The hike to Welcome Pass is quinessitially North Cascades with dense wet forests, beautiful high alpine vistas, and an unrelenting climb.
From the trailhead you're lulled into thinking this is a leisurely hike as the trail follows an old forestry road through the lush green undergrowth and across small streams. Then you make a right turn and the gentle gradient of the forestry road gives way to a merciless ascent up more than 60 switchbacks with the gradient occassionally exceeding 30 percent.
Somewhat abruptly, the trail emerges from the forest and you're in the open alpine and at a junction. The High Divide Trail runs westward (to the left) with a rough trail leading right to the peak. Head to the right, where you'll be surrounded by an abundance of wildflowers in the summer and fiery fall colors in late September and October. Blueberries and huckleberries are also prevalent through late summer and early fall.
The final half mile consists of unobstructed jaw-dropping views in all directions. To the north you can see into Canada, and as you scan to the east, Yellow Aster Butte comes into view, then the Nooksack Cirque and Mount Shuksan. To the south, Ptarmigan Ridge runs from Artist Point to the glaciers of Mount Baker. Finally, to the west lies the Nooksack Valley and the High Divide stretching on to Excelsior Pass.