Cascade Pass - Sahale Glacier
- Guides Choice backpacking trip
- Amazing high country hiking
- Incredible campsites
- Alpine passes, waterfalls & wildflowers
- Abundant wildlife habitat
- Views of amazing glaciers
- Wonderful mountain solitude
- World-class hiking and scenery
This trip is dominated by the best qualities of the North Cascades: rugged, steep, and beautiful. On this four day trek, our route takes us up to a series of stunning sub-alpine basins with dramatic views of the jagged peaks of the North Cascades. We enjoy stunning meadows, abundant wild huckleberries, and rich wildlife habitat.
Our hike begins with a steep climb up to Cascade Pass, and then back down the other side to Basin Creek. A rest day at Basin Creek will afford us plenty of time for relaxing, dipping in cold mountain waters, and exploring nearby Horseshoe Basin and the historic Black Warrior Mine. On day 3 we’ll climb back up to Cascade Pass, and then farther up towards the Sahale Glacier and a dramatic, exposed campsite at 7,600 feet with peaks stretched out as far as the eye can see. Finally, we’ll drop back into Cascade Pass and descend the familiar switchbacks to our vehicle. We’ll soak up some of the most dramatic views the North Cascades have to offer on this four-day exploration that truly is a world-class mountain trek.
Trip Dates & Booking
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- Shuttle to the trailhead: 3 hours
- Hiking Mileage: 7.4 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
- Elevation Loss: 2,300 feet
This multi-day North Cascades National Park hiking trip begins with a pick up at your hotel in Seattle, and then a scenic drive into the North Cascades. When we arrive at the trailhead, we’ll get our packs and gear sorted out and start climbing. We’ve got a lot of elevation to gain, but we’ll take it switchback by switchback, slowly climbing out of the trees and getting spectacular views of jagged peaks and glaciers. We’ll take a well-deserved break at Cascade Pass, soaking in the view and the flowers, and then descend into Pelton Basin and the headwaters of the Stehekin River. We’ll make our camp at Basin Creek, soak our feet in the river, and eat a hearty dinner before turning in for the night.
- Hiking Mileage: 4-6 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
- Elevation Loss: 1,000 feet
Day 2 is our rest day, so we’ll share a leisurely breakfast before grabbing our daypacks and heading back up the trail for half a mile before turning north towards Horseshoe Basin. Another 1.5 miles will take us to the steep headwalls of Horseshoe Basin, festooned with flowers, waterfalls and steep granite walls. We’ll have a chance to explore the entrance to the historic Black Warrior Mine, search for wildlife, and take in the views, before turning back towards our camp for a restful evening.
- Hiking Mileage: 6.4 miles
- Elevation Gain: 4,400 feet
Day 3 is up, up and more up! We’ll pack up camp early and head back towards Cascade Pass, bidding farewell to the Stehekin River and keeping an eye out for bears and marmots as we go. Once we hit Cascade Pass, we’ll turn north and continue climbing to the base of the Sahale Glacier. This section has the most stunning views of the hike: dramatic vistas and overlooks of the Sahale Glacier and Doubtful Lake, ending in one of the most famous campsite in the North Cascades. Our campsite tonight is exposed and windy, surrounded by peaks, glaciers, and open sky. Determined campers have built substantial rock walls to block the wind, and it truly feels like another world up here. Our night might be a bit windy and chilly, but it’s well worth the payoff. Black bears are commonly sighted on the Sahale Glacier, as well as marmot, ptarmigans, and more, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled for wildlife. And if the night is clear, we’ll have some of the best stargazing in Washington.
- Hiking Mileage: 6.4 miles
- Elevation Loss: 4,300 feet
- Shuttle to Seattle: 3 hours
On our final day we’ll soak up the sunrise over the Sahale Glacier, and pack up our camp after a final breakfast together. We’ll retrace our steps back towards Cascade Pass one last time, and then keep descending down the switchbacks to our vehicle. We’ll have plenty of dramatic views to keep us entertained on our way down, and then we’ll say farewell to the subalpine as we drop back into the forest and return to our car. After the hike we’ll hop in the car and head back to Seattle, your hotel, and a real shower and real bed.
Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.
- Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
- Use of trekking poles
- All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
- A professional, knowledgeable, certified North Cascades National Park hiking guide
- Comprehensive, roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Seattle and back
- All entrance fees, permits and passes
- Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
- You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
- Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
- Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
- Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.
We provide all group gear which includes the following:
- Deuter or Osprey backpacks
- Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
- Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
- Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
- Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
- Cooking stoves and cookware
- Company-issued first-aid kit
- Satellite phone
We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.
Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).
Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!
This trip originates in Seattle, Washington, where you'll meet your guide and group for an orientation meeting the evening before your trip begins at 5:00 PM. Your guide will be in contact approximately 10 days before the trip start date to answer any questions you have and coordinate the orientation meeting.
Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.
Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).
Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.
Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.
Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.
The standard group size on North Cascades backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.
Age restrictions are as follows:
- 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
- 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis
The best hiking weather in the North Cascades is from mid June to late September, when the vast majority of trails (except ones up very high) are snow free. The west side of the Park catches the brunt of storm systems coming in from the Pacific Ocean, making the west side much wetter and more lush. The lower east side tends to be much warmer and drier throughout the summer. The west side receives on average 70+ inches more of precipitation and 400+ more inches of snowfall than the west side. Even with these discrpencies however, summer is a stunning time of year to be in the Cascades, on either side. See below for average temperatures and precipitation in North Cascades National Park:
|Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)|
Camping on Backpacking Trips
Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.
Fresh & Delicious
Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.
In the Action
Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.