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Wildflowers at Maple Pass

North Cascades NP: Most Rugged Mountains in the Lower 48

The North Cascades National Park is home to some of the most rugged mountains in the Lower 48, and is home to more glaciers than any other national park outside of Alaska!

Hiking Moderate, Difficult

Wildflowers at Maple Pass
Wildflowers at Maple Pass Photo: Andy Porter


North Cascades National Park is home to some of the most rugged mountains in the Lower 48 states! The park is known for "jagged peaks, deep forested valleys, cascading waterfalls, and over 300 glaciers — more than any other U.S. park outside of Alaska," according to NationalParks.org. Most of this majestic beauty is protected by a massive 500,000-acre wilderness area, meaning you'll have to set out on your own two feet if you want to experience it.

This guidebook rounds up seven of the most beautiful hikes in all of North Cascades National Park. The highlight is undoubtedly the Cascade Pass Trail, which provides an otherworldly 15-mile point-to-point hike down a stunning mountain valley! An alternative to the long distance point-to-point is to hike an out-and-back hike to the Sahale Arm of the Sahale Glacier, high on the side of (you guessed it) Sahale Mountain.

For an even lengthier point-to-point backpacking route, Fisher Creek to Thunder Creek via Easy Pass covers almost 23 miles of alpine trails... but it's anything but easy. Stepping up from there, the Copper Ridge Loop covers over 35 miles!

Three shorter, more achievable routes that still provide epic views are the Chain Lakes Loop, Maple Pass Loop, and Thornton Lakes. While some hikers choose to turn Thornton Lakes into a backpacking trip, it is still manageable as a stiff day hike.

These seven stunning hikes provide some of the best mountain views in the Lower 48, and they're still just the crème de la crème of the hiking in the North Cascades National Park. Dig even deeper, and you'll uncover a treasure trove of hidden gems!

Sources: EarthTrekkers.com NationalParks.org PlanetWare.com

Routes included

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