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Advanced CHS 1 Hike - Cascade Pass/Sahale Arm

A classic North Cascades hike, Cascade Pass/Sahale Arm offers hikers the reward of amazing views on a clear day and the test of conditioning over a variety of trail conditions.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • There are two challenging sections of terrain if you hike all the way up to Sahale Arm base camp. You climb 800 feet in 1 mile across rocky trail sections as you travel up from Cascade Pass to Doubtful Lake trail cut off. Now you are at 6,000 feet, which may also be challenging for individuals not accustomed to the altitude and it goes up from here to over 7,200 feet. The last section up to base camp is a scramble, look for the cairns to find your way across the rocky sections.

The Cascade River Road was in good condition. We arrived at the parking lot about 8:15 am and were surprised that it was almost full that early in the morning.

The hike to Cascade Pass is a classic North Cascade's trek through the forest and along an open section of trail on a rocky ledge. We took a break here for a snack. There is a primitive toilet here.

From Cascade Pass the work begins. You climb out of the Pass on a rocky steep 800'/.75-mile section that brings you to 6,000 feet and the Doubtful Lake trail cut off. From here the trail gently rolls along the ridge gaining more altitude and offering super views at every turn. This is a hike where I think it is important to stop often and take in the vistas. The last section of trail is a very steep, rocky scramble. Five of our eight hiking team members decided to do the last section and enjoyed amazing views from the base camp at 7,200'. Between the terrain and altitude this was a challenging hike for most of our conditioned hikers. At base camp we were in a lady bug swarm - hundreds if not thousands of lady bugs in the air and all over use and our gear.

The flies were awful! Along the arm large Horse flies were biting. In the afternoon, the flies were swarming hikers from Cascade Pass all the way to the parking lot.

We were on the trail about 9.5 hours. We started at a 2+-mile per hour pace that gave way to 1-mile per hour on the arm. We took breaks every half hour to hour to regroup, hydrate or take snacks. I think some would have enjoyed staying longer and exploring from base camp but we had three hikers waiting for us at lower locations.

We enjoyed a meal at Buffolo Run in Marblemount, before heading home.