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Glacier Basin

North Cascades > Mountain Loop Highway
47.9870, -121.3930 Map & Directions
12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
2,159 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Established campsites
  • Waterfalls
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Rivers

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
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Strenuous hike out of Monte Cristo with trail conditions ranging from smooth incline to rough rock scrambles. Absolutely beautiful hike along the way and even better once you reach your destination. Continue reading

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Hiking Glacier Basin

This is a strenuous hike out of Monte Cristo with trail conditions that can range from smooth inclines to rough rock scrambles. However, the trail is an absolutely beautiful hike along the way and the destination is even better than the journey.

Once you leave Monte Cristo, the first three-quarters of a mile is fairly smooth ground mostly in the shade of the forest. The final quarter of the first mile opens up and begins to get rough until you reach the first set of waterfalls to the left of the trail.

This is a great place to stop for lunch and do some exploring. The waterfalls are beautiful and with some moderate rock climbing you can get to some amazing viewpoints. However, in the interest of safety, those without rock climbing experience should take in the views from the trail. Below the rock that you rest on there is a cave in which the water travels through that is pretty cool.

From here the trail gets difficult. Climb a rope that's actually a section of the trail, which becomes difficult rock scrambles for about one-half mile. About one-quarter of a mile from the ropes lies a glacier off to the left of the trail with an ice cave. Admire from afar, as there is no established trail to the glacier, and while the ice cave may be tempting on hot days, never enter it -- ice caves are quite dangerous. Turn your attention to the right of the cave and take a look at a beautiful waterfall just to the right of the cave.

As you continue on the main trail, the steep, rough rock scrambles turn into a smooth, steep incline until you arrive at the basin where the way levels out slightly. There are some old gold and silver-lead mines that have been blasted shut and some campsites scattered around the basin. There is a lot of exploring to do in the basin and it is a beautiful area.

Hike Description Written by
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Glacier Basin

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.9870, -121.3930 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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

Follow the Mountain Loop Highway 31 miles out to the Barlow Pass Trailhead where you park. Then hike or bike the gravel road behind the closed gate up to Monte Cristo where you follow the signs past Dumas St. up to Glacier Basin. Cross the river, since the bridge that once spanned it is washed out, then cross two additional bridges. Glacier Basin is two miles past Monte Cristo.

More Hike Details


North Cascades > Mountain Loop Highway

Glacier Basin (#719)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

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Glacier Basin

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