My name is Eddie, and I have been hiking for many happy years. North Cascades National Park is an excellent place for hiking and trekking at any time of the year. It has majestic alpine lakes, glacier-capped mountains, and evergreen forests. I am Eddie, and if you love hiking and trekking as much as I do, keep reading this guide on what you should pack for your visit to the North Cascades National Park.
North Cascades National Park is located in Washington state. The North Cascades Highway is the main access road to the park. Along this road, you can find a lot of campsites. The thing is, campgrounds are not located within the territory of the park but at the backcountry. They are considered as part of the whole complex even though they are not located inside the North Cascades National Park.
You can visit North Cascades for free. Therefore, you can enjoy beautiful landscapes without paying any entrance fee. Only if you want to make a reservation in a campground in advance, you will have to pay a small fee.
It can be quite stressful and time-wasting to prepare for a hiking trip without a detailed North Cascades packing list. Thus, I have organized the checklists below the way that you will be able to easily find out what items you need for hiking in the summer or winter. I have also included a short review of each item and some additional information that I find important.
What to Bring to the North Cascades in The Spring or Summer
The North Cascades National Park is pretty crowded at this time of the year. I advise making bookings in advance because the first-come-first-serve campgrounds get full before noon. So, let’s start with a packing list for the warm season.
North Cascades Hiking Gear: What to Wear?
The weather in North Cascades can be quite unpredictable during the spring and summer. Therefore, what to wear to North Cascades becomes a serious concern for even experienced hikers. Here are the clothes I recommend to wear and carry with for a whole day hiking and multi-day trekking:
- A lightweight T-shirt – It is really hot in the summer, so make sure to pack one or two T-shirts in your backpack even if you plan to go hiking only.
- A long-sleeved shirt – You also need a comfortable and lightweight shirt.
- A sweatshirt/raincoat – It is a must-have for hiking and trekking because the weather is unpredictable, and it can get pretty cool in the evening. Look for a soft and durable sweatshirt or a waterproof raincoat that will also protect you from rainfall.
- At least three pairs of socks – Make sure to include these in your North Cascades backpacking list. It is essential to have an extra pair of dry socks in case your feet get wet.
- A hat – You need a good protection for your head from direct sun rays. Make sure to wear a hat and cover your shoulders with some light cloth to protect yourself from sunstroke.
- Pajamas – If you go trekking, you will be staying overnight in a campground or the park itself. Thus, don’t forget to pack something comfortable to sleep in.
- Long underwear – Underwear made from polyester or nylon is best in for hiking activities.
- A power bank – Make sure to carry a power bank to prevent your phone’s battery running out when you are deep in the woods.
- A camera – In case you don’t like to use the camera on your phone, take a camera with you to capture memorable moments and breathtaking landscapes.
- A compass – You can take a map of North Cascade Park at the entrance, but if you are not used to reading knowledge maps, it will be easier to understand directions with a compass.
- GPS – Although you have GPS on your phone, it is not that accurate outside cities. Carry hiking equipment that can save you from hard times.
- A tent – If you go trekking, make sure to carry a durable tent to place either in a campground or in the woods. Go for waterproof equipment.
- A sleeping bag – Cold nights won’t bother you if you have a sleeping bag. I recommend choosing the lightweight one.
- A sleeping pad – Carrying a sleeping pad will make your sleep more comfortable. It is optional, but I advise packing it with you, especially if you plan to spend a couple of nights on the ground. Without the sleeping pad, you may wake up already tired, that will negatively reflect on your hiking experience.
Toiletries are simply personal, so it is up to you what to pack for a hiking or trekking journey and what to leave at home. The toiletries will help you to stay clean and fresh during the whole trip.
I recommend carrying a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, sanitizer, etc. Don’t forget about packing a bath towel that may not seem an essential one, but you will need it during your trekking trip. It is one of those items that I believe is not easy to remember if you are packing at the last hour.
Additional Items to Pack
- A reusable water bottle – You will come across some water points while hiking. Therefore, take a water bottle and a water filter to get use of them.
- A first aid kit – It is a crucial thing to include in your list. Minor accidents might occur during your hike, so you should carry the necessary medication to give some first aid.
What to Pack for the North Cascades in Winter
Hiking and trekking during winter have their beauty and atmosphere. Winter is the best time to visit the park if you do not like crowds in the woods. Although most people prefer to stay indoors due to the cold weather, you can take all the benefits from winter hiking.
There are different things to pack, depending on whether you are going hiking or trekking. Such items as toiletries and electronics stay the same, but you need to pack warmer clothes and trekking equipment. I advise preparing exceptionally well for a winter hike because it will be pretty cold out there, and you don’t want to miss a thing. So, let’s talk about the specific items you need to include in your packing lists for hiking in the winter:
Winter Hiking Gear
- A waterproof backpack – You will need a bigger backpack compared to the one you can take in the summer. You will need to pack heavier and voluminous clothing, so you will need more space for it.
- A winter hat – You need a hat that covers your ears. It can be a synthetic or woolen hat as long as it keeps you warm. A face mask is also a good item to pack and wear in case your face gets cold.
- Mittens/gloves – You need to wear gloves or mittens to protect your hands from cold. Also, carry an extra pair in case the first one gets wet.
- Thick socks – Woolen socks will keep your feet warm so that you can go hiking for many hours. Same, don’t forget to pack an extra pair or two in case your socks get wet.
- Winter hiking footwear – If there is a forecast for snow, rain, or fog, I highly recommend wearing special hiking boots. They will keep your feet warm because they are insulated and waterproof.
Additional Gear to Include in Winter Packing List for North Cascades
- Gaiters – To protect yourself from snowflakes and raindrops ending up in your hiking boots, consider wearing gaiters. These items will cover your shins and fully protect them.
- Trekking poles – You may not always need them, but it is windy, snowy, or muddy around, trekking poles can be a good solution.
- A headlamp – Sometimes, it can get dark when you are still in the woods, so a headlamp will help you a lot in hiking in the evening.
- Goggles/glasses – Goggles protect your eyes from falling snow and rainfall so that you can see the trail. It is not the item you will be wearing all the time, but it may be really helpful during some harsh weather conditions.
Concluding Remarks on Packing to North Cascades National Park
Here are my detailed checklists of things to should carry for hiking or trekking in North Cascades National Park. Bookmark this page not to miss a thing when preparing for your trip to this beautiful place. No matter if you visit the park in the warm or cold season, you will be fascinated by the beauty of nature and amazing landscapes. I wish you the best experience on your journey, and I hope that you’ve found these packing lists helpful.
However, you are welcome to add a thing or two as you pack. What items would you like to add to it? What things have you forgotten to carry along with you before, and how did you go about it? Have you ever been to North Cascades National Park? Let’s discuss some hiking packing tips in the comments below.