Diablo Lake Trail hike

North Cascades National Park
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Diablo Lake Trail hike

Distance: 4.4mi
Elevation: 801ft
Time: 3-4h

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The hike along the Diablo Lake Trail rises 700ft above Diablo Lake, delivering hikers to a view of Ross Dam before dropping to a suspension bridge over Lake Diablo. During summer, the Diablo Lake Trail can be done as a one-way hike with a ride back to the trailhead via the Diablo Lake Ferry.

Diablo Lake Trail hike Map

Getting there

From Newhalem, drive east on the North Cascades Highway (SR 20) for 7.0mi. Turn left onto Diablo Dam Road. Cross the dam, and in a little more than a 1.0mi you will arrive at the trailhead parking area.

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When to do

June - October (one-way with ferry return) or Year-round (Out and Back)

Backcountry Campsites



Yes, at North Cascades Environmental Learning Center

Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

One Way

Diablo Lake Trail
Elevation Graph

Route Description for Diablo Lake Trail hike

One-way or round-trip, the Diablo Lake Trail offers a nice hike above the shores of Lake Diablo. From June to October, Seattle City Light provides ferry service on the lake, allowing for a one-way hike and scenic boat ride back. During the rest of the year, this trail can be hiked out-and-back, either turning around at the Ross Dam overlook or the suspension bridge. We suggest hiking out during the summer months for the full ferry experience.

Begin from the North Cascades Institute parking lot. Restrooms and information are available at the Institute’s Environmental Learning Center. If you plan to take the ferry, it’s always a good idea to check in here and make sure that it’s running. Setting out from the signed trailhead, enter the forest for a leisurely 0.5mi of hiking. At 0.3mi continue straight at a junction, then cross Deer Creek and begin climbing.

Diablo Lake Trail tickles the toes of giant Sourdough Mountain. Continue to an unsigned overlook at 1.8mi, where Colonial Peak and Pyramid Peak are visible from a makeshift bench. Power lines buzz overhead – a reminder that the Diablo, Gorge, and Ross dams have generated hydroelectricity here for decades. Lake Diablo itself is a reservoir created by these dams – part of the greater Skagit River.

Follow the trail as it climbs to its high point of 2000ft at 2.5mi. In another 1.0mi, reach a signed overlook of Ross Dam. This is a good turnaround point for roundtrip hikers. If you plan to take the ferry back or would like to see the suspension bridge, follow the switchbacks down to the bridge at 4.0mi. After crossing the bridge, follow the road south – through a tunnel and past a restroom, turning right at the road junction at 4.3mi – to the Diablo Ferry dock. The ferry only comes twice daily during summer, so be sure to arrive on time (9am and 3:30pm). Fares are $10 per person. Enjoy the ride back!

Insider Hints

  • Alternatively, you can catch the ferry on the Diablo (west) side, taking it to the Ross (east) side and hiking back. The ferry departs from the west side at 8:30am and 3pm.


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Annie Smith 2 months ago

Hiking Diablo trail then taking the ferry ride back was a really nice and relaxing day out in the North cascades.

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Wyatt Thomas 2 months ago

Diablo Lake trail was a nice hike, I enjoyed seeing the dam.

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Becks Red 2 months ago

everyone was talking about Diablo lake when I got to North Cascades. And it was something special. Great hike. Really enjoyed the green views.

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Otis 2 months ago

What a stunning lake. We were hoping to refresh in the water but the water was soo cold

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Cykelly 3 months ago

The Ross damn looked astonishing. Such a modern structure in a beautiful wilderness. Interesting combination.

8.0 Overall Rating
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Burokai 3 months ago

Nice walk along the lake. It took us way longer to complete it because we've walked forward and returned. Tried the water but it was soo cold!

8.0 Overall Rating
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