault Box 4 12
Green Point Vault Box 5 12
Hidden Cove Vault Box 1 4
Hidden Hand Pit Hang 1 12
Hidden Hand Stock Pit Hang 1 8
Hozomeen Lake Pit Hang 3 12
Lightning Creek Vault Box 5 12
Lightning Creek Stock Vault Box 2 12
Little Beaver Vault Box 5 12
Lodgepole Vault Box 3 12
May Creek Vault Box 1 6
May Creek Stock Pit Hang 1 8
McMillan Vault Box 3 12
Nightmare Pit Hang 1 12
Ponderosa Vault Box 2 12
Rainbow Point Vault Box 3 12
Roland Creek Pit Hang 3 12
Roland Point Vault Box 1 8
Ruby Pasture Pit Hang 1 6
Silver Creek Vault Box 2 12
Spencer’s Vault Box 2 12
Ten Mile Island Vault Box 3 12
Thunder Point Vault Box 3 12
Willow Lake Pit Hang 1 4
 
Bridge Creek / North Fork / Twisp Pass /
McAlester / Rainbow Lake and Creek / McGregor
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
Bench Creek Pit Hang 3 12
Bowan Pit Hang 2 8
Dagger Lake Pit Wire 1 12
Dagger Lake Stock Pit Wire 1 12
Dan’s Pit Wire 1 4
Fireweed Pit Box 2 12
Fireweed Stock Composter Box 2 12
Grizzly Creek Pit Wire 3 12
Heaton Stock Pit Hang/Canister 1 12
Hidden Meadows Stock Pit Hang 1 12
Hideaway Pit Box 1 12
High Pit Wire 1 4
McAlester Lake Pit Wire 2 12
McAlester Lake Stock Pit Hang 1 8
North Fork Pit Box 2 12
Rainbow Bridge Pit Wire 2 8
Rainbow Ford Pit Hang 1 4
Rainbow Lake Pit Hang 2 8
Rainbow Meadows Pit Hang 1 8
Rainbow Meadows Group Pit Hang 1 12
Rainbow Meadows Stock Pit Hang 1 12
Six Mile Composter Box PCTA PERMIT HOLDERS ONLY
South Fork Pit Box 2 8
South Fork Stock Pit Wire 1 12
Walker Park Stock Pit Wire 1 12
 
Copper Ridge / Chilliwack / Brush Creek Trail
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
Bear Creek Pit Hang 1 4
Boundary Pit Box 3 12
Copper Creek Pit Hang 5 12
Copper Lake Composter Box 3 12
Egg Lake Composter Box 3 12
Graybeal Pit Hang 3 12
Graybeal Stock Pit Hang 1 12
Indian Creek Pit Hang 3 12
Silesia Composter Box 2 8
U.S. Cabin Pit Hang 4 12
U.S. Cabin Stock Pit Hang 1 12
Whatcom Composter Hang/Canister 3 12


Upper Stehekin Valley Trail / Stehekin Road
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
Bridge Creek Vault Box 6 12
Bridge Creek Group Vault Box 2 12
Bridge Creek Stock Vault Box 1 8
Cottonwood Pit Box 3 12
Harlequin * Vault Box 6 12
Harlequin Group * Vault Box 1 24
High Bridge Vault Box 2 12
Park Creek Pit Box 2 8
Purple Point * Flush Box 6 8
Lakeview * Flush Box 8 12
Lakeview Group/Stock * Flush Box 2 12
Shady Vault Box 1 8
Tumwater Vault Box 2 8
 
Cascade Pass / Sahale Arm / Cascade River Road Trails
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
Basin Creek Pit Box 3 12
Johannesburg Pit Hang 3 12
Pelton Basin Composter Box 3 12
Pelton Basin Group Composter Box 1 8
Sahale Glacier Composter Canister 6 12
Monogram Lake Pit Canister 2 8


Boulder / War Creek / Chelan Summit Trails
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
Hooter Pit Canister 1 4
Juanita Lake Composter Hang 2 8
Juanita Lake Stock Pit Hang 1 12
Rennie Pit Wire 1 4
Reynolds Pit Hang 1 4
Reynolds Stock Pit Wire 1 12

Other Trails
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites Max. Size
Pierce Mountain Pit Canister 1 4
Sourdough Pit Canister 1 4
Sulphide Creek Pit Hang 2 12
Thornton Lake Composter Canister 3 12

North Cascades Scenic Highway (State Route 20)

Big Beaver / Little Beaver
Bridge Creek / Old Wagon Trail (Pacific Crest Trail)
Desolation Peak
East Bank / Lightning Creek / Hozomeen Lake
Easy Pass / Fisher Creek
Fourth of July / Panther
Happy Panther
Jack Mountain
McAlester Lake / South Pass
Newhalem Creek
North Fork Bridge Creek
Purple Creek / Juanita Lake (to Stehekin via War Creek)
Rainbow Lake / Rainbow Creek
Sourdough / Pierce Mountain
Stiletto Spur
Thornton Lake
Thunder Creek / Park Creek Pass
Twisp Pass (Dagger Lake)

There are numerous other trails off State Route 20 and to the east of the park, originating in the Okanogan National Forest. Many of these trails enter the park, or provide for enticing loop trips.

 

Cascade River Road

 

Baker Lake Road

  • Baker River Trail

There are other backpacking options in this area, located within the Mount Baker–Snoqualmie National Forest.

 

Mount Baker Highway (Highway 542)

There are numerous other short backpacking options located off this road in the Mount Baker–Snoqualmie National Forest.

 

Stehekin

For information on the Stehekin area, including how to access this unique area of the park and the shuttle bus schedule that serves Stehekin Valley trailheads, visit the Stehekin page.

Agnes Creek (Pacific Crest Trail)
Boulder Creek
Bridge Creek (Pacific Crest Trail)
Cascade Pass / Sahale Arm
Company Creek
Devore Creek
Flat Creek
Goode Ridge
Lakeshore Trail
McAlester Lake / South Pass
McGregor Mountain
North Fork Bridge Creek
Old Wagon (Pacific Crest) Trail
Park Creek Pass / Thunder Creek
Purple Creek / Juanita Lake
Rainbow Creek
Rainbow Lake
Stehekin River
Summit Trail
Upper Stehekin Valley

There are numerous trails in the Glacier Peak Wilderness (Wenatchee National Forest) that link up with trails in the park or provide for excellent loop trips.

 
The Pacific Crest Trail, a designated National Scenic Trail extending from the California/Mexico border to the Washington/Canada border, passes through North Cascades National Park and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area coinciding with the Bridge Creek and other trails. For more information about the Pacific Crest Trail, contact the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
 
The 60-mile portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail which passes through North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake National Recreation Area is a designated National Recreation Trail. The Pacific Northwest Trail stretches from Glacier National Park in Montana to Cape Alava on the Pacific Ocean in Olympic National Park. The portion in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex skirts Ross Lake, goes up the Big Beaver Trail into the Little Beaver drainage and continues west over Whatcom and Hannegan Passes. For more information about this trail contact the Pacific Northwest Trail Association.

Last updated: September 2, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Phone:

(360) 854-7200

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