The PNT climbs to dramatic vistas as it works against the grain of the steep Cascade Mountains in the eastern half of Section 7. Here, the trail spans the rainshadow of the Cascades, wending across the Cascade Crest, from the dry Pasayten Wilderness, to the lush temperate rainforests west of the massive range.
Known to some as the “American Alps”, a seemingly endless horizon of majestic peaks define this breathtaking landscape. The North Cascades contain the most active glaciers found in the lower ‘48. At lower elevations, the trail explores ancient forests along river valleys. At higher altitudes, heather meadows surround post-card perfect alpine lakes beneath the towering peaks of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. In this section of trail, visitors climb close enough to see cracks in the mighty volcanoe’s glacier-clad slopes.
Further west, an eclectic collection of hand-made trail markers speak to the history of the PNT – some of the first trails ever constructed by PNTA volunteers can be found in Section 7. This diverse landscape known as the “Cascades to Chuckanuts,” encompasses the foothills of the Cascade range and the teal glacial waters of the Skagit River. In the popular Chuckanut Mountains, sweeping views of the San Juan Islands await travelers heading southwest across the inland sea, known as the Puget Sound.