Take in the excitement of Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through hikers as they approach the last part of their epic journey. The North Cascades is often touted as the most beautiful part of the PCT, and it is easy to see why as you connect between Rainy and Harts Passes. Climb up ridges to enjoy stunning views in all directions, then dive back down into the forest along creeks and riverbeds. This section is also convenient because it is easy to travel north to south or vice versa.
If you choose to start from Harts Pass, begin your trip south from the Harts Pass Campground, or, if you're looking to shave off 2.7 miles, drive all the way to the end of Road 5400 to the PCT South Trailhead. Just past this trailhead, visit the Brown Bear Mine. Then, climb gradually as you wrap around Tatie Peak on your way to Glacier Pass. Descend quickly in a series of switchbacks into Glacier Pass, and enjoy views of Mount Ballard on the right and Azurite Peak in front of you.
Follow Brush Creek until it connects with the West Fork of the Methow River. There is a trail that continues to follow the river along the bottom of Hancock Ridge, but to stay on the PCT stay right. Your next destination is Methow Pass as you wrap around Golden Horn. Golden Creek provides access to Nugget Lakes, but there is no trail to them. Continue to climb until you reach the pass.
Climb a bit more to a popular campsite just past Methow Pass that provides access to Snowy Lakes and stunning views. Traverse the ridge to Granite Pass and climb to Cutthroat Pass. Almost immediately descend down to Rainy Pass, the end of this leg of the journey. You will wrap around Cutthroat Peak and Whistler Mountain and cross Porcupine Creek. Rest and enjoy a picnic at the Rainy Pass Picnic Area once you've made it.