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Help in PNW
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Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Help in PNW on 05/06/2011 20:06:40 MDT Print View

I have a PCT thru coming up and I'm looking at an option if I get to Canada a bit early. The plan would be to head back south a few miles to the Boundary Trail and take it to Ross Lake and pick up the PNT over Whatcom Pass to SR 542, an additional 90 miles.
1) Is that route pretty straight-forward, well marked and actually a trail vs. a lost trail?
2) Is 542 a heavily traveled road that would allow me to hitch into Bellingham?
3) I have heard that area is very nice. Accurate?


Edited by gg-man on 05/06/2011 20:07:46 MDT.

joseph a cruikshank
(bigfeet) - F

Locale: maple valley, WA
"Help in PNW" on 05/15/2011 22:55:28 MDT Print View

I don't know the trail but yes the Mt. Baker Highway is well traveled so getting to Bellingham should be no problem at all. The area is beautiful and there are many hiking opportunities. The small towns of Glacier and Maple Falls near Mt. Baker are sorta hip places to hang out and Bellingham is pretty cool as well.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Whatcom Pass is lovely on 05/15/2011 23:56:54 MDT Print View

Terrific area. Beautiful views, really can't go wrong. There is a lot of information at regarding this area.

Here is a trail report of the Ross Lake to Whatcom Pass area.

The only issue you may encounter is that as you head west, the chance of significant rainfall increases. The PCT jogs a fair distance east as you approach the north of the state - if it were to truly follow the crest, it would likely take along the flanks of Mt. Baker (which in 1999 received in excess of 1,100 inches of snow).

So, if you are getting rain (or snow) on the PCT when you are in the North Cascades or Pasayten, on the west side of the cascade range they will be getting a lot more.

Just one thing to note, you are not allowed to hike from the Canadian side back into the U.S. - I didn't see anyone out there when I crossed the border a couple of years back, but up here they've reported a change in the rules and that they will be enforcing the rules. Just something to consider, should you hike the 8 or so miles from the border to the nearest lodge.

Again, I have no idea how they will enforce this, because I didn't see anyone out there, but perhaps something has changed.

Have fun.


Edited by dirk9827 on 05/16/2011 01:27:31 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Help in PNW on 05/16/2011 12:28:46 MDT Print View

When are you coming? There is still a horrendous amount of snow up there. Instead of peaking and starting to melt April 1 as it normally does, the snowpack has greatly increased in the past 6 weeks. Snow levels in the Pacific NW are still around 3,000 feet, and it's still snowing and avalanching above 5,000 feet. We need a month of hot weather to get back to more normal snow levels!

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Help in PNW on 05/17/2011 07:18:37 MDT Print View

I would be arrive at the end of my PCT thru in late August.

Sounds like my plan is pretty solid. I also will have real live rain gear for that section of my trip, sounds like it will get some use. Thanks for the link to the trip report.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Help in PNW on 05/17/2011 13:10:12 MDT Print View

Even the amount of snow we have should melt by late August!

There are two trails from the PCT down to Ross Lake. You can go from Holman Pass to the southern end of Ross Lake, the route of the Pacific Northwest Trail. Or you can take the true Boundary Trail, known locally as the Three Fools Trail, from Castle Pass (just south of the border) to Lightning Camp on Ross Lake. From reports I've seen, this trail is not maintained and a few sections have considerable blowdown. Considering that I see a trip report or two per year, though, it is passable. To get to Whatcom pass, you have to hike back down to the Ross Lake dam either way, unless you arrange for a water taxi from the Ross Lake resort across the lake to Little Beaver landing. is an excellent source for trip reports.

You do need backcountry permits for camping in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and in North Cascades National Park. Check the NCNP website for details.

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/17/2011 13:11:52 MDT.