The Easy Pass Trail in North Cascades National Park, Washington, is a hard, 8-mile trail that gains around 3,000 feet of elevation. It's known for its incredible views of the park.
Easy Pass is one of those trails that you'll never forget. It takes you into the heart of North Cascades National Park and all the mind-boggling views you could ever want of steep granite walls, snowcapped spires, and crevassed glaciers.
Although it's still a difficult trail, it's one of the easier ways to get into the park and see some of what it offers. The trail takes most people around 5-6 hours to finish.
This hike is incredibly popular. Due in part to the views, it provides from Easy Pass proper and the larches that break out in brilliant shades of yellow all along the valley portion of the hike. Expect to be accompanied by more than a few fellow hikers throughout the fall.
Getting to Easy Pass
To get to Easy Pass, you'll need to travel Highway 20. If you're coming from the east, the trailhead is about 1 hour from Marblemount, 40 minutes from Newhalem, and if you're coming from the west, it's about 30 minutes from Mazama and 1.5 hours from Pateros.
Use the map below to get directions to Easy Pass Trailhead:
Easy Pass Trailhead
Easy Pass in North Cascades National Park is accessible via a trailhead on Highway 20. It's marked by a large sign on the side of the road and is one of the better-maintained trailheads along Highway 20. The trailhead can fit about 10 cars and has a restroom.
A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park in this lot.
Hiking Easy Pass in the North Cascades
The trail starts at the Easy Pass Trailhead on Highway 20. The first few miles are quite easy and don't indicate the difficulty that the final sections of the trail are going to present!
These first miles are also very well shaded and will be a relief on the way down after spending some time in the sun higher up.
The trail eventually opens up into a rocky meadow about 1.5 miles in. Here, you may also be able to find some water at a creek with several logs creating a crossing, head to the other side. This is Easy Pass Creek and, at times, can be quite high. Be aware of this, especially if you're attempting the hike in the early season. We highly recommend having and using hiking poles for this part of the hike.
From the other side of the creek, you will be leaving the woods behind you. The wide open valley floor is stunning, with classic alpine flora on all sides.
There is little shade in this portion of the hike, so make sure that you get water before walking into the baking sun!
There are two passes ahead of you. The one directly ahead is Easy Pass which, from this distance, looks fairly easy. But, as you get closer, it becomes more evident that it is a steep climb up the Pass. Don't worry, though, and you'll be more than rewarded for your effort with the gorgeous views.
After passing through the valley, you'll enter the forest again before ascending a few switchbacks that take you into exposed terrain once more. There may be a creek here to refill your water if needed.
The final section of the trail includes a rocky section, some parts have steps, and others are less well-maintained. WTA has worked quite hard to keep this trail in stellar condition and do a great job, especially considering how many people hike it every year.
Make your way up to the Pass from here, where you should be able to find some water.
Trails Near Easy Pass
If you loved the Easy Pass Trail or if you're looking for something else nearby, check out these other interesting hikes along Highway 20.
Trappers Peak Hike
Just the right amount of work for a breathtaking payoff
This incredible hike includes summiting a North Cascades Peak and seeing a section of the National Park that is usually impossible to see unless you've spent hours laboring in the woods--the Southern Pickets.
Thornton Lakes Hike
Lakes in an extraordinary setting
If you've hiked all the way to Trappers Peak, you might as well take another hour or so and take a detour down to Thornton Lakes. There are several lakes just below Trappers Peak that are well worth the visit. They also make a worthy destination all their own if you don't want to do the last section of vertical to the peak.
Colonial Creek Falls
The tallest waterfall in the continental U.S.
What makes a great addition to climbing mountains and hiking trails in the North Cascades? A side trip to see the tallest waterfall in the continental U.S.-- Colonial Creek Falls.
Wing and Lewis Lakes Hiking Trail
Two amazing alpine lakes and fantastic views only a few miles from the highway
The popular trail to Wing and Lewis Lakes begins only a few minutes from the Easy Pass Trailhead. From Rainy Pass, you'll hike into the woods and up past Lake Ann, down from Heather Pass, and into a basin where you'll explore two stunning alpine lakes.