Diablo Lake Trail in North Cascades National Park

Diablo Lake Trail

North Cascades National Park
View Photos
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:

User Ratings:
9 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

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.

I’ve done this 12 people have done this
I want to do this 14 want to do this route

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 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.

Comments

Annie Smith 11 months ago

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

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Wyatt Thomas 11 months ago

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

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Becks Red 11 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.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
3h 00m Time Taken
Otis 11 months ago

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

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
3h 00m Time Taken
Cykelly 11 months ago

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

8.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
3h 00m Time Taken
Burokai 11 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
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
7h 00m Time Taken
6 Comments

Similar hikes to the Diablo Lake Trail hike

Views from the Cutthroat Pass in North Cascades National Park

Cutthroat Pass

Difficulty:
16.93km
828m
5-6h

The Cutthroat Pass hike is said to be one of the most scenic stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail in…

Views around the Cascade Pass hike in North Cascades National Park

Cascade Pass Trail

Difficulty:
12.35km
518m
3-4h

Cascade Pass Trail is one of the classic North Cascades hikes. We love Cascade Pass for a relatively easy climb…

Views from the Blue Lake hike in North Cascades National Park

Blue Lake

Difficulty:
7.46km
305m
2-3h

The family-friendly hike to Blue Lake is another North Cascades gem. The whole family will enjoy a leisurely hike out…