Washington Pass Overlook Trail In Washington

Here is everything you need to know about the Washington Pass Overlook Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Washington
  • Length: 0.2 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: https://parks.state.wa.us/547/Palouse-to-Cascades-State-Park-Trail

The Washington Pass Overlook Trail is a scenic hiking trail located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington state, United States. This trail holds significant historical importance as it was constructed during the Great Depression as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program. The CCC was a public work relief program initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide employment to young, unemployed men during the 1930s.

The construction of the Washington Pass Overlook Trail began in 1933 and was completed in 1934 by the CCC workers. These young men, known as the “CCC boys,” were tasked with building trails, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects across the country. The Washington Pass Overlook Trail was one such project that aimed to provide recreational opportunities for visitors while also preserving the natural beauty of the area.

The trail itself offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, including Liberty Bell Mountain and Early Winters Spires. It winds through alpine meadows, rocky slopes, and dense forests, showcasing the diverse ecosystems of the North Cascades region. The historical significance of the Washington Pass Overlook Trail lies not only in its construction during the Great Depression but also in its role in promoting conservation and outdoor recreation for generations to come.

While On The Trail

Access Points

The major access points or trailheads along the Washington Pass Overlook Trail are:

1. Washington Pass Overlook Trailhead: This is the main trailhead for the Washington Pass Overlook Trail. It is located off State Route 20, approximately 4 miles west of the Washington Pass summit.

2. Early Winters Campground Trailhead: This trailhead is located within the Early Winters Campground, which is about 1 mile west of the Washington Pass summit. From the campground, you can access the Washington Pass Overlook Trail.

3. Blue Lake Trailhead: The Blue Lake Trailhead is another access point for the Washington Pass Overlook Trail. It is located off State Route 20, approximately 2 miles east of the Washington Pass summit. From the Blue Lake Trailhead, you can hike a short distance to connect with the Washington Pass Overlook Trail.

These are the main access points along the Washington Pass Overlook Trail, providing different starting points for hikers to explore the trail and enjoy the scenic views of the North Cascades.

Transportation Available

1. North Cascades National Park Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to various trailheads and visitor centers in the North Cascades National Park.
2. North Cascades Highway – Scenic highway passing through the Washington Pass Overlook Trail, offering public transportation options.
3. Private Car Services – Various private car services available for hire in the area, providing personalized transportation.
4. Local Taxi Companies – Local taxi companies offering transportation services in the vicinity of the Washington Pass Overlook Trail.
5. Ride-Sharing Services – Popular ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft operate in the area, providing convenient transportation options.
6. Bicycle Rentals – Local shops offering bicycle rentals for exploring the Washington Pass Overlook Trail and surrounding areas.
7. Hiking Shuttle Services – Specialized shuttle services catering to hikers, providing transportation to and from trailheads in the region.


The amenities available at the Washington Pass Overlook Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available for visitors to use.

2. Parking: There is a parking area provided for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Picnic areas: There are designated picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack while taking in the scenic views.

4. Interpretive signs: The trail features interpretive signs that provide information about the area’s geology, flora, and fauna.

5. Benches: There are benches along the trail where visitors can rest and admire the views.

6. Overlook platform: The trail leads to an overlook platform that offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

7. Information kiosk: There is an information kiosk where visitors can find maps, brochures, and other helpful resources.

8. Hiking trails: The trail itself provides opportunities for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the area.

Please note that camping sites are not available at the Washington Pass Overlook Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Mazama Country Inn – Cozy lodging with mountain views near the Washington Pass Overlook Trail.
2. Freestone Inn – Rustic lodge offering comfortable accommodations and dining options close to the trail.
3. North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin – Remote lodge accessible by boat, providing lodging and dining services.
4. Mazama Store – Local grocery store offering a variety of food options for hikers.
5. Cascadian Farm Organic – Nearby farm offering organic produce and snacks for hikers.
6. Winthrop Mountain House – Charming bed and breakfast with mountain views, located within driving distance of the trail.
7. North Cascades National Park Visitor Center – Provides information and emergency services for hikers in the area.

Washington Pass Overlook Trail Difficulty Notes

The Washington Pass Overlook Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers. The trail is approximately 2.2 miles long and gains about 500 feet in elevation. It starts with a gradual ascent through a forested area, providing shade and a pleasant hiking experience. As the trail progresses, it becomes steeper and more challenging, with some rocky sections and switchbacks. However, the effort is rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the North Cascades National Park and the surrounding mountains. While the trail requires a moderate level of fitness and endurance, it is suitable for most hikers with basic hiking experience.

Features And Attractions

The Washington Pass Overlook Trail offers stunning views and access to various scenic spots, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable ones along the trail:

1. Washington Pass Overlook: The trail itself leads to the Washington Pass Overlook, which provides breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding North Cascades National Park and the rugged mountains.

2. Liberty Bell Mountain: This iconic peak is visible from the Washington Pass Overlook. Liberty Bell Mountain is known for its distinctive shape and is a popular destination for rock climbers.

3. Early Winters Spires: These granite spires are another prominent feature visible from the overlook. They offer a picturesque backdrop and are also popular among climbers.

4. Blue Lake: Located near the trailhead, Blue Lake is a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks. It’s a great spot for a picnic or a short hike.

5. Cutthroat Lake: A short drive from the trailhead, Cutthroat Lake is another stunning alpine lake known for its crystal-clear waters and scenic beauty. It offers opportunities for fishing and camping.

6. Rainy Pass: This mountain pass is located along the North Cascades Highway and offers access to various hiking trails and viewpoints. It’s a great starting point for exploring the area.

7. North Cascades National Park Visitor Center: Located near the trailhead, the visitor center provides information about the park’s geology, wildlife, and history. It’s a great place to learn more about the region before embarking on the trail.

8. Washington Pass Climbing Area: This area is a popular destination for rock climbers, offering a variety of routes for all skill levels. Even if you’re not a climber, it’s fascinating to watch climbers scale the cliffs.

9. Diablo Lake: While not directly along the trail, Diablo Lake is a short drive away and is worth a visit. Its turquoise waters and surrounding mountains create a stunning landscape.

10. Ross Lake: Another nearby attraction, Ross Lake is a large reservoir that stretches across the border between the United States and Canada. It offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and camping.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that can be explored along the Washington Pass Overlook Trail and its surrounding area.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No camping or overnight stays are allowed on the trail.
– No fires or open flames are permitted.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; please carry out all trash.
– Hunting or trapping is not allowed on the trail.
– Motorized vehicles, including bicycles, are not permitted on the trail.
– The trail is open year-round, but be prepared for seasonal weather changes and closures.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
– Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
– Do not remove or disturb any natural or cultural resources.
– Be mindful of other hikers and maintain a peaceful and respectful atmosphere.
– Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at the trailhead or along the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Washington Pass Overlook Trail is a popular hiking destination located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington state. This scenic trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and the iconic Liberty Bell Peak. While the trail is accessible year-round, the best times to visit are during the summer and early fall months.

During the summer, from June to August, the weather is generally pleasant with mild temperatures and clear skies. This is the perfect time to explore the Washington Pass Overlook Trail as the wildflowers are in full bloom, creating a vibrant and colorful landscape. The trail is also less crowded during weekdays, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the tranquility of the area. Additionally, the longer daylight hours provide ample time to hike and enjoy the stunning vistas.

In the fall, from September to October, the Washington Pass Overlook Trail offers a unique experience as the foliage begins to change colors. The vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow create a picturesque backdrop against the rugged mountains. The cooler temperatures make hiking more comfortable, and the trail is still accessible before the winter snowfall. It is important to note that as the season progresses, the weather can become more unpredictable, so it is advisable to check the forecast and be prepared for potential changes.

It is worth mentioning that the Washington Pass Overlook Trail may have seasonal closures due to snowfall. The trail is located at an elevation of over 5,000 feet, making it susceptible to heavy snowfall during the winter months. Typically, the trail is closed from November to May, or until the snow melts and conditions are safe for hiking. It is essential to check with the North Cascades National Park Service for the most up-to-date information on trail closures and conditions before planning a visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trailhead for easy access.
2. Paved Pathway: A smooth and level pathway leading to the overlook, suitable for wheelchair users.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Restroom facilities equipped with accessible features such as grab bars and wider doorways.
4. Benches and Seating: Several benches along the trail for resting and enjoying the view.
5. Interpretive Signage: Informational signs with braille and large print options, providing accessible educational content.
6. Handrails: Sturdy handrails along certain sections of the trail to assist with stability and balance.
7. Viewing Platforms: Elevated platforms with wheelchair accessible ramps, offering unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape.
8. Assistance Animals: Service animals are welcome on the trail to provide assistance to individuals with disabilities.
9. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic tables and areas designed to accommodate wheelchair users.
10. Accessible Information: Brochures, maps, and other materials available in accessible formats upon request.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to avoid getting lost or damaging the fragile ecosystem.
2. Carry plenty of water: Ensure you have an ample supply of water to stay hydrated during the hike.
3. Dress appropriately: Wear sturdy footwear and dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions.
4. Be cautious of steep drop-offs: Stay away from the edges and exercise caution near the cliffs to prevent accidents.
5. Watch out for wildlife: Keep a safe distance from animals and do not feed or approach them.
6. Check weather conditions: Before starting the hike, check the weather forecast to be prepared for any potential storms or adverse conditions.
7. Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know about your hiking plans, including your expected return time.
8. Carry a map and compass: Bring a map and compass or a GPS device to navigate the trail and avoid getting lost.
9. Pack essential supplies: Carry a first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, and snacks to ensure your safety and comfort.
10. Hike with a buddy: It’s always safer to hike with a companion, especially in remote areas.
11. Stay alert and aware: Pay attention to your surroundings, watch for trail markers, and be mindful of your own limitations.
12. Leave no trace: Respect the environment by packing out all trash and leaving the trail as you found it.

Conservation Notes

The Washington Pass Overlook Trail is a significant natural resource that is currently under conservation efforts to protect its unique ecological features and preserve its natural beauty. The trail is located within the North Cascades National Park in Washington state, which is known for its diverse and fragile ecosystems. As a result, the conservation status of the Washington Pass Overlook Trail is of utmost importance to ensure the long-term sustainability of the area.

The trail is classified as a protected area, and its conservation status is designated as “preserved.” This means that the trail is actively managed and monitored to minimize human impact and maintain the integrity of the surrounding environment. Conservation efforts focus on preserving the native flora and fauna, as well as protecting the delicate balance of the ecosystem. This includes implementing measures to prevent erosion, controlling invasive species, and promoting sustainable visitor practices.

To maintain the conservation status of the Washington Pass Overlook Trail, strict regulations are in place to limit human activities that may harm the natural environment. These regulations include restrictions on camping, hunting, and off-trail exploration. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to follow Leave No Trace principles, such as packing out all trash and minimizing disturbance to wildlife. By adhering to these guidelines, visitors can contribute to the ongoing conservation efforts and help preserve the trail for future generations to enjoy.

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