Planning Your Wilderness Trip

Copper Ridge in September
Copper Ridge offers amazing views and brilliant fall colors. Photo by NPS/K.Doering

Get Started!

There are countless backcountry routes and possibilities in this wild land. The diversity of climate and geography creates very different habitats on the west and east side of the crest, as well as fostering a great array of plants and animals.

Cascading water is fed by over 300 glaciers and countless snowfields. Lakes are abundant. Almost 400 miles (644 km) of trails, mostly in major drainages and over high passes, traverse this tremendous landscape.

Your path may follow a route used for many centuries by people who have long crossed these mountains or sought food and resources here, or you may venture to an area so wild it feels as if you are the first explorer.

To learn about trails, backcountry camps, mileage and more, use the Wilderness Trip Planner map.

 

Backcounty Camp Information

See below for more information about camp sizes, food storage requirements, and campfire rules. Group size is limited to protect wilderness values. The size limit is 12 within all trail corridors and camps, and in cross-country zones around Shuksan, Eldorado, and Forbidden peaks. The limit is six for the remainder of the cross-country zones. Size limits include people and stock. Due to natural terrain constraints in some places, not all camps can accommodate 12 people.

Camp Toilet    Food Storage    Sites       Max. Size       Notes
39 Mile Pit Hang 4,4,4 4  
39 Mile Stock Pit Hang 12 12  
Beaver Pass Pit Hang 4,12 12  
Beaver Pass Stock     Pit Hang 4 4  
Luna Pit Hang 4,4 4  
Perry Creek Pit Hang 4,4,12 12  
Pumpkin Mountain Pit Hang 4,4 4  
Stillwell Pit Hang 4,4,4,4 4  
Twin Rocks Pit Hang 6,6 6  
Twin Rocks Stock Pit Hang 12 12  
Camp Toilet Food Storage    Sites Max. Size       Notes
Buckner Pit Wire 4,4,4 4  
Cosho Pit Hang 4,4,4 4  
Fisher Pit Canister 4,4,4 4 No Campfires, Bear Canister Required
Five Mile Stock Pit Wire 6,6 6  
Fourth of July Pit Hang 4,4,4 4 No Campfires
Junction Pit Hang/Canister 4,4,4 4  
Junction Stock Pit Hang 12 12  
McAllister Pit Hang 4,4,4,4,12     12  
McAllister Stock Pit Hang 12 12  
Neve Pit Hang 4,4,4 4  
Panther Pit Hang 12 12  
Skagit Queen Pit Hang 4,4,4 4  
Thunder Pit Hang 4,4,12 12  
Thunder Basin Composter     Canister 4,4 4 No Campfires, Bear Canister Required
Thunder Basin Stock    Pit Hang 4 4  
Tricouni Pit Hang 4,4 4  
Two Mile Pit Wire 6 6  
Camp Toilet      Food Storage     Sites Max. Size     Notes
Big Beaver Vault Box 8,8,8,8,8,8,12     12  
Big Beaver Stock Pit Box 12 12  
Boundary Bay Vault Box 8,8,12 12  
Buster Brown Vault Box 4,4,4 4  
Cat Island Vault Box 4,4,4,12 12  
Cougar Island Vault Box 6,6 6  
Deerlick Stock Pit Hang 6,6 6  
Desolation Pit Canister 8 8 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Devil’s Creek Pit Hang 4,4,4 4  
Devil’s Creek Stock Pit Hang 12 12  
Devil’s Junction Vault Box 8 8  
Dry Creek Vault Box 4,4,4,12 12  
Green Point Vault Box 4,4,8,8,12 12  
Hidden Cove Vault Box 4 4  
Hidden Hand Group Pit Hang 12 12  
Hidden Hand Stock Pit Hang 8 8  
Hozomeen Lake Pit Hang 4,4,12 12  
Lightning Creek Vault Box 8,8,8,8,12 12  
Lightning Creek Stock  Vault Box 8,8 8  
Little Beaver Vault Box 4,8,8,8,12 12  
Lodgepole Vault Box 8,8,8 8  
May Creek Vault Box 6 6  
May Creek Stock Pit Hang 8 8  
McMillan Vault Box 8,8,12 12  
Nightmare Group Pit Hang 12 12  
Ponderosa Vault Box 12,12 12  
Rainbow Point Vault Box 8,8,8 8  
Roland Creek Pit Hang 4,4,12 12  
Roland Point Vault Box 8 8  
Ruby Pasture Pit Hang 6 6  
Silver Creek Vault Box 8,12 12  
Spencer’s Vault Box 8,8 8  
Ten Mile Island Vault Box 4,4,4 4  
Thunder Point Vault Box 4,4,4 4  
Willow Lake Pit Hang 4 4  
Camp Toilet Food Storage   Sites Max. Size   Notes
Bench Creek Pit Hang 4,12 12  
Bowan Pit Hang 6,6 6  
Dagger Lake Group Pit Wire 12 12  
Dagger Lake Stock Pit Wire 12 12  
Dan’s Pit Wire 4 4  
Fireweed Pit Box 6,6 6  
Fireweed Stock Composter   Box 8,12 12  
Grizzly Creek Pit Wire 4,4,4 4  
Heaton Stock Pit Hang/Canister 12 12 No Campfires
Hidden Meadows Stock Pit Hang 12 12  
Hideaway Group Pit Box 12 12  
High Pit Wire 4 4 No Campfires
McAlester Lake Pit Wire 4,8 8  
McAlester Lake Stock Pit Hang 8 8  
North Fork Pit Box 4,12 12  
Rainbow Bridge Pit Wire 4,4 4  
Rainbow Ford Pit Hang 4 4  
Rainbow Lake Pit Hang 4,4 4 No Campfires
Rainbow Meadows Pit Hang 8 8  
Rainbow Meadows Group    Pit Hang 12 12  
Rainbow Meadows Stock Pit Hang 12 12  
Six Mile Composter Box PCTA PERMIT HOLDERS ONLY  
South Fork Pit Box 4,4 4  
South Fork Stock Pit Wire 12 12  
Walker Park Stock Pit Wire 12 12  
Camp Toilet Food Storage    Sites Max. Size    Notes
Boundary Pit Box 4,4,4 4 No Campfires
Copper Creek Pit Hang 4,4,4,4,4    4  
Copper Lake Composter    Box 4,4,4 4 No Campfires
Egg Lake Composter Box 4,4,4 4 No Campfires
Graybeal Pit Hang 4,4 4  
Graybeal Stock Pit Hang 12 12  
Indian Creek Pit Hang 4,4,4 4  
Silesia Composter Box 4,4 4 No Campfires
U.S. Cabin Pit Hang 4,4,4,4 4  
U.S. Cabin Stock   Pit Hang 12 12  
Whatcom Composter Hang/Canister 4,4,4 4 No Campfires
Camp Toilet Food Storage    Sites Max. Size    Notes
Basin Creek Pit Box 4,4,4 4 No Campfires
Cottonwood Pit Box 6,12 12  
Johannesburg Pit Hang 4,4,4 4 No Campfires
Pelton Basin Composter    Box 4,4,4,12 12 No Campfires
Sahale Glacier    Composter Canister 4,4,4,4,4,4   4 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Camp Toilet    Food Storage     Sites Max. Size    Notes
Bridge Creek Vault Box 4,4,4,4   4  
Bridge Creek Group    Vault Box 12,12 12  
Bridge Creek Stock Vault Box 8 8  
High Bridge Vault Box 4,12 12  
Park Creek Pit Box 4,4 4  
Shady Vault Box 8 8  
Tumwater Vault Box 6,6 6  
Camp Toilet Food Storage Sites    Max. Size     Notes
Hooter Pit Canister 4 4 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Juanita Lake Composter   Hang 4,4 4 No Campfires
Juanita Lake Stock   Pit Hang 12 12 No Campfires
Rennie Pit Wire 4 4  
Reynolds Pit Hang 4 4  
Reynolds Stock Pit Wire 12 12  
Camp Toilet Food Storage      Sites Max. Size      Notes
Pierce Mountain    Pit Canister 4 4 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Sourdough Pit Canister 4 4 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Sulphide Creek Group  Pit Hang 12 12  
Thornton Lake Composter      Canister 4,4,4        4 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Monogram Lake Pit Canister 4,4 4 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Cross Country Zone Toilet Food Storage  Sites Max. Size Notes
Boston Basin Composter    Canister 12,12,12,12,12,12  12 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required 
Eldorado Composter Canister 12,12,12,12,12,12 12 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Hidden Lake None Canister 12,12,12 12 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Price None Hang 12,12,12,12,12,12 12 No Campfires
Sulphide Composter Canister 12,12,12,12,12,12 12 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Tapto Lakes None Canister 6,6,6 6 No Campfires, Bear Canisters Required
Triumph None Hang/Canister 6,6 6 No Campfires
 

Learn and Explore

Trip Resources

To help plan your trip, consider these questions: How many days in the backcountry are you planning? How many miles and how much elevation gain would you like to hike each day? What type of terrain do you most want to see? Consider the physical condition and experience level of all in your group. Check trail and snow conditions via phone or web, and review your plans with a ranger when you pick up your permit.

When to Visit

Low elevation trails are most visited between April and October, with the driest weather from mid-June to September. Visitation to the highcountry (above 5,000 feet/ 1524 m) is greatest after the snows melt, generally from July through early October. The best snow mountaineering conditions are often June and July. The park is open year round, but heavy winter precipitation limits road access and increases backcountry hazards between November and March.

 
 

More Trip Planning Tools

  • Trail Conditions

    General conditions and a trail-by-trail list of the most recent conditions reports.

  • Food Storage Requirements

    It's mandatory to store food and other smellables so that it is safe from wildlife. Learn how & why to do it properly.

  • Wilderness Mountaineering

    Find resources for planning a climbing trip, including recent conditions for many peaks.

  • Hiking with pets

    Bring your dog? Pets are only allowed on certain trails under certain conditions.

  • Pacific Crest Trail

    Information for traveling along the Pacific Crest Trail through North Cascades National Park.

  • Pacific Northwest Trail

    Information for traveling along the Pacific Northwest Trail through North Cascades National Park

Last updated: April 18, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley , WA 98284

Phone:

360 854-7200

Contact Us

Stay Connected