Elbow Lake Trail

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This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
9.8 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
791 m
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Directions to Trailhead

Elbow Lake Trail is a remote route that takes you to a small elbow-shaped lake (hence the name) in the Mount Baker Wilderness. This hike is 9.7 km long with some challenging elevation gain, but most intermediate and better hikers should be able to enjoy it. This route does get a bit overgrown, and you’ll need to be prepared for an unaided creek crossing. Bring wading shoes!

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Route Description for Elbow Lake Trail

Elbow Lake Trail is a hard 6-mile trek in the Mount Baker Wilderness that takes you to an elbow-shaped lake. There’s also a nice viewpoint over the surrounding mountains and Wiseman Lake on this trail. It tends to be pretty quiet, so it’s a good pick for days when you want to feel like you’ve got the place to yourself.

This route tends to get overgrown, so long pants are recommended. Additionally, the creek crossing sometimes has some logs to help you over, but more often is washed out and needs to be completed with no help. The water can be up to waist high and can flow very quickly, so please exercise caution and come back another day if the water level is too high. For the easiest crossing, try visiting in late summer.

From the trailhead, head down to the creek and carefully make your crossing, or if the water is too high, plan to return another day. On the other side of the river, you’ll hike up the east wall of the valley, alternating a few switchbacks with traversing sections. Follow Hildebrand Creek up the steepest part of the hike, climbing up the valley wall to where Elbow Lake sits. Take in the view and catch your breath before retracing your steps.

Getting to the Elbow Lake Trail Trailhead

The trailhead for the Elbow Lake Trail is on National forest Development Road 38.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground


  • When to do


  • Pets allowed


  • Family friendly


  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Elbow Lake Trail Elevation Graph

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