Desolation Peak Trail

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
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.
15.5 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.
1,364 m
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Directions to Trailhead

Desolation Peak Trail is a hard hike that is accessed by boat rental or water taxi across Ross Lake. This hike packs in the elevation gain, but the views from the top will make it feel worthwhile. There is also a campsite just past the halfway mark of the ascent that you can use to stretch this adventure into a multi-day experience.

Poles are helpful for this hike.

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Route Description for Desolation Peak Trail

Desolation Peak is a challenging but rewarding hike, taking you up a steep but well-kept trail to a viewpoint over Ross Lake and the surrounding mountains. This hike is accessed by boat, and you can either rent a boat from Ross Lake Resort or take a water taxi to the trailhead.

The route is well-maintained but steep, so poles are recommended. Despite this being a dog-friendly trail, your water taxi or boat rental may not allow dogs, so check ahead of time.

Begin from the lakeshore trailhead, hiking up through switchbacks. While a short traverse breaks up the turns, it’s back to switchbacks as you approach the Desolation camp on your right. Go left here to make the final approach to the summit. You’ll have much less shade for the last quarter of the trail, so bring lots of water.

From the summit, admire the snow-capped peaks of the North Cascades and look up the lake all the way to Canada. Say hi to the ranger if he’s around, then pack up and retrace your steps to the shore.

Getting to the Desolation Peak Trail Trailhead

The trailhead for Desolation Peak Trail is on the eastern shore of Ross Lake north of Cat Island.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground


  • When to do


  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly


  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Desolation Peak Trail Elevation Graph

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