Three-day backpack along one of the most scenic sections of the Washington PCT. A classic high camp first night on the Devil’s Backbone. Hundreds of mushrooms along the route. Muddy trail on the valley floor of the West Pasayten River. When we arrived at Slate Peak at the end of the loop, the weather had turned.
Participants include Nicole Hansen (leader), Nancy Jordan.
- Green Trails Pasayten Peak No. 18
- Green Trails Washington Pass No. 50
- Hiking the North Cascades, by Erik Molvar, No. 56 Cascade Crest – Pacific Crest Trail
- Best Loop Hikes, Washington, by Dan A. Nelson and Alan Bauer, No. 78 Seven Pass Loop
- Day Hiking: North Cascades, by Craig Romano, Windy Pass
This route offers the best kind of alpine hiking – you start high and stay high, over most of the route. You leave from the highest drivable road in the state and follow the long, high path of the Pacific Crest Trail for half of the loop. You can expect to find a plethora of wildflowers, wildlife, and wild country here, without the effort of hiking from the lowlands to the high alpine world crossed by this trail. The reason is simple: the trailhead is at Harts Pass, and from there, you amble north on the PCT, which keeps you near the 6000-foot level. Along the way, you’ll cross rocky alpine meadow in the shadow of jagged granite spires. You’ll hike under the boughs of old larch forests and wander through broad fields of wildflowers.
From Winthrop drive the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) west for 13 miles to the Mazama turnoff just past milepost 180. From Marblemount follow SR 20 east for 73 miles. Proceed north for 0.5 mile to Mazama. Turn left (west) at the intersection, following the paved road to Harts Pass (Lost River Road). The pavement ends in 6.7 miles, and the road becomes Forest Road 54. Follow this harrowing, at times narrow road for 12 miles to Harts Pass. Pass the campground and guard station, bearing right toward Slate Peak. Drive 1.4 miles to the trailhead at the first switchback (elev. 6750 ft). Parking is limited. Trailhead GPS coordinates (48.7321,-120.6751) National Forest Service parking pass required.
24.69 miles, 4228 ft. gain, 2 days, 1 hr 42 min.