Pacific Crest Trail: Harts Pass to Rainy Pass

With expansive ridge top views the entire way, this moderate backpack of 33 miles and 3,600 feet of elevation gain along Section L of the Pacific Crest Trail is one of the most scenic on the entire trail. It's best hiked one-way from Harts Pass to Rainy Pass in 3-4days. Destinations along the way include Cutthroat Pass, Granite Pass, Snowy Lakes, Golden Horn, Methow Pass, Glacier Pass and Grasshopper Pass.

on the trail

The first section is entirely above treeline with wide open meadows, ridges and expansive views of giant peaks of the North Cascades crest.  From Harts Pass the Pacific Crest Trail swings gently over two saddles and around 7,360 ft Tatie Peak. Descend a series of switchbacks to a larch-ringed meadow with dependable water and camping at 6.3 mi.  From here the trail climbs gradually to broad Grasshopper Pass at 7.3 mi and 6,800 ft (there's snowmelt for water here only in early summer).   

From Grasshopper Pass, descend steeply to Glacier Pass (9.9 and 5,600 ft), and hike along Brush Creek to a junction with Trail No. 480 at 12.7 mi.  Continue right up the West Fork of the Methow River to camps along the river at 16.4 mi or at Willis Camp at 18.4 mi.  Climb steeply again. The trail reaches Methow Pass at 20.6 mi and 6,600 ft. From here, traverse a steep slope with views to the south. About a mile beyond Methow Pass are camps and a boot path up to Snowy Lakes - a visit to these lakes under the Golden Horn is mandatory! 

Continue to traverse descending slightly to 6,200 ft Granite Pass at 23.7 mi.  Just beyond Granite Pass, a steep snowfield often hangs on until late August - don't attempt this without an ice axe!  In another 2.5 mi, reach Cutthroat Pass at 26.1 mi and 6,800 ft with spectacular views to the east up Early Winters Creek and State Route 20.  Hike steep switchbacks down from the pass.  Camps with fairly reliable water can be found at about 28.1 mi at the head of Porcupine Creek.  Another 5.1 mi and you're at 4,800-foot Rainy Pass.

PCT Miles

  • Rainy Pass to Cutthroat Pass:  5.1 miles
  • Cutthroat Pass to Granite Pass:  2.4 miles
  • Granite Pass to base of Snowy Pass access trail:  2.2 miles
  • Snowy Pass access trail to Methow Pass:  .9 miles
  • Methow Pass to Willis Camp:  4.2 miles
  • Willis Camp to Glacier Pass:  6.4 miles
  • Glacier Pass to Grasshopper pass:  2.6 miles
  • Grasshopper Pass to camps below Tatie Peak:  1.0 miles
  • Camps below Tatie Peak to Harts Pass:  6.3 miles


  • This trail is best done starting from Harts Pass where much more of the elevation change is downhill.
  • It's a very long drive from Rainy Pass up a poor and precipitous road to Harts Pass, which makes for a long car shuttle.  Consider paid transport one way from Rainy to Harts, leaving your vehicles at Rainy for an easy exit at the end of the hike.
  • About a mile beyond Methow Pass are camps and a boot path up to Snowy Lakes. A visit to these lakes under the Golden Horn is mandatory! If this is your primary goal, consider the shorter trip, Rainy Pass to Snowy Lakes.
  • Just beyond Granite Pass, a steep snowfield often hangs on until late August--don't attempt crossing this snowfield without an ice axe!
  • Harts Pass to Grasshopper Pass is a good day hike or backpacking trip fir those looking for shorter trips in the Harts Pass area. 
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous
  • Length: 33.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,600 ft
  • 7,625 ft
  • Green Trails Washington Pass No. 50
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
  • Red Marker
    48.721533, -120.670137
    48.7215325326 -120.670137323
  • Red Marker
    48.518017, -120.732979
    48.518017106 -120.732979102

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