Pacific Crest Trail: White Pass to Chinook Pass

Enjoy a nice ridge hike past many lakes along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) north of White Pass. Hiking north on the PCT and returning via trails to the east makes this a "Figure 8" or "pretzel" like loop hike of 27 miles, 1,900 feet of elevation gain. Hiking to Chinook Pass makes this thru hike of 28 miles and 2,200 feet of elevation gain. Hiking the opposite direction, from Chinook Pass to White Pass is still 28 miles, but it's an elevation loss of 900 feet.This is a great introduction to backpacking.

getting there

Drive to the White Pass Campground and Pacific Crest Trail trailhead on State Route 12. If hiking thru to Chinook Pass, leave one car here. It is approximately 45 minutes drive to the White Pass Campground.

on the trail

"Figure 8/Pretzel" Loop Hike (27 miles, 1,900 feet)

Head north on the Pacific Crest Trail, hiking along the ridges for 11 mi to just past Snow Lake. Then hike east for 1.8 mi to Twin Sister Lakes.  Return to White Pass via trails to the east that take you south past Tumac Mountain and Dumbell Lake.

Thru Hike White pass to Chinook Pass (28 miles, 2,220 feet)

Why hike south to north?

  • The scenery unfolds and becomes more spectacular each day. Initially wildflower meadows, bug ponds and small lakes evolve into beautiful crest vistas of the Goat Rocks, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainer. Going southbound will have you wanting the car as opposed to enjoying the last day’s majestic views.
  • The sun won’t be in your eyes.
  • The climbs, such as there are, are on Day 3 and Day 4.

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 1 - Hike White Pass to Sand Lake 3 mi or Pipe Lake 7.5 mi. Buesch Lake is at 6 mi and recommended in the guidebook, but we found the bugs intolerable.

Day 2 - Camp at Fish Lake or Crag Lake.

Day 3 - Camp at American Lake or Cougar Lake.

Day 4 - Hike out via Dewey Lake, to Chinook Pass.

Notes

  • Book Reference: Hike #24 in the now out-of-print Mountaineers Book, Best of the Pacific Crest Trail Washington.
  • Experienced hikers with a high level of conditioning may also attempt this route as a very challenging day hike.
  • This is a great introduction to backpacking: hike four days of 7 to 8 miles per day of “relatively” flat backpacking, the trail is well marked, there are abundant camp sites, and many stopping points along the way.
  • Suitable Activities: Day Hiking
  • Seasons: July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 28.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 2,200 ft
  • 6,340 ft
Map
  • Green Trails White Pass No. 303
  • Green Trails Bumping Lake No. 271
  • Green Trails Goat Rocks William O Douglas Wilderness No. 303S
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270
  • Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269SX
Activities

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Trip Reports
Titles

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Pacific Crest Trail: White Pass Loop
  • Pacific Crest Trail: White Pass Pretzel Loop
  • Pacific Crest Trail: Chinook Pass to White Pass
  • Pacific Crest Trail: North from White Pass
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