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North Cascades National Park Trails

North Cascades National Park, in the state of Washington, features some of North America’s alpine mountain landscapes, most of which are seen only by a handful of backpackers. The park was established in 1968, totals 504,781 acres and receives about 20,000 visitors annually – very few compared to other national parks in Washington State, such as Olympic National Park. North Cascades National Park contains part of the Cascade mountain range, and is famous for its varied ecology and 317 glaciers – the most of any park in the contiguous United States. In the past several decades, every glacier in the park has receded and some have disappeared entirely, which experts attribute to global climate change.

The park is most popular among backpackers and mountaineers. Though few mountains in the North Cascades are over 10,000 feet, the low elevation of the valleys creates sharp relief, with an elevation change of 6,000 feet between the peaks and valleys. The Cascade Range continues south from the North Cascades National Park, and includes massive stratovolcanoes like Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens.

The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail runs north to south through the North Cascades National Park. The trail, which runs 2,663 miles from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, crosses Cascade Pass and offers views of many of the peaks in the North Cascade Range.

North Cascades National Park: Cascade Pass

Satisfy your wanderlust on this 5.4-mile out-and-back, which offers stop-and-gawk panoramas of the jagged Cascades blanketed by glaciers.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area: Rainbow Falls Loop

Travel by boat to a 7.2-mile loop in the North Cascades that features vibrant wildflowers, a rocky overlook above Lake Chelan, and a 300-foot waterfall.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area: Coon Lake

Climb above the Stehekin River Valley, passing rugged cliffs and bird’s-eye views, to a remote mountain lake at the foot of McGregor Mountain.

North Cascades National Park: Agnes Gorge

This 7.9-mile out-and-back in North Cascades National Park links massive old-growth cedars, a photogenic gorge, and waterfall overlooks.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area: Stehekin to Moore Point via Chelan Lakeshore Trail

This lifelist trip packs in two adventures: an outrageously scenic ferry ride and a remote 14-mile out-and-back hike in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.

Ross Lake National Recreation Area: Pyramid Lake

This short trail between Gorge and Diablo Lakes climbs steadily to a small pocket lake filled with floating “gardens” and great views of Pyramid Peak.

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.

North Cascades National Park: Copper Ridge to Big Beaver Trail

Come for the sheer, glaciated peaks, but be mesmerized by rain-fed waterfalls that pour down on all sides along this weeklong trip in North Cascades National Park.

North Cascades National Park: Chain Lakes Loop

A great 6.5-mile dayhike on a loop that provides spectacular views of Mts. Baker and Shuksan as it winds through a chain of alpine lakes.

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