Challenging

Easy Pass

Distance 7.6 mi
Time 4 hrs
Elevation Gain 2800 ft
Season Summer, Fall
Hike Info Hiker Info
Weather

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This trail follows Easy Pass Creek to 6,500’ Easy Pass — a gateway to North Cascades National Park. Don’t let the name fool you, though. This is a tough trail with steep switchbacks, loose rock, and lots of exposure to the elements. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen if hiking during summer. In the fall, you’ll want to layer up and prepare for winter conditions.  


Because of its not-so-easy reputation, Easy Pass is less popular than nearby trails like Maple Pass Loop and Blue Lake. Hike here if you’re looking for a challenge, an escape from the crowds, and some truly incredible mountain scenery.

Hiking Easy Pass Trail

Easy Pass Trail begins in the forest, quickly crossing Granite Creek via footbridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first 1.6 miles, you’ll climb beneath the forest canopy before views begin to open up among talus slopes and meadows. New Morning Peak looms up ahead as you emerge from the woods. 

Fireweed and wildflowers line the meadows during summertime. In fall, the foliage is more subdued — until you reach the pass where subalpine larches await. The trail is rugged and rocky throughout, making sturdy footwear essential (and trekking poles highly recommended).

Views improve to the east as you climb, so be sure to turn around once in a while to greet Mount Hardy and the Golden Horn behind you. 

After 2.5 miles, reach a series of serious switchbacks which climb 1,000 feet over the next mile. You’ll reach the National Park Service (NPS) boundary at 3.7 miles, officially entering North Cascades National Park. Note that dogs are not permitted within the park. 

From the NPS sign, continue another 0.1 miles or so to Easy Pass. While there’s no clear turnaround point, the trail eventually begins to drop into the Fisher Creek Basin. A popular backpacking route, the Fisher Creek Trail continues deep into the heart of the park.

Hang out at the pass for excellent views south and westward into North Cascades National Park. Fisher Peak, Black Peak, and glaciated Mount Logan are just a few of the prominent North Cascades mountains visible from this vantage point. 

If visiting in the fall (late September – early October), you may be treated to the sight of golden larches at Easy Pass. This time of year often comes with early winter snow in the mountains, so be prepared for winter conditions before setting out. Return the way you came. 

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Accommodations near Easy Pass

Trail Conditions

Trail is rocky and steep with loose gravel in sections. Watch your footing, and consider a different trail if hiking with kids or pets (dogs are prohibited in North Cascades National Park).

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Camping Info

Backcountry camping is available beyond Easy Pass at Fisher Camp in North Cascades National Park (permit required). The nearest developed campground is Lone Fir Campground, located 17 miles east of Easy Pass trailhead.

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How to Get There

From I5 exit 230 (Burlington), drive Highway 20 east for 91 miles. Turn right after milepost 151 into the signed Easy Pass trailhead. Northwest Forest Pass required for parking.

Driving Directions

Use the ModernHiker mobile app to download this map and complete trail description for offline access.

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