Hike to Cutthroat Pass

Rate this Adventure Washington Cutthroat Pass via Cutthroat Lake

Added by Emily Noyd

Top-notch day hike or overnight trip in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest with panoramic views from the Pacific Crest Trail.

Looking for a distinctive high-country hike just east of the pass? Cutthroat Pass is a hearty day hike perfect for gaining elevation and views with every step. It's even more dynamic as a point-to-point, exiting via the Pacific Crest Trail if you have two vehicles. Also great for a one-night backpacking trip, with possible extension for 2+ nights by heading north on the PCT.

For the basic out-and-back, park your vehicle at the Cutthroat Pass trailhead (#483), accessed via Highway 20 (just east of Washington Pass). The very short USFS road 400 will bring you to the parking area; don't forget your NW Forest Pass! A relatively flat 2 mile jaunt and spur trail to the left will bring you to Cutthroat Lake. Pause briefly, but continue back to the main trail and upwards for the real reward: breathtaking views from the pass and PCT. By turning back, you'll complete the 11 mile roundtrip journey. There's plenty of camping opportunities just below the pass, no permit required for overnight stays. Look for a bare patch of rock or dirt where someone else has already camped. Hang food in the sturdier trees or use a bear-resistant food canister. Please no campfires in this delicate environment!

If you choose the point-to-point option, park a second car at the northern Rainy Pass trailhead (north of Highway 20 just west of Washington Pass). This parking lot also requires a NW Forest Pass, so double up at the ranger station. After reaching Cutthroat Pass, head south on the PCT for 5 miles rather than turning back the way you came. This option is a great way to experience the PCT for day-trippers, and requires much less elevation loss on the way back.

Interested in extending your journey for multiple nights? Hike north on the PCT instead and explore the wonders of Methow Pass, Snowy Lakes, the Pasayten Wilderness, and beyond. Just remember your blue bags and waste disposal methods... No backcountry toilets out there!

Pack List

  • NW Forest Pass
  • 10 essentials
  • Camera to capture views at the pass
  • Sunscreen/hat (intense "eastside" heat!)
  • Hiking shoes
  • 2-3 liters of water per person
Staying overnight?
  • Tent (trees aren't strong enough to support hammocks)
  • Camp stove and fuel
  • Food storage plan (40 ft of rope or canister)
  • Extra water (depending on month, could be very little to none at the pass)
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

11 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2300 Feet

Features:

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

Added by Emily Noyd

Wilderness ranger in Yosemite National Park. Raised by Washington mountains and Puget Sound islands. I live for sunrise, backcountry cooking, climbing, roadtrips, and coffee.

More Adventures Nearby

Explore Teddy Bear Cove

Washington / Teddy Bear Cove Parking

On Chuckanut Drive (State Route 11) pull off onto a small, unmarked, one-way road that offers parking for Teddy Bear Cove before quickly rejoining the road.

Backpack to Grand Park in the Olympics

Washington / Obstruction Point Trailhead

The beauty of many of the north coast trails in the Olympic Peninsula is that your car does a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Nick Lake
12 Saves

Hike to Three Fingers Lookout

Washington / Three Fingers Trailhead

Approximately 11 miles east of Granite Falls, WA, on the Mt. Loop Highway,  turn onto Forest Service road 41 and follow this road for 18.0 miles to the trailhead.

James Brady
45 Saves