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.
- Trail Guide - Brief descriptions of most trails in the park
- Check trail conditions
- Check road, lake, car-camping, and ranger station status
- Backcountry Permit requirements
- Backcountry food storage - Information on protecting wildlife and storing food properly
- Hiking with pets
- Planning a climb? - Everything mountaineers need to know to plan a climb in the Cascades, including climbing route conditions, safety, and more
- Information for Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) or Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT) hikers
- Backcountry camp capacity guide - Size capacity and facilities for every backcountry camp
- Cross-country travel zones guide
- Plan for Safety - Learn about weather, bear safety, snow hazards, trip essentials and more
- Touch the Wilderness Gently - Learn the best ways to be a good steward of these lands
- The Enduring Legacy of Wilderness - What is Wilderness and why does it matter to you?
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.