Skyline Divide Trail – Washington North Cascades

If you the to do some hiking in Washington State’s North Cascade mountains, consider the Skyline Divide trail.  This classic ridge hike is accessed from a 4400 foot altitude trailhead that quickly gets  you up into flower-filled sub-alpine meadows.  Mount Baker’s north face dominates the view to the south, while Mount Shuksan fills the eastern skyline, the Twin Sisters and Puget Sound are off to the west, and dozens of US and Canadian peaks occupy the view to the north.

Enjoy a preview of the sights on Skyline Divide in this short video of a backpacking trip made last weekend with my friend Randy.  We hiked the full length of Skyline Ridge, and beyond up onto the western shoulder of Chowder Ridge.

Magenta paintbrush and other alpine meadow wildflowers blooming on Skyline Divide, North Cascade mountains, Washington State, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Magenta paintbrush and other alpine meadow wildflowers blooming on Skyline Divide, North Cascade mountains, Washington State

Important logistics for the Skyline Divide Trail:

  • All visitors must use the toilet at trailhead or pack out (not bury) human and dog waste.
  • A Recreation Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
  • The gravel road to the trailhead (FR-37) is usually 12.9 miles of potholes, but suitable to most cars when driven slowly.  Latest road conditions.
  • Beware that continuing beyond Skyline Divide and up onto Chowder ridge is best left to those skilled & prepared to scramble rock, snow and ice.
  • There is no water available on the ridge during summer or fall.  Backpackers must carry water from home or hike down to the headwaters of Deadhorse Creek.

Leave a Reply