McAlester & Park Creek Passes

Hike over spectacular high passes and deep basins in the North Cascades, with breathtaking views of peaks and glaciers. This is a very strenuous 55 mile 6-day trip of 55 miles and more than 13,500 feet of total of ascent and 16,800 feet of total descent.

getting there

Drive SR-20 to Colonial Creek Campground (1,220 ft). Continue 29 miles east on SR-20 to the Bridge Creek Trailhead (4,890 ft) just east of Rainy Pass.

on the trail

itinerary for six-day trip

55 miles one-way (excluding side trips) with 13,500 feet o ascent and 16,800 feet of descent

Day 1: Drive to trailheads and set up car shuttle. Hike to McAlester Lake camp (~7 miles, 2,200 feet of ascent, 1,200 feet of descent).

Day 2:  Hike over McAlester Pass through Rainbow Canyon to Rainbow Creek, ascend and camp at Rainbow Lake (~9 miles, 2,700 feet of ascent, 2,600 feet of descent).

Day 3:  After climbing over an unnamed pass descend to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and follow it to North Fork Camp (~10 miles, 1,300 feet of ascent, 4,400 feet of descent). Consider a side trip up the North Fork Bridge Creek.

Day 4:  Follow the PCT south, including a short gravel road section, begin the ascent to Park Creek Pass, and camp at Buckner Camp (~9 miles, 2,600 feet of ascent, 1,300 feet of descent).

Day 5:  Continue north though improving views and meadows over Park Creek Pass (described by Lorain as “a joyful climb through these lovely alpine gardens”) and descend to Junction Camp (~11 miles, 3,500 feet of ascent, 4,400 feet of descent).

Day 6:  Hike down Thunder Creek Trail through old growth forest to Colonial Creek Campground (~9 miles, 1,100 feet of ascent, 3,000 feet of descent). Retrieve cars and drive home.

  • Difficulty: Very Strenuous
  • Length: 55.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 13,500 ft
  • 6,200 ft
  • Green Trails Diablo Dam No. 48
  • Green Trails Mt Logan No. 49
  • Green Trails McGregor Mtn No. 81
  • Green Trails Stehekin No. 82
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
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