North Cascades BackpackingHike through the rugged glacial beauty of North Cascades

3 Days
3 Days
12.7 miles

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About the trip

Rugged Peaks and Massive Glaciers

Among the most unique landscapes in the country, North Cascades National Park is punctuated with hundreds of glaciers, volcanic summits, and lush forests. This diverse and complex landscape is both breathtaking to see and rich with opportunity to learn about the earth’s abundance.

In a weekend of intense sensory stimulation, you will hike through complex forests systems, learn about medicinal and edible plants, and climb to alpine meadows filled with the song of whistling marmots. You will push your limits with a climb through a glacial moraine and return home with the memorial possession of one of the Pacific Northwest’s prized jewels.

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Level 6/10
3 Days

Here’s what you need


Essential Gear
  • Backpack, sized 55-70 L
  • Backpacking Tent (available to rent for an additional fee)
  • Sleeping Bag, rated 20 degrees or lower (available to rent for an additional fee)
  • Sleeping Pad (available to rent for an additional fee)
  • Water bottles or Camelbak, 3L total minimum capacity
  • Headlamp
  • Mug, bowl, and utensil
  • Small towel or facecloth
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
Recommended Gear
  • Trekking Poles
  • Camera
  • Book
  • Journal
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Gaiters


Essential Clothing
  • Hiking boots, waterproof with sturdy soles
  • Wool hiking socks, multiple pairs
  • Long sleeve base layers (synthetic and moisture wicking)
  • Long pant base layer (synthetic and moisture wicking)
  • Light synthetic shirt or tank for warmer days
  • Hiking pants or shorts (at least one pair should be long pants)
  • Insulating mid layers (fleece jacket or vest, down jacket)
  • Waterproof, windproof shell
  • Light gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Balaclava or buff
  • Casual clothes for camp

Trip Package

  • Round Trip Transportation from Seattle
  • Licensed and medically trained guide team
  • Meals as outlined in itinerary
  • Group equipment
  • Park permits and fees
Not included
  • Personal gear and equipment
  • Meals not outlined in itinerary
  • Gratuity for guides


This trip departs from Seattle. If you are not arriving into Seattle in advance or staying past the duration of the trip, your flight should arrive no later 9 AM on day one of the itinerary (Friday) and depart no earlier than 4 PM on Sunday. Those departing from Seattle should plan to meet at Arc'teryx on Northwest 23rd at 10 AM on Friday. You'll return by 5 PM on Sunday.


Night one will be spent at a backcountry campsite in your tent and night two will be spent at a frontcountry campground with minimal amenities.


This trip does not require technical climbing skills or experience. It does, however, require a moderate to high level of physical fitness. We strongly encourage our hikers to experience hiking on rugged trails, particularly up and down steep hills, while carrying weight. The difference in difficulty while carrying the weight of a fully loaded backpack can sometimes come as a surprise to hikers, so you are encouraged to try challenging day hikes with a weighted backpack. Those who are in good shape are more likely to enjoy the experience and the views along the trail.

Give yourself adequate time to prepare, particularly if this form and intensity of exercise is new. For three days a week, focus on an hour or more of aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, swimming, etc. Gym equipment such as stairmasters and rowing machines can supplement cardiovascular training. Day hikes or other longer endeavors will help you prepare for the endurance required for a backpacking trip. Carrying a 20 to 30 pound pack uphill on trails or stadium steps will simulate the real climb better than anything. Lifting moderate weights to increase core body, leg, and arm strength is also essential for injury prevention.

Upon registration, a member of the DO team will consult on your experience and fitness and will recommend a regimen for training.


Expect daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s - sometimes lower at higher elevations. Wind chill can make temperatures feel as low as the high 30s. Nighttime temperatures do not typically drop lower than about 40 degrees but you should be prepared for temperatures as low as freezing. Overcast skies, rain, and wind are not uncommon so waterproof gear, a pack cover, rain pants, and a waterproof shell are essential.

Why this trip?

Recommended for...

This trip is recommended for individuals with hiking experience looking to develop new skills and see a unique landscape. No backpacking experience is required but those with a strong level of fitness or who are able to train in advance will enjoy the weekend most.