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Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I - White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

South Cascades

Location

South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley
View map below

Length

99.0 miles, one-way

Elevation

Gain: 17771 ft.
Highest Point: 6530 ft.

Rating

3.14 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2013
 
 
 

Starting in well-protected sub-alpine wilderness and descending into heavily-logged, privately-owned land, this stretch of the PCT offers a dramatic illustration of the effects of public land protection and private industry on Washington's landscape. 

From the trailhead off of quiet Highway 12, hike through the lush hills and meadows of the William O. Douglas Wilderness. This section's climbs and dips remain relatively moderate throughout. As it follows the crest from White Pass, the trail passes through sub-alpine meadows and past numerous lakes and streams. Mount Rainier looms large here. At times the trail passes within twelve miles of the peak, and remains a near-constant part of the scenery for much of the hike.

About halfway through the hike, the trail descends below the sub-alpine zone, entering a varied landscape of forests, meadows and the occasional ridge-top. Forty miles or so from Snoqualmie Pass, the trail enters land shared by private companies and the Forest Service. From this point on, almost half the trail leads through clear-cuts and exposed hillsides. Be prepared to face the elements in the logged areas and to enjoy the pockets of protected lands, which include a mile-long swatch of old growth forests, and beautiful mountain lakes and meadows.

From Chinook Pass, the trail has an easy, rapid run to Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass. This stretch presents many private land clearcuts that offer little cover from the often present rain, and as you get closer to the pass, you are likely to encounter more and more day hikers, and overnight campers. 

WTA Pro Tip: The pass has public restrooms, a small coffeeshop where you can restock on sugary, carby treats, and the Summit Pancake House, a good stop for a warm meal. Also look for Dru Bru and Commonwealth, breweries where you can enjoy a pint before continuing on to the next section. 

 

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I - White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.6449, -121.3823 Open map in new window

Trailhead

South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley

Pacific Crest Trail Section I - White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass (#2000)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest administered by Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Mount Rainier National Park

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Pacific Crest Trail Oregon & Washington (Jeffrey Schaffer and Andy Selters) - Wilderness Press

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

Cascade Series - Northern Washington

www.pctmap.net/iphone/wa_section_i_map.pdf

https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/maps/

Getting There

The PCT North trailhead is found approximately a half-mile east of the White Pass Ski area on Highway 12. The trailhead is not well marked on the highway--look for a brown sign with a horse icon on it, between Leech Lake and a nearby horse camp.

 

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Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section I - White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

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