Cascade River Road Remains Open
In good news for hikers with their sights set on the Cascade Pass Trail, the Cascade River Road will remain open until late fall. Planned repairs on the road have been delayed until 2015.
The full length of Cascade River Road—which leads to the popular and stunning Cascade Pass-Sahale Arm Trail—will remain open until winter conditions make the road impassable in fall/winter 2014.
North Cascades National Park had planned to close the road in during September and October to perform permanent repairs at the Boston Creek crossing, but the work has been delayed until 2015. (Last August, a storm washed out the road at the crossing, which is vulnerable during heavy rains, stranding more than 65 visitors at the trailhead.)
Road open to hikers and backpackers until late fall/winter
The delayed repairs is good news for late season hikers heading to Cascade Pass or backpackers (with backcountry permits) heading into the heart of the park or wanting to catch sunrise from Sahale Arm camp.
Once snow conditions close the road, it will be gated at mile post 20 (Eldorado Creek), three miles before the road's end at the Cascade Pass trailhead.
As with any trail, it's a good idea to check the road and trail conditions before you head out. Check the road conditions in North Cascades National Park.
And remember, weather can change quickly in the high country this time of year. Be prepared for cold, wet and snowy conditions. It's already snowed on Sahale Arm this September.
What permits do you need to hike trails along the Cascade River Road?
Trailhead permits can be confusing, especially along trails bordering two different land management agencies. While it might be a good idea to have a Northwest Forest Pass tucked in your glovebox for spontaneous adventures, you don't actually need to display one in order to park and hike from the Hidden Lake Trailhead, Monogram Lake or at Cascade Pass.
If you plan to stay at a backcountry camp at Hidden Lake Lookout, Sahale Arm or within North Cascades National Park, you will need a free backcountry permit, issued on a first-come, first-serve basis by North Cascades National Park. (If you are headed for Cascade Pass, this means a convenient stop at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount).
If they are free, you may wonder why the park bothers to issue the backcountry permits. Backcountry permits protect your wilderness experience by preventing overcrowding at camps or climbing routes, and protecting natural resources so that all visitors, including future generations, can enjoy them. Permits also serve an important safety function in the event of an emergency or wildfire, and allow managers to gather data important for decision making.