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Fourth of July Pass via Thunder Creek

North Cascades > North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
48.6925, -121.0978 Map & Directions
Length
11.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
2400 feet
Highest Point
3600 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Hard
The view from Fourth of July camp. Photo by George and Sally.
  • Mountain views
  • Established campsites
  • Ridges/passes
  • Old growth
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Rivers

There are two ways to attain Fourth of July Pass - from Thunder Creek or from Panther Creek. Both offer wonderful opportunities to travel along burbling, blue-green creeks, but access via Thunder Creek is truly stunning. Make it an out-and-back or stash a second car for a traverse. Continue reading

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Hiking Fourth of July Pass via Thunder Creek

There are two ways to attain Fourth of July Pass - from Thunder Creek or from Panther Creek. Both offer wonderful opportunities to travel along burbling, blue-green creeks, but access via Thunder Creek is truly stunning. Make it an out-and-back or stash a second car for a traverse.

The trail starts out easy as it gently wanders alongside turbulent Thunder Creek leaving Colonial Creek and heading upstream for two miles. One-third of a mile past the bridge, reach the trail to Fourth of July Pass on the left.

Take this trail, which marks the beginning of a steep ascent, climbing 2000 feet in just 2.5 miles to Fourth of July Camp at 3400 feet. You'll appreciate the cool forest cover as you climb, and when the forest gives way, it's to spectacular views of Colonial Peak, Snowfield Peak and Neve Glacier as you near the camp. If you're backpacking, this is the place to stay - some of the camp spots have fabulous views.

From the camp, it is less than a mile to the pass at 3600 feet. The pass is 5.3 miles from the trailhead. On the way, you'll pass a nice overlook of the Panther Potholes just short of the pass. The view at the top of the pass echoes what you have seen on the trail -- stunning views of jagged peaks and majestic glaciers.

The best way to see this entire trail is as a traverse from Colonial Creek Campground. If you can arrange a key swap or a shuttle two cars, the whole hike is 11.7 miles of North Cascades trekking through cool forest, high meadows, and beautiful views.

WTA Pro Tip: If you're camping, note that a backcountry permit is required and is available from North Cascades National Park. Stop in Marblemount to snag it. If you're using this trail to access Stehekin, know that reservations are required to camp in the valley. Make them beforehand at recreation.gov.

Fourth of July Pass via Thunder Creek

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.6925, -121.0978 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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

See weather forecast

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

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. Water and restrooms available.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

North Cascades > North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

Fourth of July Pass (#758)

North Cascades National Park

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Fourth of July Pass via Thunder Creek

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