Rainy Pass to Snowy Lakes

Experience the Pacific Crest Trail and the North Cascades crest at their finest. Follow the Pacific Crest Trail north from Rainy Pass on this 40 mile round trip, 3,550 foot route over Cutthroat, Granite and Methow Passes to two lovely alpine lakes in the shadow of the Golden Horn.

getting there

Drive SR-20 to the parking lot on the north (left) side. This is the Rainy Pass Trailhead (4,875 ft).

on the trail

Follow the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)  through forest on a moderate grade.  Then switchback up to Cutthroat Pass (5 mi, 6,800 ft gain) to broad views of the North Cascade peaks all around.  Reach Granite Pass at 6.25 mi. Here snowfields may cross the trail until August. If there is snow you need an ice axe, because it's steep and exposed! 

Continue on a cliff-clinging blasted-out trail to Methow Pass, turn north and climb a steep half mile to Lower Snowy Lake and then Upper Snowy Lake, from which major ridge rambling is possible.  The meadows at the lakes are fragile so please camp down by the PCT on established campsites.


  • Rainy Pass to Cutthroat Pass:  5 miles
  • Cutthroat Pass to Granite Pass: 2.4 miles
  • Granite Pass to spur trail up to Granite Lakes:  2.2 miles


  • Much of this trail is above treeline with very little shade or cover from storms. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
  • The golden color of the larches is glorious in October!
  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking
  • Seasons: July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 40.4 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,550 ft
  • 6,900 ft
  • Green Trails Washington Pass No. 50
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park

Upcoming Activities

CHS 2 Hike - Rainy Pass to Snowy Lakes

Day Hiking Field trip: Conditioning Hiking Series
CHS 2 GO-GETTER HIKE. Experience the Pacific Crest Trail and the North Cascades crest at
Fri, Aug 20, 2021
No Prerequisites
6 participants
Registration opens Jul 21
Seattle Branch
Trip Reports

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