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Cutthroat Lake — scenery worth the short hike.

These hikes (rides) in the northeast portion of the Cascade Loop drive are west of Mazama along Highway 20. The trail to Cutthroat Lake, a lake rimmed by cliffs and high mountains, follows the gentle grade of Cutthroat Creek. For a longer, steeper outing, leading to Cutthroat Pass, a viewpoint with big-time views of the North Cascades, look for the trail junction about 0.25 mile before the lake and follow the trail signed for Cutthroat Pass. The route to the pass has become popular among mountain bikers — strong riders can ride most of the trail. Some riders may find themselves grumbling as they push and sweat on the climb, but their mood will quickly reverse when it’s time to descend.

Skill (hiking): 1 (easy) to the lake, 2 (intermediate) to Cutthroat Pass
Skill (biking): 2+ (strong intermediate) for the ride to Cutthroat Pass
Fitness: 1+ (advance beginner) to lake, 2 (intermediate) to pass

Views enroute to Cutthroat Pass.

Length: about 3.5 miles (roundtrip) to Cutthroat Creek, and 11 miles (roundtrip) to Cutthroat Pass.

Elevation Gain: 500-foot gain to the lake, 2300-foot gain to the pass.

Access. Follow Highway 20 roughly 12.5 west of Mazama. Near milepost 167, turn right (north) onto Forest Road 400 and follow this one mile to the trailhead.

Trip Instructions:
-From the trailhead follow the trail over a bridge that crosses Cutthroat Creek and then climbs into a forest.
-At 1.5 miles, there is a trail junction. The trail splitting right continues up to Cutthroat Pass (another 4 miles to the pass). The trail splitting left descends a little bit and then undulates up and down as it leads to Cutthroat Lake over the course of the next 0.25 miles. Camping is not allowed within 0.25 mile of the lake.

Map: See our topo map of this route.

Issues:  Mountain bikers riding to Cutthroat Pass need to be sensitive about the many hikers using the trail. Be courteous and slow down when passing them. If there are user conflicts and complaints to the Forest Service, mountain bikers (the new kids on the block) will not win the conflict. Also, the trail beyond Cutthroat Pass merges with the Pacific Crest Trail and is strictly closed to mountain biking. Violating the bike closure beyond the pass jeopardizes the ‘open’ status of the trail delivering you here.

Allowed. Hiking, trail running, mountain biking, horseback riding.. Dogs are allowed but should be leashed. No motorized use of these trails is allowed.

Ownership. These lands are part of the Okanogan National Forest.

Permit Required: Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.

Leave It Better than You Found It.
This should be every user’s goal. Do no damage and pick up trash left by others.Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.

This post was originally published on 7/31/14.

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