PCT: Harts Pass to Canada Border

Miles 2622-2652.6 of the northbound PCT: The homestretch to Canada, along the Cascade Crest among golden larches and victorious views.

Also in Washington, United States of America

Hiking Moderate

Distance
48 km
Ascent
1.8 km
Descent
2.3 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
2.2 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
PCT: Harts Pass to Canada Border Map

Description

This is the final stretch of trail to Canada, from remote road access at Harts Pass to an isolated border crossing called Monument 78. It’s a predictably beautiful expanse of the North Cascades, though the scenery is less dramatic than what lies to the south. In good weather, these 30 miles make for easy and scenic final days on the trail.

From Harts Pass, the PCT contours beneath a dirt road for a little while, climbing gently on meadowy slopes with wide-open views of the yawning valley below. Beneath Slate Peak, it levels out and then starts a downward trend, but stays high near the crest for quite a few miles. Grand views persist over the horizons of mountains that roll on seemingly forever.

At Windy Pass, the trail enters the Pasayten Wilderness (NB mile 2627.2), and soon afterward, there’s a beautiful campsite beneath Tamarack Peak with a seasonal stream (NB mile 2627.8). From there, a brief ascent goes over a shoulder of the mountain. Then, a few switchbacks lead down into the trees on Foggy Pass. From this pass, it’s still mostly downhill, with only a few short climbs on the way to much-lower Holman Pass. Along the way are some scattered campsites and seasonal water in Shaw Creek (NB mile 2632.2). The distinctive larch trees and subalpine fir give way to thicker and more diverse forests as the trail descends.

Some other trails converge at Holman Pass (NB 2635.5), and from there, PCT trends uphill again. It’s a gradual climb of a few miles to Rock Pass (NB mile 2639), where the trail crosses onto steep, barren slopes. The cliffs of Powder Mountain tower overhead, and an avalanche-streaked valley stretches below. Rocky switchbacks lead up to another pass (NB mile 2641.6), and then a long contour takes the trail to a minor peak along the crest (NB mile 2644.7). After that, it’s all downhill to the Canada border.

From this peak, the trail follows an airy ridge, overlooking an alpine bowl with a circular lake. A spur trail leads down to this Hopkins Lake (NB mile 2646.2) for those seeking water or a prime place to camp. The next several miles go through mountainside forest with some seasonal creeks. At Castle Pass is a trail junction that leads to Ross Lake (NB mile 2648.9). Though it’s not a short walk, this provides a way to exit the PCT without crossing into Canada.

From there, it’s just a few more miles to Monument 78 (NB mile 2652.6), which is a small metal obelisk on the US-Canada border. There are many such monuments spread along the imaginary line, and this one happens to be numbered 78. It’s accompanied by the larger posts that mark the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. From this spot, it’s necessary to either backtrack on the PCT or continue north into Manning Park (NB mile 2661.4), and negotiate transportation from there. The remaining 8 miles to Manning Park go uphill and then down, over a forested ridge and low pass. The trail meets a minor road and then Highway 3, with a lodge and restaurant nearby.

Permits: The Pasayten Wilderness requires permits for entry, but these are free and self-issued at trailheads. Continuing past Monument 78 into Canada is not allowed without a Canada PCT Entry Permit. These were not issued for the 2021 season, and may or may not become available in 2022. If you don’t have the permit, you will need to turn around and exit the PCT another way.

Sources: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/okawen/recarea/?recid=79431 https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/maps/ https://pctmap.net/trail-notes/

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

July, August, September, October

Features

  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area