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Cascade Range

There are 3,753 named mountains in Cascade Range. The Cascade Range, also referred to as the Cascades, is a major mountain range that extends from southern British Columbia to Northern California. Extending northward for over 700 miles, the Cascades range stretches from Lassen Peak in northern California, through Oregon and Washington before reaching British Columbia.

Allegedly named for its cascading waterfalls, the Cascades include both non-volcanic peaks and a series of noteworthy volcanoes known as the High Cascades. The Cascades are part of the Pacific Northwest section of the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” a ring of volcanoes and associated mountain ranges that contains 75% of the planets active and dormant volcanoes. The Cascade Range is also a part of the American Cordillera, a nearly continuous chain of mountain ranges that form the western backbone of North America, Central America, and South America.

The High Cascades dominate the landscape and contain the tallest active and dormant volcanoes in the region. In fact, over the last several hundred years, all significant eruptions in the contiguous United States have come from Cascade Volcanoes. Two of the most recent eruptions include Lassen Peak and Mount Saint Helens. The 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens is considered the most significant eruption to occur in the contiguous United States and was preceded by two months of earthquakes.

The highest peak in the Cascades and tallest in the state of Washington is Mount Rainier. At 14,409 feet, Mount Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its incredible amount of glacial ice and proximity to Seattle, a highly populated metropolitan area. However, Mount Rainier isn’t the only active stratovolcano in the Cascade Range. Other noteworthy volcanoes include Mount Adams, the second tallest peak in Washington, Mount Hood, and Mount Shasta.

Mount Shasta

The North Cascades, located north of Mt. Rainier, contain mostly high peaks of non-volcanic origin, but also include stratovolcanoes like Mount Baker and Glacier Peak located in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. Mount Baker and Glacier Peak are the only summits that exceed 10,000 feet in the North Cascades and are generally the most popular peaks for climbing.

Mount Rainier

Although only two peaks exceed 10,000 feet, several summits in the North Cascades exceed 9,000 feet and are characterized by dramatic, rugged topography. Recognizable mountains in the North Cascades that exceed 9,000 feet include Bonanza Peak, Mount Fernow, Goode Mountain, Mount Shuksan, and Buckner Mountain.

The small portion of the Cascade Range that reaches into British Columbia is typically referred to as the Canadian Cascades and includes popular peaks like Silvertip Mountain, Slesse Mountain, and Cheam Peak.

In addition to ample outdoor recreation opportunities and beautiful mountain scenery, the Cascade Range has a major impact on the climate, agriculture, and economics of the Northwestern United States and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Because of its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, this region receives record rainfall and snowfall. In fact, Lake Helen, located near Lassen Peak, is considered one of the snowiest places in the world.

To protect and preserve glaciers, volcanoes, rivers, lakes, forests, and wildlife, there are four U.S. National Parks, numerous National Monuments, and thousands of acres of protected wilderness areas located in the Cascade Range. In British Columbia, there are also a number of Provincial Parks that protect portions of the Cascade Range and surrounding wilderness.

Major Trails and Hiking Areas

Mount Baker Wilderness - One of the most heavily glaciated and snowiest mountains in the Cascade Range volcanoes, Mount Baker is a popular destination for winter recreation, hiking, and backpacking. The Mount Baker Scenic Highway is a picturesque drive open year-round that takes visitors to the Mount Baker Ski Area and offers incredible 360-degree views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and other notable North Cascade peaks. Along the highway, visitors can appreciate ample hiking opportunities, including popular trails like Heather Meadows and Artist Point.

Mount Shuksan

Cascade Pass Trail - Situated in North Cascades National Park, the Cascade Pass Trail is considered one of the most popular hiking trails in the region. In part due to its panoramic views of Mix-up Peak, Magic Mountain and Cache Col Glacier. This 3.7-mile, low grade trail attracts visitors from around the world that are looking to admire the North Cascades.

Hidden Lake Trail - Another favorite in the North Cascades, Hidden Lake Trail is a rugged, but rewarding, 9-mile trek that highlights Forbidden Peak, Boston Peak, and Sahale Mountain. At the top, an old fire lookout stands high above the treeline for visitors to take in views of the surrounding scenery.

Skyline Trail - Arguably the most popular trail in Washington State, the Skyline Trail encircles the iconic Mount Rainier in Mount Rainier National Park and provides some of the most incredible vistas and views in the Pacific Northwest. Along the 5.5-mile trail, hikers will experience all of the splendor of Mount Rainier and Nisqually Glacier, in addition to panoramic views of neighboring Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood.

Mount Rainier

Hannegan Pass and Peak - A 5.2-mile hike to the top of Hannegan Peak offers scenic views of the Cascade Range including Mount Sefrit, Nooksack Ridge, Goat Mountain, Mount Baker, and the surrounding Stephen Mather Wilderness.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Located in southwest Washington along the western slopes of the Cascade Range, Gifford Pinchot National Forest encompasses over 1.3 million acres of protected forest, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, volcanoes, and wilderness to explore. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest includes the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and its highest point is Mount Adams, the second tallest volcano in Washington.

Major Cities and Resorts

Seattle, Washington

Just a couple of hours from several major outdoor recreation areas in the Cascades, Seattle is an excellent option for visitors looking to explore all that the Cascades have to offer. Just two hours north of Seattle, visitors can experience North Cascades National Park, while less than two hours south adventurers can be immersed in the Mount Rainier National Park Wilderness. In between the National Parks, several State Parks and recreation areas are accessible for hiking, camping, backpacking, and sightseeing.

Mount Rainier

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-style town nestled in the Cascade Mountains. A popular base camp for visitors to the Cascades, Leavenworth is known for its eclectic festivals and for being nearby popular hiking trails and winter recreation areas like Stevens Pass and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Mount Rainier, skyline trail

Mt. Hood Skibowl

The Mt. Hood Skibowl is an outdoor recreation area located on Mount Hood near Government Camp, Oregon. The Mt. Hood Skibowl gets approximately 800 inches of snow a year and offers 960 acres of skiable terrain. At 3,600-feet, the lodge and surrounding ski area is the closest ski venue to Portland, making the area a popular getaway for locals. Although the Mt. Hood Skibowl is known for its ample winter recreation opportunities, the surrounding wilderness can be enjoyed by hikers, campers, and backpackers, year-round.

Stevens Pass Washington Ski Resort

Located on the crest of Stevens Pass in the Cascade Range, Stevens Pass Ski Resort averages 460 inches of snowfall a year and offers 1,125 acres of skiable terrain, 52 major runs, and numerous bowls for winter recreation enthusiasts to enjoy. Stevens Pass spans two popular national forests, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Wenatchee National Forest and offers a variety of lodging, restaurants, and shopping.

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