Cascade Pass and Sahale Glacier

Seattle, WA

Trip Highlights

  • Breathtaking Views
  • Amazing Sahale Glacier
  • Backcountry Basecamp
  • Lush Pacific NW Forests
  • Pristine Creeks & Rivers
  • Fascinating Natural & Cultural History

Description

This trip is dominated by the best qualities of the North Cascades: rugged, steep, and beautiful mountains. Over three days, our route takes us up stunning valleys to a series of sub-alpine basins with dramatic views of the jagged peaks and ancient glaciers of the North Cascades. We enjoy pristine meadows, abundant wild huckleberries, and rich wildlife habitat.

Our hike begins with a steep climb up beautiful Cascade Pass, and then back down the other side into a pristine creek, where set up camp for 2-3 nights. From our basecamp, we’ll explore this profoundly stunning area on day hikes. The pinnacle of the trip is a hike to the prominent Sahale Glacier and dramatic views at 7,600 feet. where we’ll eat lunch surrounded by peaks stretched out as far as the eye can see. Finally, on the final day we’ll drop back down, again over Cascade Pass, and descend back to our vehicle, but with a brand new set of views in the opposite direction from Day 1. We’ll soak up some of the most dramatic views the North Cascades have to offer on this 3-4 day exploration that truly is a world-class mountain trek.

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3 Days
$1450 Per Person
4 Days
$1750 Per Person
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-12 Guests
Trip Length: 3-4 Days
Distance: 17+MI / 27+KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 3

Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
This trip follows mostly well maintained trails, but with some very steep sections. We spend 1-2 nights at the same camp, which means our toughest hiking days are with lighter daypacks. Overall it has significant elevation gains/losses on steep trails. There are also sections with moderate heights exposure.

Hiking Distances:

5-7 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs

Terrain:

Moderately Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

2800 ft

Heights Exposure:

Moderate

Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items, and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 35-45 lb backpack for 5-7 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on significantly rugged terrain
  • Hiking with occasional, moderate heights exposure

SOLITUDE LEVEL 3

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this North Cascades National Park hike a solitude 3. You can expect hours of solitude at a time, increasing the farther we get from the trailhead.

Seattle is one of the United States’ most convenient cities to travel to. SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma) Airport is one of the most easily accessed destinations in the country. Many major cities in the United States and internationally offer direct flights into Seattle. Please stay at one of our recommended hotels (coming soon!), all of which have airport shuttles so you do not have to rent a vehicle.

Private Trips

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.75
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.25
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person

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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Day 1

  • Drive time: ~3.5 hours
  • Trailhead: Cascade Pass TH
  • Hiking Distance: 4+ miles (7+ if road remains closed)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700+ feet
  • Elevation Loss: 600+ feet

This multi-day North Cascades National Park hiking trip begins with pick up at your hotel in Seattle, and then a scenic drive into the North Cascades. There are two possible trailheads, depending on whether an access road is open (it’s often closed due to landslides and avalanches.) If the road is closed, we will have 3 miles of quiet, scenic hiking on a narrow gravel road to the official trailhead. If it’s open, we’ll get to camp more quickly and have time for an extra day hike.

Either way, we’ve got a lot of elevation to gain, but we’ll take it switchback by switchback, slowly climbing out of the trees and earning spectacular views of the jagged peaks and glaciers surrounding us. We’ll take a well-deserved break at the stunning Cascade Pass, soaking in the view and the flowers, and then descend into a scenic basin and the headwaters of a prominent North Cascades river, where we’ll set up camp. If the access road is open and time allows, we’ll leave camp and embark on a beautiful day hike to a secondary valley with more breathtaking scenery.

It’s been a big first day, so we’ll cap off tonight with our first delicious backcountry meal and one of the most beautiful night skies you’ve ever seen.

Day 2 (4-day Trip Only)

  • Hiking Mileage: 6-8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000+ feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2,000+ feet

Today we’ll awake to some of the most amazing scenery imaginable and enjoy a hot breakfast. Then we’ll embark on a stunning hike into a subalpine basin with amazing views and waterfalls. Our route takes us back up the trail for half a mile before turning north. Another 1.5 miles will take us to the steep headwalls of a subalpine basin, festooned with flowers, waterfalls and steep granite walls. We’ll have a chance to explore the entrance to a historic mine, search for wildlife, and take in the views, before turning back towards our camp for a restful evening and delicious dinner.

Day 2/3

  • Hiking Distance: 5-6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,800 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2,800 feet

Day 2 is up, up and more up! Luckily, we only need day packs for this hike.  We’ll leave camp early and head back towards Cascade Pass, bidding farewell to our nearby creek and keeping an eye out for bears and marmots as we go. Once we hit the pass, we’ll turn north and continue climbing to the base of a Sahale Glacier. This section has the most stunning views of the hike: dramatic vistas and overlooks of Sahale Glacier and Doubtful Lake. Black bears are commonly sighted on the glacier, as well as marmot, ptarmigans, and more, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled for wildlife.  After a well deserved break and delicious picnic lunch with dramatic mountain landscapes framing our views, we’ll make our way back down one arm of the Sahale Glacier and finally to camp.

Day 3/4

  • Hiking Distance: 4+ miles (7+ if road remains closed)
  • Elevation Gain: 600 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1740
  • Shuttle to Seattle: ~3.5 hours

On our final day we’ll enjoy a slower start, and pack up our camp after a final breakfast together. We’ll wave goodbye to the basin and river that have been our home for 3(4) days and retrace our steps back towards Cascade Pass one last time, then keep descending down the switchbacks to our starting point. We’ll have an abundance of dramatic new views, facing the opposite direction of Day 1, to keep us entertained on our way down, and then we’ll say farewell to the subalpine ecosystem as we drop back into the forest and return to our shuttle. After the hike we’ll hop in the car and head back to Seattle, your hotel, and a real shower and real bed.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes.

Trip Dates & Booking

TRIP DATES & BOOKING

Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book

AVAILABLE TO BOOK

This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast

GOING FAST

This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation

REQUEST A RESERVATION

This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, backcountry sleeping pad and multi-day backpack
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own.
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified North Cascades National Park hiking guide
  • Comprehensive, roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Seattle and back
  • All entrance fees, permits and passes
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)
  • A Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and dependents to a discount of 10% off any Wildland hiking trip after your first one (must book directly with us to receive the discount)!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (see recommendations)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What to Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

What Gear to Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

What Clothes to Bring

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with detailed guidance about what clothes to pack (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and our recommended clothing system. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required.

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How Do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

Your guide will conduct a virtual orientation meeting (via conference call) at 5:00 PM the evening before your trip begins to review the packing list, communicate the first day’s logistics and answer any last minute questions you have. Your guide will give you the phone number for this call during the pre-trip contact approximately 10 days before your trip start date.

Early on the morning of Day 1 your guide will pick you up from your accommodations in Seattle, WA.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day’s pick-up time. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).

Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We’ve developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and all tours carry an emergency communication device. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time…etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides’ off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on North Cascades backpacking trips is 6 guests, with a maximum of 10 guests. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we’ll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in North Cascades National Park

The best hiking weather in the North Cascades is from mid June to late September, when the vast majority of trails (except ones up very high) are snow free. The west side of the Park catches the brunt of storm systems coming in from the Pacific Ocean, making the west side much wetter and more lush. The lower east side tends to be much warmer and drier throughout the summer. The west side receives on average 70+ inches more of precipitation and 400+ more inches of snowfall than the west side. Even with these discrpencies however, summer is a stunning time of year to be in the Cascades, on either side. See below for average temperatures and precipitation in North Cascades National Park:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
Month
High
Low
Precip
June
63°
41°
2.2 in
July
70°
45°
1.7 in
August
70°
45°
1.7 in
September
61°
39°
2.5 in

Accommodations

Accommodations

Backcountry Sleeping

TENT CAMPING

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and synthetic-fill sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

Backcountry Cuisine

FRESH & DELICIOUS

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

Amazing Campsites

IN THE ACTION

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

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