North Cascades National Park: Easy Pass to Thunder Creek

This 25-mile point-to-point in North Cascades National Park weaves past electric wildflower displays and climbs to an airy, 6,525-foot alpine pass.
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This 25-mile point-to-point in North Cascades National Park weaves past electric wildflower displays and climbs to an airy, 6,525-foot alpine pass.

The North Cascades’ rough and remote reputation keeps even the hint of crowds away, making it a cinch to score big-ticket solitude and scenery even on a short schedule. Here’s your plan, says Wilderness Ranger Rosemary Seifried. Beeline to the easier-access South Unit for this 25-mile highlight reel that weaves past electric wildflower displays in July, climbs to an airy, 6,525-foot alpine pass, and tracks through giant western hemlock and Douglas fir.

Drop a car at the Thunder Creek trailhead before starting at the Easy Pass trailhead (20 minutes southeast of Ross Dam). The trail zigzags along its namesake creek, then scales the eastern flanks of Ragged Ridge, gaining nearly 3,000 feet of elevation to the misleadingly named Easy Pass. At the top, pause for front-row views of Mt. Logan’s glaciated slopes framed by stands of subalpine larch (golden in fall).

Next, descend roughly 30 switchbacks into Fisher Creek Basin—home to black bears and the occasional moose. Just past Fisher Camp, the route dips back into forest on the 11.3-mile stretch to Junction Camp. The next day, descend 10.2 miles north through Thunder Creek Valley to your shuttle car.
PERMIT: Overnight camping in North Cascades National Park requires a free backcountry permit. Get more trip planning details at nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/wilderness-trip-planner.htm.
MORE INFO: North Cascades National Park, (360) 569-2211; nps.gov/noca.
TO TRAILHEAD: Easy Pass trailhead/start: From Marblemount, go 46 miles east on WA 20. Trailhead parking is on the right-hand side.

Thunder Creek trailhead/end: From Marblemount, go 25 miles east on WA 20. Trailhead parking is on the right-hand side.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 37.8

Waypoints

EAS001

Location: 48.588205, -120.803068

East Pass trailhead: Hike south, then southwest.

EAS002

Location: 48.585777, -120.804784

Start switchback climb along Easy Creek, which ascends the eastern flanks of Ragged Ridge. Prepare to gain nearly 3,000 feet of elevation to the misleadingly named Easy Pass.

EAS003

Location: 48.573604, -120.823007

Trail leaves forest. Continue climbing to Easy Pass.

EAS004

Location: 48.572007, -120.843451

Easy Pass: At the top, pause for front-row views of Mt. Logan’s glaciated slopes framed by stands of subalpine larch (golden in fall). Next, descend roughly 30 switchbacks into Fisher Creek Basin—home to black bears and the occasional moose.

EAS005

Location: 48.567989, -120.853499

End of switchback descent. From here, the route turns west and follows Fisher Creek. Fisher Camp is located in this basin.

EAS006

Location: 48.565958, -120.872322

The trail re-enters the forest.

EAS007

Location: 48.562579, -120.908897

Cosho Camp

EAS008

Location: 48.574364, -120.987303

Cross Logan Creek.

EAS009

Location: 48.578226, -120.997818

Rock Cabin

EAS010

Location: 48.584806, -121.018466

Continue straight at 3-way. Junction Camp is located at this intersection with Thunder Creek Trail.

EAS011

Location: 48.67165, -121.068609

Continue straight at 3-way.

EAS012

Location: 48.673573, -121.072203

Turn left and cross footbridge over Thunder Creek.

EAS013

Location: 48.684416, -121.092081

Bear left at Y-junction.

EAS014

Location: 48.688556, -121.096362

Route ends at Thunder Creek trailhead and parking area. Shuttle back to the Easy Pass trailhead.