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Trip Report

Cathedral Pass Loop, Chewuch River Trail

North Cascades

Trip Report By

Hiked Jul 3, 2021

Type of Hike


Trail Conditions

Trail in good condition


Road suitable for all vehicles


Bugs were terrible


Snow free

Some friends and I hiked the Cathedral Pass Loop as an overnight on the holiday weekend, we followed the route described by WTA (starting from Thirtymile, taking the Lesamiz connector) but opted to go counterclockwise.

The drive to the trailhead is paved up until the Andrews Creek Trailhead, and the few miles of gravel road after that are in fine condition — any car could make it! Plenty of space for parking, as I don't think this trailhead ever gets super busy. Bathroom was clean & well stocked.

We got an early start on Saturday which was great because it meant we hiked the first few miles of exposed burn zone while it was still relatively cool and the sun hadn't risen over the peaks yet. The grade along the river is so gradual that you can really zoom through the first 7 or 8 miles up until the Tungsten junction.

Past the junction is where most of the elevation gain on this trail comes into play. The trail becomes much steeper, but even then it was relatively short lived. The trail levels off quite a bit once you reach Tungsten Mine. The old mine buildings were fun to explore and were an incredible reprieve from the mosquitos and heat outside. We took a nice break on the benches inside the cabin, and threw a few shots of horseshoes on the game that had been set up with mine debris.

After leaving the mine, a big thunder/lightning storm rolled in the valley behind us, and we thankfully were hiking away from it toward Cathedral. It sounds like these types of afternoon storms are pretty common in this area.

The approach to Cathedral past Apex Pass is stunning, and it gets more beautiful the closer you get. I was truly in awe after we reached the saddle between Amphitheater and Cathedral, and were able to look down on the lakes and valley to the west. Very thankful that we chose to make this an overnight so we could camp at upper Cathedral and catch a sunrise/sunset here!

We camped at some impacted spots a ways away from the upper lake, hoping to get away from mosquitos (which was impossible) but we all brought wind gear and bug nets so we could at least bear them.

The next morning we packed up and finished up the remainder of the loop. The meadows with views of Remmel mountain are so so great, and once again, it was nice to hit these early in the morning before the heat and afternoon sunshine.

After we connected back up with the Chewuch Trail, we ran into the WTA pro-crew, who had been out here for a few days already logging out the loop. Their work was MUCH appreciated, as we hadn't crossed a single blowdown up until that point. The next few miles after we surpassed them was pretty rough with lots of log hopping, but as of writing this, it should be all cleared up thanks to them!

Coming back down the Chewuch was more or less uneventful. It was unbearably hot out at this point in the day so we were really racing back to the trailhead. We made it back to Thirtymile around 3:30 and all promptly dunked ourselves in the river.


Anna Roth on Cathedral Pass Loop, Chewuch River Trail

Dang, the light in these pictures is so good. And those signs are incredible.

Posted by:

Anna Roth on Jul 06, 2021 12:11 PM

Posted by:

Rachel Wendling on Jul 06, 2021 04:38 PM

Sathish-Jothikumar on Cathedral Pass Loop, Chewuch River Trail

Love the photos.
Am thinking of doing it over three days this weekend - your mileage is impressive (38mi in 2 days?). Was there any snow on the trail?

Did you consider doing it from Chewuch trail to reduce the distance?

Posted by:

Sathish-Jothikumar on Jul 06, 2021 04:11 PM

Rachel Wendling on Cathedral Pass Loop, Chewuch River Trail

Thanks! It worked out to ~19.5 miles each day (Cathedral Pass is almost a perfect midpoint). No snow anywhere on the trail — even all the surrounding peaks looked melted out. The Cathedral Driveway Trailhead would have shaved off a few miles, but it was an extra 1.5 hours of driving to reach that trailhead vs. Thirtymile (for us, coming from Seattle) so we opted for the route with less driving and more trail time.

Posted by:

Rachel Wendling on Jul 06, 2021 04:37 PM

Sathish-Jothikumar on Cathedral Pass Loop, Chewuch River Trail

Thanks for this detailed info. I hope to make it out there this weekend

Posted by:

Sathish-Jothikumar on Jul 06, 2021 05:04 PM