Day hike to Cutthroat Pass to find the larches

Day Hike to Cutthroat Pass to Find Larches

By Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

February 19, 2021


Location

Length

Elevation

Our Rating

North Cascades, PCT Trail

11.5 miles, roundtrip

(This is from what we recorded on a Garmin Fenix 6x

Gain: 2000 ft.

Highest Point: 6800 ft.

We've been to a lot of areas during larch season, and Cutthroat Pass has got to be one of the best areas we have found to see the larches changing colors.

Driving up towards Cutthroat Pass, it is pretty unassuming that there are a lot of larches to see. But as you hike up towards the pass, you break out into an amazing area where the larches are roaming wild.

Getting Started

The trailhead for Cutthroat Pass is just off of Highway 20 at Rainy Pass. The trail starts off gradual as you make your way through a dark forest. You'll come across some openings where you can see views across the way towards Black Peak.

Around 1.5 miles you'll come across a creek to cross. When we came, the creek wasn't flowing very much, so it wasn't difficult to get by. Earlier in the season with more snowmelt, it might become a bit more tricky to cross.

You'll continue onward as you start to climb more. Eventually, the trees thin out and you come around the corner to your first taste of the larches. If you come here in October, these larches should be turning colors, so plan accordingly.

Final Push to Cutthroat Pass

If you came during larch season, you'll probably spend the majority of your time staring at the larches. But if you continue onward, you'll make your way through switchbacks that take you up to the pass.

At the top of the pass, the views are absolutely stunning of the peaks around you. It is a great place to stop and have lunch. Since this is along the PCT, you can continue to follow the trail all the way up to Canada.

If you brought your overnight pack, you can hike down to Cutthroat Lake and stay the night down there.

Click on images below to see a bigger picture

Waterfalls along the PCT
Bent over larch
Larches from above on the way to Cutthroat Pass
Sarah Carroll walking through the larches
Looking across at Rainy Pass
Sarah Carroll standing at Cutthroat Pass
Moody storms in the North Cascades
Amazing lighting shining on the larches at Cutthroat Pass

Practicing LNT Principles, and Giving Back

We really want to encourage everyone to practice LNT principles when they explore these beautiful places. We spent years trying to minimize social impact on these locations, but the cat is out of the bag and these places are easy to find online. So it is our mission to share more about ways to keep these places as pristine as possible.

We also donate 3% of all our profits to organizations supporting the outdoors and working hard to keep these areas protected and safe.

About the author

Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

Bryan Carroll is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and Movement Therapist who helps the outdoors community to reduce injuries and improve their health so they can get back to exploring nature. His big health crisis from mold exposure taught him the importance of finding the root causes to illnesses so you can take back control of your life. He is also the host of the Summit For Wellness Podcast.

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