Hidden Lake Trail hike

North Cascades National Park
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Hidden Lake Trail hike

Distance: 8.1mi
Elevation: 2,999ft
Time: 5-6h

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9.8 Overall Rating
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We love to hike the Hidden Lake Trail. This is true North Cascades beauty, with wildflowers, rocky spires, an alpine lake and an historic lookout awaiting hikers on the Hidden Lake Trail. Enjoy countless Cascade views as you hike this tough trail.

Hidden Lake Trail hike Map

Getting there

From Marblemount, drive the Cascade River Road for 9.8mi to the junction with FS 1540, signed for Hidden Lake Trail. Drive the steep, rocky road 4.5mi to the road end trailhead. No pass required.

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About

When to do

July to October

Backcountry Campsites

Yes, at Hidden Lake and lookout

Toilets

No

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Out and back


Hidden Lake Trail
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Hidden Lake Trail hike

Hidden Lake Trail has become an explosively popular hike in recent years. Because its deep blue lake and ominously perched lookout are more photogenic than most, photo features – from social media to magazines – have skyrocketed. Don’t come to Hidden Lake seeking to escape the crowds. A weekday hike is most rewarding, especially during fall once summer crowds have thinned.

The 1.0mi climbs steadily through silver fir forest. Several creeks cross the path. Views open up after the 1.0mi mark, where you’re greeted by summer wildflowers or autumn foliage. Climb beneath peaks through the Sibley Creek valley, turning around for views to Mount Baker, the Twin Sisters, and Sauk Mountain.

At around 2.4mi the grade tapers off as views continue to improve. Blueberries are notoriously irresistible through this section, so take time to indulge. At 3.1mi the grade picks up again as the trail turns towards the lookout. Beyond this point, the trail can be tricky to navigate if there’s any snow left on the ground. Know your limits, and don’t continue if the conditions are dangerous.

Peer up at the lookout as you hike steadily towards it. Spires reach skyward like wicked witch fingers. “As you near the saddle, the trail is easily lost in rocky slopes and lingering snowfields”, warns the National Park Service. They aren’t kidding. It’s easy to lose the trail here, so pay attention to the rock cairns leading the way. Reach a saddle and enter the National Park at 4.0mi, with commanding views over Hidden Lake.

Many hikers will be content turning around here for an 8.0mi roundtrip hike. For those who can’t resist, the saddle presents two additional options. You can scramble a steep 0.5mi down boulders to the lake, or scramble a steep 0.5mi up a rocky, narrow path to the lookout. Again, know your limits – safety is more important that getting the perfect ‘gram shot.

Return the way you came. You just knocked off one of the best hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest!

Insider Hints

  • Hikers can stay overnight in the lookout on a first come, first served basis.

  • A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park and can be obtained at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount.

  • Snow lingers into late summer along this trail. An ice axe, climbing skills, and route finding are needed to reach the lookout in early season.

Comments

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Charlie T 1 month ago

The Hidden Lake trail is amazing. It's a classic hike that has everything from amazing views, to bird watching opportunities, to changing landscapes. The overlook was unbelievable.

10.0 Overall Rating
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max 3 months ago

It is so beautiful and varied - first through the forest, then through meadows for a long way, then on boulders. The view from the top of the lake is superb. The 360-degree view from the overnight hut was fabulous. The drive to the trailhead needs 4wd. Fabulous trail and definitely should be more popular

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Wicked T 3 months ago

The Hidden Lake trail is surely a masterpiece of the North Cascades np.

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Cykelly 3 months ago

It was a great hike. The Hidden lake itself was magical. The ascent was strenuous but you just need to relax on top and the second part is easy.

9.0 Overall Rating
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5h 30m Time Taken
Burokai 3 months ago

Very pleasant hike. I love the ones with the rewarding ending ant Hidden Lake hike was definitely one of them. The views of the Cascades were to die for

10.0 Overall Rating
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5 Comments

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