The Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) travels 1,200 miles through Montana, Idaho, and Washington from near the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park to the Pacific Ocean on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. About 63 miles of the trail passes through North Cascades National Park Service Complex, which includes both the National Park and Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
PNT travelers fall into one of three categories:
All overnight stays within North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake National Recreation Area requires a backcountry permit issued by the Park.
We highly encourage PNT hikers to make a reservation ahead of time on Recreation.gov.
Camping along the PNT within North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park Service Complex is one of the premier "wilderness parks" in the lower-48 states, created in 1968 in the aftermath of the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Our permit system is designed to disperse visitors along the trail corridors in order to meet our management goal of protecting wilderness character in the 94% of the National Park Complex that is designated wilderness. Camping is only allowed at designated sites (no dispersed camping), and permits are limited to the number of sites and site capacity of each backcountry camp. Although the PNT corridor is among the busiest in the park, the permit system helps distribute people throughout the corridor, to designated sites that are set off the main trail and away from each other, so that the experience for all hikers is one of solitude, with minimal impact to the corridor's wilderness resources. When PNT hikers camp without a Park permit or at camps that they are not permitted for, they impact other visitors who do have permits by over-filling camps and forcing groups to share camps when they were expecting a higher degree of solitude. This impacts visitors' experience negatively and has the potential to create user group conflicts and/or camping impacts and resource damage along the trail or camps.
Where can I learn more about the Pacific Northwest Trail?
The Pacific Northwest Trail Association website is the central source for PNT information, including planning a PNT journey, trail conditions along the length of the trail, maps and guides, and volunteering to help maintain and manage the PNT.
Last updated: January 25, 2023