Above: Remmel Mountain in the Pasayten Wilderness. Photo by Tyler Yates.
Pasayten Wilderness, Section 6
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.
Cold Springs (Loomis, WA) to Ross Lake NRA
119 mi (192 km)
Highest Point: 7,580’
Elevation Gain/ Loss: +23,734’ / -28,143’
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Proper food storage for black bear habitat is required
- Alcohol and twig burning stoves are banned in the Okanogan NF
- The Loomis NRCA is day-use only and pets are not allowed
- Grizzly bear encounters are possible (but unlikely) in the N Cascades Ecosystem
- Rare wildlife: lynx, bighorn sheep, mountain goats
- Horseshoe Basin
- Hike two NSTs at the same time – PCT and PNT
- Devils staircase
- Devils dome
- Ross Lake
Loomis Natural Resource Conservation Area
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Ross Lake National Recreation Area
North Cascades National Park Complex
The weather and climate across the trail corridor can vary greatly by geographic area, elevation, and season. The major mountain ranges of the PNT create rain shadows. This effect creates drier and warmer east sides, that can approach desert-like climates, and much cooler and wetter west sides that include rain forests.
“Against the Grain” is the unofficial slogan of the PNT, with good reason. This rugged, 1,200 mile route climbs over seven mountain ranges and it presents some unique challenges along the way. For those uncomfortable with hazardous situations, there are many trails on the PNT that are accessible to a wide range of visitors.
The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail travels through many different public and private lands. You can help to protect our natural resources, and the quality of the experience. Respect private property and learn the regulations of the area you are visiting.
The PNT travels through some of our wildest public lands. These special places are home to animals iconic of wilderness, and species found nowhere else. By following the regulations of our National Parks and National Forests, you can help keep wildlife wild and the backcountry safe on the PNT.
Getting to and from the Pacific Northwest Trail is part of the adventure – America’s wildest National Scenic trail is located in some of the most remote mountain ranges of the Northwest and logistics are part of the challenge.
A visit to the undiscovered communities of the Northwest is a fun part of any trip on the PNT. From rugged mountain towns, to historic seaside cities, the diverse communities visited by the trail provide a peek into the lifestyles unique to the Northwest.
Today, the PNT offers an experience that may be more challenging and rugged than it will be a generation from now. Until then, making the effort to be fully prepared for an adventure on the PNT is key to having a safe and enjoyable trip.