“Well worth the trek beyond Cascade Pass for amazing views in the heart of the North Cascades
— Megan O.
Fall Colors · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The road up to Cascade Pass parking lot can close during winter season and/or during seasonal road construction. Check in with Marblemount Ranger Station for details before your trip. If you plan to camp at the base of Sahale Glacier, there are only 6 or so sites. You need one of the first-come first-serve backcountry permits, 6 people max per permit, from the Marblemount Ranger Station. Also, if you camp please use the established pit toilet west of the rock sites.
Need to Know
If tackling this route in one day, leave by midday to make it back to the parking lot by dark. The trail and scramble up to Sahale Glacier can get windy and socked in by fog, be aware of the route. If you plan to camp overnight at Sahale Arm and/or climb the glacier, you'll need an overnight backcountry climber's permit from Marblemount Ranger Station. They're free, first-come, first-serve and up to 6 people per permit. If you don't already have one, they also provide a bear canister.
The trail features easy switchbacks and good climbing up to Cascade Pass (7.4mi roundtrip, 1740' elevation gain). Past the pass, the trail is more narrow single track and there will be a scree field to scramble up to Sahale Arm if you head north from the pass (additional 3.4mi roundtrip, away from trail to Stehekin, 4060' elevation gain).
One of the most beautiful places to camp in the North Cascades, the route is worth the extra effort and the challenging scramble. Take your glacier travel gear for a summit morning from the campsites at the base of Sahale Glacier.
Plenty of people take a day to travel up to Cascade Pass each summer on the western side of North Cascades NP. The parking area beyond Marblemount Ranger Station is also a trailhead for backpacking to Steheken on Lake Chelan to the south, or Sahale Arm to the north from the Pass. If you're looking to add extra singletrack, an epic scramble, incredible views in the heart of the North Cascades, or even a remote glacier climb, head up to Sahale Arm.
Easy to follow switchbacks all the way up to Cascade Pass. From the pass, you'll want to make a left (north) turn from the overlook to keep moving on towards Sahale Arm. There will be a well defined trail, and there are rock cairns places when the trail passes over rocky terrain. Along the way, visitors will cross a couple of snowfields, and follow some narrow trail sections with beautiful views for about 2 miles. From the base of the glacier, you'll have many options. Some turn back and head back toward the pass, though you can continue up to the glacier. Be prepared for proper glacier travel if you intend to continue!
The route is perfect for an overnight trip though the entire route from the trailhead would be a doable but very long day trip.
Flora & Fauna
Marmots all around! If you camp at the base of Sahale Glacier, keep your food closed up and well stashed. Late summer, and early fall are best for wild flowers.
History & Background
Along the mountaineer's trail between Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm, you'll find yourself above an old gold mining site at Doubtful Lake