Your Guide to a Weekend in the North Cascades

When you’re in need of an escape from city life, nothing refreshes the body and the soul like a trip to the mountains. In every season, for every type of adventurer, the Cascades have something to offer.

This itinerary is created for customization. Extend this weekend guide over a week to get the best of the lakes, mountains, and communities of the Cascades. From a refreshing dip in a lake on a hot summer’s day to the best cross country skiing in the state, this guide can be a go-to for year round exploration. 

Day 1

Head from Seattle to the North Cascade National Park to reach Diablo Lake and the Methow Valley (3 hours 45 minutes).

Diablo Lake (Photo Credit: Michael Denning)
  • Diablo Lake Trail: This 7.5 mile out and back trail is a popular option all year round. While the views are best in the summer months, it is one of the few trails in the area that is accessible in the winter and spring. Bundle up and this trail will feel like a winter wonderland.
  • Methow Trails: How does 200 miles of cross country skiing sound? Be sure to check the trail report before heading out to find the best spots.

Suggested Sleeping: Camp sites can be hard to find because the valley has vigorously protected its rural lands. Check for national forest spots or use Hipcamp to find unique spots to stay. 


Day 2

Drive to Lake Chelan (2 hours 15 minutes) for water sports, hiking trails, and beautiful views of an inland fjord.

On the way to Stehekin
  • Lake Chelan Wine Valley: Enjoy a glass of syrah or chardonnay while you take in the lake and mountain views. There are over 30 wineries and 300 tasting rooms to try!
  • Stehekin: If you have time, take a trip to the unspoiled land of Stehekin. The community is only accessible by boat, plane, or foot. You’ll be surrounded by the trees over a hundred feet tall and the peaks of the North Cascades. The Lady of the Lake passenger ferry is the easiest way to reach this special spot, but be sure to check the ferry schedule. In the winter, it runs about every other day. 

Suggested Sleeping:  Twenty-five Mile creek campground

Day 3

Head to Leavenworth (1 hour 30 minutes) for a little slice of Bavaria in the heart of the Cascades. 

Winter in Leavenworth (Photo Credit: Rosalie Barley)

If you have a longer trip and are feeling ambitious, head up to the Enchantments for some of the best alpine scenery in North America. Overnight camping is by lottery, so a bed at the trailhead is the next best thing. For a more manageable one day hike, try a day trip to Colchuk Lake, a popular alternative to the Enchantment Lakes beyond.

Suggested Sleeping:  Find a spot along Icicle Road and get an early start on a day hike up to the Enchantments. 

Day 4

Head back to Seattle (3 hours).

Cabana Tips:
  • Drive time is highly traffic dependent. Fridays heading out of Seattle and Sunday afternoons coming in on Highway 2 can have a lot of traffic.
  • Check road conditions in the passes. When it snows up in the mountains. the passes are periodically closed while snow gets cleared.
North Cascades Elopement (Photo Credit: Nick and Danee)

At any time of year, the North Cascades are sure to amaze you. Not convinced of their beauty? Read about Kenia and Kyle’s elopement in the Cascades.

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