The granitic rock faces of Cathedral Peak attract shutterbugs to the Pasayten Wilderness and beckon hardy climbers to its 8,601 foot summit. Photo by Alex Maier.
With 150 miles between resupply points, the Pacific Northwest Trail offers an immersive wilderness experience within the 531,000-acre Pasayten Wilderness. Over 600 miles of trails access the Wilderness, and the PNT explores 95 miles of them. The PNT merges with the Boundary Trail, passing through the open, dry plateaus in the Eastern Pasayten to the rugged ridges of the Western half of the Wilderness.
There, two National Scenic Trails meet, as the Pacific Northwest Trail shares thirteen spectacular miles with the Pacific Crest Trail–between Castle Pass and Holman Pass–before resuming its westward journey toward Jack Mountain and the teal glacial waters of Ross Lake.
Equestrians, who enjoy many of the trails here, also play an important role in their maintenance and repair. In wilderness, where regulations do not allow for mechanized equipment, trail work is done exclusively with hand tools and stock animals are used to pack in supplies.
In the Pasayten, naturally-occurring fires have played an important role in forest health, leaving areas of standing snag forests behind. Visitors should be aware that even though annual maintenance is performed on popular trails, others may be unmaintained. They should also expect trails in fire-damaged areas to be obstructed by down trees, which fall regularly in snag forests.
The PNT explores 95 miles of the Pasayten Wilderness, crossing from the open grasslands in the eastern portion of the wilderness to the dramatic peaks in the West. Photo by Ashley Hill.
The Boundary Trail in the Western Pasayten Wilderness. Photo by Michael Sawiel courtesy of Outdoor Project. All rights reserved.
The Devils Ridge Trail offers sweeping views of the iconic peaks of the North Cascades, including Jack Mountain. Photo by Michael Sawiel courtesy of Outdoor Project. All rights reserved.
The glacial-blue tinted waters of Ross Lake are a highlight of the East Bank Trail in the Ross Lake NRA. Photo by Michael Sawiel courtesy of Outdoor Project. All rights reserved.
Wildfire is a natural phenomenon and plays an important role in healthy forests. Fire scars left by the 2006 Tripod Complex fire can be seen from the PNT. Photo by Ashley Hill.
In the western Pasayten Wilderness, the jagged peaks of the North Cascade Mountains dominate the horizon. Photo by Suzanne Wollborg.
9,066 foot Jack Mountain sits at the foot of Ross Lake and the western edge of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Photo by Tyler Yates.