Twisp Pass─Golden larches, fire-red meadows and sublime North Cascades views

Spectacular autumn colors await you at Twisp Pass.

Spectacular autumn colors await you at Twisp Pass.

Quick Facts

Location: Twisp River Valley-North Cascades

Land Agency: US Forest Service and National Park Service

Roundtrip: 9.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,460 feet

Green Trails Map: Stehekin, WA – No 82

Recommended Guidebook: Day Hiking North Cascades (Romano)

Contact: Methow Valley Ranger District: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Notes: Northwest Forest Pass required. Dogs prohibited beyond Twisp Pass.

Access: From Twisp follow Twisp River Road which becomes FR 44-then FR 4440 24.6 miles to trailhead.

Good to Know: Dog-friendly, kid-friendly, summer wildflowers, autumn colors, Practice Leave No Trace Principles

A dramatic portal into the North Cascades National Park, this hike is absolutely glorious in October when golden larches set the surrounding slopes aglow and crimson blueberry bushes light the alpine meadows on fire!

From the trailhead, venture west and soon enter the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness. The trail follows alongside the Twisp River, undulating between lush forest, recently burned forest and brushy avalanche slopes. Pass giant cottonwoods shedding yellow leaves onto the forest floor. Reach a junction at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Twisp River. The trail right leads to Copper Pass; stay left crossing the North Fork on a narrow bridge. Then steadily gain elevation and skirt around Lincoln Peak. Thinning pines and ledges provide for good glimpses down the glacially-carved Twisp River Valley.

The trail works its way higher along Lincoln’s south slopes. Admire growing views of South Creek Butte, Crescent, Hock and Twisp Mountains. Pass rock gardens, blueberry patches, heather meadows and clumps of subalpine fir. At 4.6 miles arrive at 6064-foot Twisp Pass. A well-weathered sign indicates you’re only a few steps away from entering the sprawling North Cascade National Park.

Dagger Lake lies within it—attainable by continuing another mile and losing 650 feet along the way. If that doesn’t sound too enticing consider following a short path left to a small tarn in the shadow of craggy Twisp Mountain. Supreme wanderings however lie in the other direction. Locate an abandoned but obvious trail heading north from the pass. Traversing meadows and subalpine forests beneath Lincoln Butte, this trail marches on towards Stiletto Peak. Enjoy sharp views of Stiletto and down to Dagger. The only thing more impressive than the views of the surrounding jagged North Cascades Peaks are the prolific larches clinging to steep slopes brushing them gold. The tread eventually leads to a high basin cradling Stiletto Lake. If you’re with your canine companion however, you’ll have to be content with the views from the pass.

For more detailed information on this hike and 135 others throughout the North Cascades, pick up a copy of my new and best selling Day Hiking North Cascades 2nd edition

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