Above:  Twin Sisters, Morning Light. Photo by Alex Maier.

North Cascades, Section 7

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 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.

Hikers and Mount Shuksan
Hikers in the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest beneath Mount Shuksan. Photo by Alex Maier.
Hikers in the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie NF beneath Mount Shuksan. Photo by Alex Maier.

Ross Lake NRA to Oyster Dome
196 mi (315 km)
Highest Point: 5,240’
Elevation Gain/ Loss:  +25,757’ / -27,337’

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ancient forests and alpine meadows
  • North Cascades NP
  • Panorama Dome
  • Mt. Baker
  • Park Butte Lookout
  • Baker Lake
  • Baker Hot Springs
  • Scrambling on Mt Josephine
  • Oyster Dome and the British Army Trail

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

  • Camping in Section 7 requires planning ahead
  • Permits are required to camp in North Cascades NP
  • The PNT passes through private property and county parks – these areas are day-use only
  • Follow WA DNR rules for dispersed camping on State Forests
  • Check PNTA Trail Alerts for possible trail closures before you go
  • Check current campfire and stove restrictions before you go
  • Proper food storage for black bear habitat is required
  • Grizzly bear encounters are possible (but unlikely) in the N Cascades Ecosystem

PUBLIC LANDS:

North Cascades National Park Complex
Mt Baker-Snoqualmie NF
Harry Osborne-Les Hilde State Forest
Alger State Forest
Squires Lake Park – Whatcom County Parks
Blanchard Mountain State Forest
Cascade Trail – Skagit County Parks

 

SPECIAL HAZARDS

  • Black bears
  • Hazardous ford at Swift Creek
  • Mountain weather
  • Rugged trail conditions
  • Bushwhacking
  • Motorized routes
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