Bucket Reserve List: The Cascades

The Cascades and Pacific Northwest

Mount Baker looms above Bellingham, WA and the Strait of Georgia

Region: N. California, Washington State, Oregon and coastal British Columbia

Logistical Difficulty:  Moderate

Hiking Difficulty: Moderately HIGH

Degree of Risk: Moderately HIGH

Estimated time required (including travel and logistics): One week.

The Pacific Northwest ranks fourth on our list of hiking regions in North America. But this is far more of a reflection on the amazing variety of hiking available in North America than an indictment of the Northwest. The Cascade Range and the incredible pacific coastlines of this region easily equal any area in North America for scenic beauty. Unfortunately, the weather can be…somewhat on the dismal side.

Mt. Rainier National Park
The high Alpine meadows of Rainier have to be seen to be believed

Why Hike Here?

  • When the weather is favorable the Cascades compare to any mountain range in North America
  • Stunning broad alpine meadows
  • Many copious glaciers (though they are shrinking)
  • Iconic and recognizable peaks (Rainier, Hood, St. Helens, Baker, Shasta)
  • Miles of rugged, undeveloped coastline
  • Elevation not a major factor (Rainier excepted)
  • The Wonderland and West Coast Trails
  • HUGE trees, temperate rain forest
  • Great hiking resources: Seattle, Portland and Vancouver all home to large populations of hiking aficionados
  • Only active Volcanoes in the lower 48
  • Year round hiking at lower elevations
  • Short (July-mid September) “dry” season

But First Consider…

  • The weather is seldom favorable
  • In fact the weather is most often dismal
  • Clouds, drizzle, mist the norm here
  • Many views more theoretical than actual
  • Trails can be rough, especially the coastal hikes
  • Washouts, mudslides common
  • Dangerous stream crossings abound
  • Rainy season lasts from October to June
  • Year round hiking without special equipment NOT possible in the higher elevations
  • Volcanic events are rare but deadly; be aware and heed warnings

Hikes we have done here:

  • Mount St. Helens via Monitor Ridge Route (Brian Only)*

Hikes we want to do here:

  • The Enchantments, WA (hard to get permits for)
  • The Wonderland Trail, WA
  • Three Sisters Loop, OR
  • High Divide/Seven Lakes Basin, WA
  • Lost Coast Trail, CA
  • Chain Lakes Loop

*On the BucketList!


































Why Hike Here?

  • When the weather is favorable, the Cascades can equal or even surpass any mountain range in Norther America
  • Broad, stunning alpine meadows
  • Miles of rugged, undeveloped coastline
  • Many iconic, easily recognizable peaks (Rainier, St. Helens, Hood, Baker, Shasta)
  • The only active volcanoes in the lower 48
  • Still a lot of copious glaciers (but they are shrinking)
  • HUGE trees, temperate Rain Forests
  • Great hiking resources; Seattle, Portland and Vancouver have large populations of hiking aficionados
  • Long hiking season, excepting the higher peaks
  • Short (July-mid September) “dry” season

But First Consider…

  • The weather is seldom favorable
  • In fact, the weather is often horrible…Many rainy, drizzly, cloudy days
  • Views at times more theoretical than actual
  • Many of these hikes are rough, the coastal hikes especially
  • Trails often washed out
  • Hiking infrastructure is sparse further out from the big coastal cities
  • Dangerous stream crossings not uncommon
  • Popular trails crowded, hard to get permits for
  • Though the winter is mild near the coast, the rainy season lasts from late September until June…
  • …And winter is NOT mild on the big cascades peaks
  • Active volcanism is rare, but be aware of warnings