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Fourth of July Pass via Thunder Creek

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
View map below

Length

11.2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2400 ft.
Highest Point: 3600 ft.

Rating

3.31 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
Highway 20 Closure: Highway 20 is closed west of Winthrop between milepost 165 and 185 while crews fight active wildfires in the area. This closure is dated 7.12.21
A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park. Permits must be picked up in person at one of the park's Wilderness Information Centers
 
 

There are two ways to attain Fourth of July Pass - from Thunder Creek or from Panther Creek. Both offer wonderful opportunities to travel along burbling, blue-green creeks, but access via Thunder Creek is truly stunning. Make it an out-and-back or stash a second car for a traverse.

The trail starts out easy as it gently wanders alongside turbulent Thunder Creek leaving Colonial Creek and heading upstream for two miles. One-third of a mile past the bridge, reach the trail to Fourth of July Pass on the left.

Take this trail, which marks the beginning of a steep ascent, climbing 2000 feet in just 2.5 miles to Fourth of July Camp at 3400 feet. You'll appreciate the cool forest cover as you climb, and when the forest gives way, it's to spectacular views of Colonial Peak, Snowfield Peak and Neve Glacier as you near the camp. If you're backpacking, this is the place to stay - some of the camp spots have fabulous views.

From the camp, it is less than a mile to the pass at 3600 feet. The pass is 5.3 miles from the trailhead. On the way, you'll pass a nice overlook of the Panther Potholes just short of the pass. The view at the top of the pass echoes what you have seen on the trail -- stunning views of jagged peaks and majestic glaciers.

The best way to see this entire trail is as a traverse from Colonial Creek Campground. If you can arrange a key swap or a shuttle two cars, the whole hike is 11.7 miles of North Cascades trekking through cool forest, high meadows, and beautiful views.

WTA Pro Tip: If you're camping, note that a backcountry permit is required and is available from North Cascades National Park. Stop in Marblemount to snag it. If you're using this trail to access Stehekin, know that reservations are required to camp in the valley. Make them beforehand at recreation.gov.

 

Fourth of July Pass via Thunder Creek

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.6925, -121.0978 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

Fourth of July Pass (#758)

North Cascades National Park

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Getting There

From Marblemount, follow the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) east for 24 miles. Just past milepost 130, turn right into the Colonial Creek Campground and proceed 0.5 mile to the trailhead, near the amphitheater at the day-use area. Water and restrooms available.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
Highway 20 Closure: Highway 20 is closed west of Winthrop between milepost 165 and 185 while crews fight active wildfires in the area. This closure is dated 7.12.21
A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park. Permits must be picked up in person at one of the park's Wilderness Information Centers
 

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Fourth of July Pass via Thunder Creek

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