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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 18 - Jul 31, 2020


14-16 (enter 9th-11th)


$2970 (airfare not incl.)




  • 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

I thought it was really cool how the Alpenguides taught the campers outdoor cooking. It gave me a chance to improve my cooking skills. It was sweet of the guides to get up every morning and make breakfast. I know it helped to start my day better. The meals that were made were...

~ Karen (Alaska)

Trip Description

Summer Teen Travel Adventure Camp in Northwest Washington for Girls 

Experience a world-class outdoor playground on this Washington Adventure Camp for Girls! 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 girl will be immersed in nature and become very comfortable with adventure that exists away from traditional campgrounds and while having the time of her 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 the 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 the first 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 bacon (YUM!)

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. You might decide to "ride the bull" on the bow of the raft through one of the rapids! 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’ll begin to prepare for our upcoming backpacking trip, which starts 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 20-mile roundtrip trekking expedition.

Our six-day, five-night backpacking trip in North Cascades National Park follows a relatively level shoreline trail that skirts the curves of turquoise-colored Ross Lake. We'll start out on the Ruby Arm of Ross Lake, and camp at several lakeside sites, stopping to swim along the way. We'll stay fresh and clean on our expedition by having an Alpenolympic Bucket Hair Washing competition, entertain each other with trail games and songs, and watch for birds and wildlife on the lake.

On our second to last day of backpacking, we have the opportunity to leave most of our stuff behind in camp and hike to the top of Desolation Peak. The treeless summit offers stunning 360˚ views of the surrounding peaks, rivers, and lakes in this dramatic, heavily glaciated landscape. With clear skies, we can see all the day south to the crags of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. This day hike adds 14 miles to our trip total, and we'll be certain to celebrate our hard work! On our final day of backpacking, we'll jump into a boat taxi that will shuttle us back down the length of Ross Lake to within a short hike of our van.

Day 9: Our backpacking trip has come to a close and today we are on the Washington coast camping near Anacortes where we enjoy showers and laundry at our campsite and ready ourselves for the sea kayaking expedition that starts tomorrow. Tonight we’ll hope to enjoy a meal cooked over the campfire, including our favorite Alpentreat - s’mores!

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, and ocean features such as currents and wave patterns. Then, we’ll head out in our dual kayaks, with an Alpengirl at each helm! We’ll paddle most of the day 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. Pull out your costumes and warm up your singing voice, because the Alpenolympic Talent Show event may take place this evening, with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop for our stage.

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 of souvenir shopping in the quant maritime town of Friday Harbor, followed by pizza party and our traditional end of session awards ceremony. Push 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!

PLEASE NOTE: This is a sample itinerary. Alpengirl reserves the right to cancel or alter any aspect of our program, including program itinerary, trip dates, activities or location, as a result of unforeseen circumstances, including weather, environment, or health hazards. To the best of our ability, substitutions of activities will be comparable to, or better than the original activity. Parents will be notified by email if there are any significant itinerary changes.

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

The Cascades Sea to Summit Adventure is for girls who are excited to get out of their comfort zone a bit and have some real adventures in one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the United States. 

With a longer backpacking trip than most Alpengirl Camps and little daily elevation gain, this camp is perfect for girls who love nature and hiking and want to attempt a peak summit of one of the highest altitudes we reach in our camps. Add on the gorgeous views, refreshing swims in mountain lakes, and the mellow pace, you can’t go wrong with this session. Limited to 10 girls in the group.