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Cascades Sea to Summit Highlights

A multi-day sea kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands and an extended backpacking trip in the “American Alps”!


Jul 25 - Aug 07, 2023


14-16 (enter 9th-11th)


$3645 (airfare not incl.)




Please Call
  • Camp in Washington state
  • 3-day Kayak San Juans
  • 6-day Backpack N. Cascades
  • Swim in oceans, lakes and rivers
  • Hike San Juan Islands & ferry
  • Tidepooling & beach time
  • Rafting the Skagit River
  • Celebrate in Friday Harbor, WA
This trip arrives and departs from Seattle, WA

Despite some reservations on her age and readiness for this kind of trip, I encouraged Em to go ahead and have a great time. I sent a child that liked to sit around on Sat mornings and watch cartoons and eat junk food and I got back a child more self confident, who was into yoga...

~ Lisa (Chicago, Illinois)

Trip Description

Summer Teen Travel Adventure Camp in Northwest Washington 

Experience a world-class outdoor playground on this Washington Adventure Camp for Teens! The Pacific Northwest has many gems and the San Juan Islands and the North Cascade Mountains (aka the “American Alps”) are right at the top of the list of best places.

This journey is one of both land and sea. We’ll continue our adventures with a 3-day overnight sea kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands, where, in addition to fabulous paddling every day and camping on different islands, we'll do day hikes, tide pooling and beach time and hope for wildlife sightings - orcas, seals and eagles.  

For two weeks, each camper will be immersed in nature and become very comfortable with adventure that exists away from traditional campgrounds and while having the time of their life!

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Arriving at SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, WA, your Alpenguides will greet you and introduce you to the rest of your group. Icebreakers, name games, and get-to-know-you fun abounds before you and your new expedition mates hop in the van and drive to our first campsite. 

Once we arrive, we'll learn how to set up our tents and enjoy the first of many delicious and fresh camp meals before settling into our tents for the night.  

Day 2: Waking up refreshed and renewed, you’ll grab your sleeping pad, head out to a nearby clearing, and set up for our first daily morning yoga session. After a strong morning stretch, we’ll fill our bellies with a delicious Alpengirl breakfast such as fresh blueberry pancakes served with warm maple syrup. 

After finishing up our intro to camp talks and having lunch, we’ll get suited up and ready for an exciting whitewater rafting trip on the Upper Skagit River! We’ll meet our rafting guides and float this pristine mountain river, with its clear and iridescent green water fresh off of the glaciers of southern British Columbia. This river is a mix between great natural scenery and a nice section of big fun waves in class II - III whitewater. During our rafting trip, we’ll learn about the rich archaeological and historical past that gives the river a near mystical feeling; the area was once home to the first human residents of the corridor, the Upper Skagit Tribe.

After rafting we’re heading into North Cascades National Park to prepare for the upcoming backpacking trip starting tomorrow. 

Days 3-8: It’s finally time to get out on the trail! After your Alpenguides give you a thorough tutorial about how to properly pack only the essentials, adjust and carry your backpack, we’ll jump in the van and drive to the trailhead to start our 38-mile roundtrip trekking expedition.

By connecting a series of trails that go up and down mountains, follow sides of rugged peaks and along lakes and across streams, we’ll complete a six-day, five-night backpacking loop that allows us to experience the natural splendor found in the heart of the North Cascades National Park. On our longest backpacking day, we are up at dawn and hitting the trail early in order to accomplish 12 miles and make it to the end of Lake Chelan (accessed only by foot, boat or plane) and arrive at the Stehekin Pastry Company before closing time and order up a fresh baked pastry or two! During our backpacking trip we'll also enjoy foraging for fresh blueberries and we’ll stay fresh and clean on our expedition by having an Alpenolympic Bucket Hair Washing competition during backpacking and perhaps even daring to jump into a mountain stream or lake!

Day 9: Our backpacking trip has come to a close and today we are on the WA coast and camping near Anacortes where we enjoy showers and laundry at our campsite and ready ourselves for the sea kayaking expedition that starts tomorrow.

Days 10-12: San Juans Islands here we come! We’ll take a morning ferry to arrive at Friday Harbor where we meet our friendly and knowledgable sea kayaking guides. The guides will help us pack our camping gear into boats, explain our route and provide us with an introduction to sea kayak paddling, handling and safety. Then, we’ll head out in our dual kayaks, with an Alpengirl at each helm! We’ll paddle through the San Juan channel to reach an island beach where we set up camp and watch the island sunset after dinner.

On day 2 of kayaking we’ll enjoy a full-day of paddling around the island or to another nearby island and have opportunities for learning about natural history, exploring the intertidal areas, going birding or appreciating other local wildlife knowledge that the guides have to share with us. This afternoon’s adventure may allow us to see eagles, herons, otters, and seals with pups. We could opt for a sunset sea kayak or sunset hike on this night. Tonight we’ll hope to enjoy a meal cooked over the campfire, including our favorite Alpentreat - s’mores! Pull out your costumes and warm up your singing voice, because the Alpenolympic Talent Show event may take place this evening around the campfire.

On our final day of kayaking, we’ll pack up our gear into the boats again and paddle back through a chain of island clusters and may stop for lunch at another island before returning to our starting point at Friday Harbor. From here we’ll head to a local private campground resort and re-group with showers and laundry and another fantastic island sunset together with friends. 

Day 13: A day to sleep-in! It’s been non-stop action and today is another big one with a few hours in downtown in Friday Harbor this afternoon followed by pizza party and our traditional end of session awards ceremony. Pushing on, we must! After a final ferry ride back to the mainland and a drive, we arrive at our campsite near Seattle for a final of night camping together.

Day 14: It’s time to go home! Exchanging hugs with your friends, you’ll depart from SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, WA, knowing that you’ve had a ton of fun and accomplished great things as an Alpengirl and will be a part of our fantastic community for life. See you next summer!

SPECIAL NOTE: This trip is suitable for girls with previous successful multi-day backpacking trip experience. Compared to our other Alpengirl backpacking trips, this is a more challenging adventure, we’re describing it as difficult due to the distance covered, elevation changes, number of consecutive days, amount of food and gear to be carried, and mental challenge of such a hike. Girls should be physically and mentally prepared and eager to hike 5-12 miles per day with a backpack containing up to 1/3 body weight, across rugged terrain with significant changes in elevation.

PLEASE NOTE: Alpengirl reserves the right to cancel or alter any aspect of a program before or during a program, including program itinerary, activities or location for reason including but not limited to weather, environment, logistics or health hazards. If itinerary changes occur, we will substitute comparable alternatives, if possible. If there are significant itinerary changes, parent will be notified by email.

Trip Campsites & Amenities

Six nights are spent in tents in public “front country” campgrounds where we have pre-assigned campsites with neighbors and campground hosts nearby, running potable water, and private outhouses or flushing toilets.

Seven nights are spent in tents in wilderness “back country” areas where we will purify our water before drinking and learn and practice basic Leave No Trace camping skills such as how to select a campsite, how to go to the bathroom, and keep clean outdoors. Most campsites while in the backcountry have an out of the way outhouse available to us.

Why Choose This Trip

This trip is for athletic outdoorsy campers with some previous multi-day backpacking experience and a sincere desire for being off the beaten path while wearing plenty of smiles on those 40 miles :) It's the best of land and sea in the Pacific NW - a majority of the trip days are spent on multi-day expedition. If you are full of energy and adventure and have already proven your love for backpacking and being with others who enjoy the same, you won’t regret trying this one! Ideal for returning Alpengirls who already know they love backpacking and have proven their backpacking skills with us on a previous adventures. Limited to 10 campers in the group.