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Park Creek Pass via Thunder Creek

North Cascades

Location

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

Length

55.2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 9800 ft.
Highest Point: 6100 ft.

Rating

2.80 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
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
 
 

Note: The bridge over Thunder Creek located 14 miles up the Thunder Creek Trail near Skagit Queen Camp in North Cascades National Park has been replaced.

A 4-5 day backpack up the tumbling, boisterous, river-like Thunder Creek from the Colonial Creek Campground to just beyond its headwaters at Park Creek Pass. Backpackers can turn around at Park Creek Pass (45.6 miles) or do a traverse to Cascade Pass (41.8 miles).

Hikers on this trail will marvel at the towering old growth along Thunder Creek. This is truly deep, deep wilderness and hiking the length of Thunder Creek provides ample opportunity to appreciate its nuances and its challenges. On the plus side: the trees, the solitude, creekside camps, a chance to see wildlife. On the minus side: long miles, bugs, and few expansive views of the surrounding peaks. Read the Thunder Creek entry for more on this stretch, along with recent trip reports.

Once you top out at Park Creek Pass (22.8 miles and 6100 feet) everything changes. Mountains, meadows, and scrambling opportunities abound. This is a place to stay awhile. Camping isn't allowed in the pass, but there are good camps on either side. So few people ever make it this far in that you will almost certainly have this wonderland to yourself.

If you can arrange a car at either end, hiking to Cascade Pass (41.8 miles away) offers the most interesting way. You'll descend the Park Creek trail to the Stehekin Road (7.2 miles on and 2300 feet down). A 2.7 mile road walk lies past that, but with the road closed to vehicles due to a washout, you're unlikely to encounter cars.

At Cottonwood Camp, you'll join up with the Cascade Pass trail. Up, up you'll go to Cascade Pass (5400 feet) and finally the last 3.7 miles to your other car - 19 miles from Park Creek Pass.

 

Park Creek 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

Thunder Creek (#), Park Creek (#618)

North Cascades National Park

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Wow Guides North Cascades (Craig & Kathy Copeland)

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 (elev. 1250 ft). Water and restrooms available.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
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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Park Creek Pass via Thunder Creek

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