Diablo Lake Trail in North Cascades National Park

Diablo Lake Trail

North Cascades National Park
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Colonial and Pyramid Peaks on the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonTalus slope on the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonRoss Dam from the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonColonial Peak from the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonHiking the Diablo Lake Trail in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonHiking across the suspension bridge on the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonSuspension bridge on the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonBoarding the boat on the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonRiding the boat on the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonSourdough Mountain from the boat on the Diablo Lake Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, Washington

Diablo Lake Trail

Distance: 7.1km
Elevation: 244m
Time: 3-4h

Difficulty Rating:

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9.5 Overall Rating
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The hike along the Diablo Lake Trail rises 213m 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 11.3km. Turn left onto Diablo Dam Road. Cross the dam, and in a little more than a 1.6km you will arrive at the trailhead parking area.

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About

When to do

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

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Yes, at North Cascades Environmental Learning Center

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

One Way


Diablo Lake Trail
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Diablo Lake Trail

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, the Diablo Lake Hike can be hiked out-and-back, turning around at either the Ross Dam overlook or the suspension bridge. We suggest hiking out during the summer months for the full ferry experience.

Begin the Diablo Lake Trail 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 of hiking. At 0.5km 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 2.9km, 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 610m at 4.0km. In another 1.6km, 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 6.4km. After crossing the bridge, follow the road south – through a tunnel and past a restroom, turning right at the road junction at 6.9km – to the Diablo Ferry dock. The ferry only comes twice daily during the summer, so be sure to arrive on time (9am and 3:30pm). Fares are $10 per person. Enjoy the ride back!

Hiking Trail Highlights

Diablo Lake

Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park
Diablo Lake

Diablo Lake is a gorgeous reservoir in the Cascade mountains of northern Washington. It is a man-made lake, created by the Diablo hydroelectric dam in the Skagit River, but its remote location and stunning natural surroundings prevent the area from feeling artificial. The lake itself is a lovely turquoise color, thanks to the nearby glaciers, and against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the effect is jaw-dropping.

For more ways to enjoy Diablo Lake drive along the North Cascades Highway and stop at the Diablo Lake Overlook. There are three small areas for camping on Diablo Lake, all of which are boat-in only. More camping is available nearby in North Cascades National Park. Both the Colonial Creek campground and the Gorge Lake campground are waterfront campgrounds that are an easy distance from Diablo Lake and can be accessed by car from the North Cascades Highway.

Want to find more amazing hikes in North Cascades National Park? Check out the Maple Pass Loop or the Cascade Pass trail.

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.

  • This scenic trail is perfect to bring someone with you on a hiking date.

Comments

Papa smurph 4 weeks ago

I love that there are so many different things to see here: mt views, lake views, forest, rock slopes, canyon, and of course the lake itself. Everything is beautiful!

10.0 Overall Rating
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3h 25m Time Taken
Tom Pack. 1 month ago

Its a lake with beautiful color!! easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever been

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Sally S. Norbert 1 month ago

One of the best lakes to view in Washington. Do not miss this, it's beautiful! A must do!

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3h 15m Time Taken
Lambert O 2 months ago

Nice views of Diablo Lake along the trail. Highly recommended

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3h 15m Time Taken
Jellybean 2 months ago

Hike was beautiful from start to finish. No snow and the views were breathtaking.

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3h 00m Time Taken
Aleysha C. 2 months ago

This lake is so beautiful and is a must visit for anyone who enjoys scenic landscapes.

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Stewart Graham 2 months ago

This lake is so beautiful and is a must visit for anyone who enjoys scenic landscapes.

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footfall 2 months ago

Quite an easygoing hike with some gorgeous and breathtaking sceneries.

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HIllaryPNW 2 months ago

I have been here twice and this placed gets more beautiful every time. I will definitely come back.

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Zoey Mann 3 months ago

Such a romantic view, surrounded by nature and other couples along the trails.

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20 Comments Show all

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