November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Weekend October backpacking trip to Cascade Mountains?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Rob Zwissler
(robzr) - F
Weekend October backpacking trip to Cascade Mountains? on 08/18/2009 15:13:42 MDT Print View

My girlfriend & I live in Chicago, my brother and his wife live near Portland, and we're thinking about doing a long weekend backpacking trip out in the Cascade Mountains in the first week in October (1st-4th). We're all in reasonable shape and we're not hoping for anything too ambitious, maybe 2 days of 8-12 miles a day or so. We'd be flying into SEA, so we're thinking something within a few hour drive of there would be great. Do any of you guys have any recommendations on trails to consider? How risky would this trip be weather-wise, I understand early October may be hit-or-miss.



Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Fall hiking in the PNW on 08/19/2009 09:44:03 MDT Print View

Yes, hiking at altitude can be dicey with unexpected snowfall, but it can be a beautiful time of year.

Here's a great climate history link:

Check the Mountaineers books for Oregon and Washington. This one on hikes in the Oregon Coast Range caught my eye:

Their Day Hiking series is excellent too:

Mt. Rainer came to mind (lower elevations), as did the Hoh River Trail, and the Olympic Beaches.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Weekend October backpacking trip to Cascade Mountains? on 08/20/2009 08:43:11 MDT Print View

It can be very cold but also blue skies during the day. The last couple years I have been out at those times. Do expect to need winter clothing, 15* degree bags as well. The ground may be frozen on top, with ice on the edge of streams and waterfalls - or not. It could also be warm. You never know :-D

Obviously, the lower in elevation the nicer it usually is. Last year though we hiked first week of November on frozen ground but it was snow-less at 5K at Rainier. It really depends on the weather. You might wake up to 2" snow overnight as well ;-)

Rob Zwissler
(robzr) - F
Re: Weekend October backpacking trip to Cascade Mountains? on 08/20/2009 13:01:20 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info and links... we did some more digging and now we're thinking about doing the High Divide Trail in Olympic National Park (Hoh River Trail sounds great but would be too long for us). Hopefully since it's closer to the ocean and perhaps at lower elevation it won't be quite as risky weather wise, compared to the Cascades. What do you guys think? Any insights on what type of clothes to bring for elevation (max 5475').


Steve Cain
(hoosierdaddy) - F

Locale: Western Washington
High Divide trail on 08/21/2009 21:53:31 MDT Print View

Rob: Start here for some good local info:

NWHikers.Net A very recent High Divide trip report

You might also search at Washington Trails Association. (WWW.WTA.ORG)

In October, I'd definitely carry some decent "cooler weather" gear and be prepared for the possibility of snow and even route finding difficulties. You just never know at that altitude.

Edited by hoosierdaddy on 08/21/2009 21:55:32 MDT.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
the other side of the coin on 08/22/2009 14:16:46 MDT Print View

October hkes can be quite rewarding with the tamarack turning color and perhaps a fresh dusting of snow on the high ridges.
The one thing many visitors forget is how quickly daylight fades especially in canyon bottoms here in the Northwest in the autumn.
The good news is the bugs are mostly gone.
Have a great trip.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Weekend October backpacking trip to Cascade Mountains?" on 08/22/2009 16:51:24 MDT Print View

I've taken some beautiful trips to the Cascades in early October. Just get out (unless you're in a national park) before the general hunting seasons starts October 10. My favorite was along the PCT south of Chinook Pass.

Yes, the days will be short, the nights will be quite frosty and there is always some possibility of snow. Not a big possibility, but be prepared and check the forecast before starting. The spectacular fall foliage (huckleberry, western larch, mountain maple) are well worth the trip.

As for the Olympics, they won't be any warmer than the Cascades. The storms come off the Pacific and hit there first!

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
Holden? on 08/25/2009 15:34:51 MDT Print View

Not sure about Olympics being any better weather then Cascades; would assume its quite the opposite. Also, be prepared to carry bear canisters as they are required thru lots of parts of Olympic NP.

We have just recently discovered a village of Holden in Glacier Peak Wilderness. It can only be reached by boat, and it is situated among the most beautiful places in the world i've ever seen. it gives you instant access into the heart of the wilderness, without roads, noise, tourists, and development. it will give you this feeling "im in the middle of nowhere" - the scenery is just gorgeous and the village is so unique! its only a 3 hr drive from Seattle to chelan landing. you'd also experience on of the deepest and pristine lakes in North America. there are turquoise-colored glacier lakes of an unforgettable color just 4 miles up the trail, with cascading waterfalls, huckleberries, Yosemite-like cliffs...

suggested itinerary:
Day 1: take lady of the lake express, arrive Lucerne.
Take bus to Holden
Hike to Hart lake, make camp there.
Day 2: explore to lower Lyman lake, Cloudy pass, Upper Lyman Lakes. Return to camp (about 12 miles).
Day 3: Hike to Holden, make sure to have a communal lunch over there. Take a bus to Lucerne, get on the lady of the lake, drive home (stop at Leavenworth for dinner).

just a suggestion... pm me if any questions. have fun on your trip! hope the weather holds.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
a very special place on 08/25/2009 17:42:59 MDT Print View

Holden and Stehikin are very special places. You need to return after the first dusting of snow when the tamarack have turned, make the side trip to Domke Lake and Lyman Lake and glacier, you will never forget the scene before you.
The Olympics are very different then the Central Cascades, a totally different eco-zone.The biggest difference would be the guarantee rain of October. The Hoh gets 135 inches a year with the bulk in fall and winter.Holden gets about twice the snowfall as the Olympics, 260" to 120".
The temperatures are generally milder due to the influence of marine air but there is heavy snow up high, still October is darn near magical in both the Cascades and the Olympics. Proven rain gear and layering methods work best.
I believe somewhere on this site is an article relating to staying dry in the Olympics, a good search of the data base here might yield some decent information.