North Cascades Classic

Seattle, WA
5.0 (9 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • BIG Mountain Views
  • Abundant Wildlife
  • Stunning Views
  • Seasonal Waterfalls
  • Mountain Solitude
  • Exciting Cable Car Crossing


The North Cascades Classic is an adventure into the remote wilderness of one of the least visited national parks in the USA due to its rugged backcountry. With over 7,000 feet of total elevation gain and loss in just under 35 miles, this trip is sure to put your knees and heart to the test, but the views are truly worthwhile. Old-growth forests and glacier-fed streams are punctuated by snow-covered peaks and alpine passes as we climb high and go deep into the backcountry. Wildflowers in early summer and wild berries right before fall make it a beautiful — and delicious — trip all summer long. A suspension bridge and cable car crossing over an iconic Pacific Northwest river add to the excitement of this trip, as does the wildlife — bears, salmon, and more are common in this remote corner of the North Cascades.

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From USD
$2035 Per Person
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 1-10 Guests
Trip Length: 5 Days
Distance: 35MI / 56KM


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

This trips follows mostly well maintained trails, with some rocky and and challenging route finding. This trip has significant elevation gains and losses which is why it’s rated Difficulty Level 4.

Hiking Distances:

5-10 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs


Moderately Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

2500 ft

Heights Exposure:


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.


  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 35-45 lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on moderately rugged terrain
  • Hiking with occasional, moderate heights exposure
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.


1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this North Cascades National Park hike a solitude 4. You can expect to see a couple other groups of hikers per day.

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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Day 1

  • Shuttle to the trailhead: 3.5 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: 10.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2000 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2400 feet

This multi-day North Cascades guided backpacking trip begins with a pick up at your hotel in Seattle, and then a scenic drive into the snowy mountains of the North Cascades. Finally we’ll arrive at the trailhead, mere miles from the Canadian border in the stunning Mount Baker Wilderness. After we’ve had a good stretch and adjusted our packs appropriately, we’ll begin our trek uphill along a pristine mountain creek toward a stunning mountain pass. Once we’ve crested the pass, we’ll take in our first views of the amazing river valley below us and surrounding peaks. This is the North Cascades at its finest, as we gaze out at steep, glacial-carved mountains; deep, forested valleys; jagged peaks; modern glaciers and more!  After soaking up the views and a well deserved mid-afternoon snack, we’ll descend to our first night’s camp along an iconic North Cascades river.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet

On the second day, we’ll enjoy some extra sleep in the morning followed by a delicious, hearty breakfast. After a big Day 1, Day 2 can be slower paced, allowing our bodies to recover before another big hike on Day 3. When we are ready, we’ll continue to follow our beautiful Pacific Northwest river through old growth forests, as we travel deeper into the backcountry up a glacier-carved valley. Once we hit a second mountain creek, we’ll turn south towards  our campsite for the night. We’ll set up camp and have some time to relax, read, explore around camp or simply soak up the beauty of our surroundings. We’ll cap off this recovery day with another hot meal and enchanting evening in the wilderness.

Day 3

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

Day 3 is the pinnacle of this trip, as we ascend to a spectacular, remote mountain pass with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. We’ll get an early start and leave our camp and heavy packs behind. Our hike ascends switchback after switchback up toward the pass, and the farther we progress the more amazing our views become. Once we’ve crested the pass we will finally be rewarded with stunning views of beautiful alpine lakes and the dramatic Picket Range of the North Cascades. After a celebratory lunch on the pass, we’ll gradually descend 2,000 feet back down, keeping our eye out for ripe berries (depending on the season) and every so often sneak a look back at the pass and what we’ve accomplished. Once back at camp we’ll enjoy a hearty dinner and get a well deserved rest.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 4 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 500 feet

Day 4 is back to small ups and downs and exciting river crossings as we retrace our steps toward the river valley from Day 2 and our first night’s camp. Early on in the day, we’ll descend the valley to cross a footbridge over a creek, then leave it behind to join the a much larger river. After some dense forest hiking (on a trail) we’ll cross back over the river on the cable car. We’ll gradually climb up the valley to our final night’s camp, where we’ll soak up one last evening in the wilderness and celebrate with a delicious dinner.

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 10.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,400 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2,000 feet
  • Shuttle to Seattle: 3.5 hours

On our last day we’ll push up the valley toward the mountain pass from Day 1, but enjoy all new scenery as we are facing the opposite direction the entire time. Once we’ve made it back up the pass, we’ll take in our last dramatic alpine views, and then descend back into the forest, past a majestic creek to the trailhead where our vehicle awaits us. After sorting out our gear and saying goodbye to the trail, we’ll head back to Seattle and drop you at your hotel, where a hot shower and a soft bed will accompany your deep sense of satisfaction and pride from completing an epic North Cascades adventure.

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


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

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


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


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
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • 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)

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, 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)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

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!

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.

Travel to Seattle

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.

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 Precautions

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. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

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.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip 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)
2.2 in
1.7 in
1.7 in
2.5 in



Backcountry Sleeping


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


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


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.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (9 reviews)
Wendy S

Exceeded All of My Expectations

3 years ago

I went on the North Cascades Classic backpacking trip with Ron as our guide. We had a great group and Ron made sure we all worked as a team. After a long day of hiking, with Ron carrying at least 70lbs in his own pack, his real work began at camp. At camp he gathered and filtered water for cooking, cleaning and filling our drinking bottles. He prepared meals for a diverse group with different dietary restrictions. Then he would clean everything up, hang the bear bag and stow all the bear canisters away from camp. In the mornings he would prepare a great breakfast to start our day! Ron has my utmost respect! This trip exceeded all of my expectations. I can't wait to schedule my next adventure with Wildland Trekking!

Gregory A

Great Trip!

3 years ago

Great trip! Ron was an excellent guide. He was extremely well prepared, helpful, knowledgeable, and a darn good cook! This was my second trip with Wildland and I’m looking forward to my next one!

Jody H

Trip was Excellent

3 years ago

This is my 3rd trip with Wildland, and as always, the service was excellent. Although I have my own gear, I always use the provided gear on my trips with Wildland because it is of such high quality and brand name. I know it will work well in the back country. Also, the quality of the food was amazing and it was obvious that Darrek had put much time and effort into planning our trip’s menu. Every meal was fresh and delicious; I took notes on what he served in hopes of improving my own camping meal experience. At the end of the trip we had an unforecasted 7 hour delay of pickup - in the rain - and Darrek ensured we were warm, full and still in high spirits. In a situation where he had little control, he ensured we were still taken care of. Overall the trip was excellent and I will be a return customer for a 4th trip some time in the future.

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