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Golden Horn - Snowy Lakes

North Cascades

Experience the Pacific Crest Trail at its finest. This backpacking trip takes you across four passes to two lovely alpine lakes in the shadow of Golden Horn, Tower Mountain and Mount Hardy. Continue reading

Location

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Jump to Map & Directions

Length

23.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2700 ft.
Highest Point: 6900 ft.

Rating

3.75 out of 5

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  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Ridges/passes
  • Established campsites
  • Mountain views
  • Lakes
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

Experience the Pacific Crest Trail at its finest. This backpacking trip takes you across four passes to two lovely alpine lakes in the shadow of Golden Horn, Tower Mountain and Mount Hardy.

Start on the north side of the highway at Rainy Pass. The PCT here is wide and ascends at a moderate grade through forest. If you start in the afternoon, a nice campsite can be found below Cutthroat Pass at about four miles. From the camp, switchbacks take you to Cutthroat Pass at 6800 feet. The pass is five miles from the trailhead and makes a nice turn-around point for a day hike. The forest is behind you here and big views and granite peaks surround you.

Carrying on a further 1.25 miles takes you to Granite Pass - where snowfields may cross the trail until August. If there is snow here, you'll need an ice axe, or you'll need to turn around. Past Granite Pass the trail is literally dynamited into the cliffs for some ways, and snowy conditions on trail can be very dangerous.

Just before Methow Pass, take an unmarked trail to your right a steep half mile to Lower Snowy Lake and beyond to Upper Snowy Lake. Trees are sparse here and the alpine meadows are quite fragile. As tempting as it may be to set up your tent next to one of these lakes, it is best to camp at the established campsites along the PCT to minimize damage to this sensitive and incredibly beautiful area.

From camp, enjoy views of the stunning Golden Horn looming over Snowy Lakes. Continue hiking north to Methow Pass on the PCT, or simply explore around the lakes in the evening and early morning before heading out to furter adventures.

WTA Pro-Tip: Much of this trail is above treeline. Shade from sun and cover from rain is minimal, so plan your trip into this area accordingly. August and September are the best months for this trip.

Hike by WTA Community
Multiple authors contributed to this report

Golden Horn - Snowy Lakes

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.5156, -120.7362 Open in Google Maps

Trailhead

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

Pacific Crest Trail (#2000)

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Methow Valley Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

100 Classic Hikes in Washington (Spring & Manning - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails No. 50 Washington Pass

Getting There

From Marblemount follow the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) east for 51 miles to Rainy Pass near milepost 158. Turn left to access the north trailhead. Elevation is 4800 feet.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Golden Horn - Snowy Lakes

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