Picture Lake Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Easy
Duration
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.
0.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
0.6 km
Elevation
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.
9 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.8
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Picture Lake hike in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

The 0.8 km paved Picture Lake loop hike is exactly that: a picture-perfect trail for strollers and wheelchairs. Aptly-named Picture Lake, this trail is popular for photo-ops due to its easy access and incredible views of Mount Shuksan reflected back into the crystal clear waters.

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Route Description for Picture Lake Trail

Start the Picture Lake trail from the parking area, where you’ll find a few short paths lead down to the lake. Set out in either direction on the loop. Your first stops will surely be at the dock and the interpretive overlook for head-on views of Mount Shuksan – if the weather is clear. Said to be one of the most photographed peaks in North America, the Shuksan stands at 2,783 m, and is classified as aglaciated massif (not a volcano). It is located within the boundaries of North Cascades National Park and althoughPicture Lake is not within the park proper, it’s close enough for fabulous photos of the mountain.

Benches provide a place to rest and take in the views. In addition to Mount Shuksan, you can spot Table Mountain, Mount Herman, and Ruth Mountain along the loop – not to mention countless others in the distance. During the summer— blueberries, heather, and fireweed line the trail. Come fall, the vegetation turns fiery red-orange which stands out in spectacular contrast to Picture Lake’s blue waters and the snow-white glaciers of Mount Shuksan.

The Picture Lake trail is particularly popular for families, as the trail is a graded pathway of pavement and boardwalk, making it easy for children of all ages to enjoy. Pass by two fantastic viewpoints of Mount Shuksan and snap a picture or two. Calm mornings and evenings are the best time to grab a crystal clear snapshot of the sunrise and sunset in the water and the park can be bustling with photographers.

Would you like to see more hikes in Mount Baker? Check out the Yellow Aster Butte, Chain Lakes Loop, Skyline Divide Trail or Heliotrope Ridge.

Insider Hints for Picture Lake Trail

  • This little lake is perfect for families, those with mobility issues, and anyone seeking a scenic stroll. Take your time walking, viewing, and learning. The interpretive signs tell the story of how the glacially-carved lake came to be.
  • No swimming or entering the water is permitted at Picture Lake.
  • To hike closer to Mount Shuksan, try the Lake Ann Trail.

Getting to the Picture Lake Trail Trailhead

To get to Picture Lake, from Glacier, drive 33.8 km east on Mount Baker Highway to mileposts 54. Park on the left side of the road, next to the lake. A Northwest Forest Pass is required.

Route Information

  • When to do

    July to October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    No

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Picture Lake Trail Elevation Graph

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Picture Lake Trail Reviews

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