Ladder Creek Falls hike in North Cascades National Park
Ladder Creek Falls hike in North Cascades National Park

Ladder Creek Falls hike

North Cascades National Park
View Photos
Gorge Powerhouse on the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonTrail to the falls on the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonFlowers at Gorge Powerhouse on the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonEntering the forest on the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonEvening light show on the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonThe falls of the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonLights on the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonThe falls close up on the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonThe beautiful views of the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonStairs along the Ladder Creek Falls trail in the North Cascades National Park, WashingtonThe bridge on the Ladder Creek Falls Hike in the North Cascades National Park, Washington

Ladder Creek Falls hike

Distance: 0.5mi
Elevation: 200ft
Time: 0.5h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.4 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

Hiking to ladder Creek Falls is a great family-friendly hike for those in Newhalem. Take a short hike over the Skagit River and through the woods to Ladder Creek Falls. In the evenings, a colored light show provides entertainment from dusk till midnight year-round.

Ladder Creek Falls hike Map

Getting there

Exit Highway 20 at the town of Newhalem (milepost 120). Follow Main Street past the General Store and restrooms, then turn left onto the one-way road. Continue 0.3mi to the Ladder Creek Falls trailhead at the east end of town. Parking is available in a gravel lot next to the river.

I’ve done this 44 people have done this
I want to do this 40 want to do this route

About

When to do

Year Round

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Yes

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Circuit


Ladder Creek Falls
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Ladder Creek Falls

Take it easy with this family-friendly hike to Ladder Creek Falls. The trail begins beside the Skagit River, where interpretive signs explain the history of the Gorge Powerhouse in front of you. The powerhouse was constructed in the early 1920’s to produce electricity for homes in Seattle as part of the Skagit Hydroelectric project.

The Seattle City Light company town of Newhalem was born from this project – employees needed a place to live while they worked in the remote North Cascades. Superintendent and “Father of Seattle City Light” James D. Ross (after which nearby Ross Lake is named) originally built the trail to Ladder Creek Falls to showcase the area to visitors.

Begin by walking across the passenger suspension bridge to your right (south). Originally built in 1920 to provide access to the powerhouse construction site, the bridge has since been rebuilt twice. Across the bridge, enter the Ladder Creek Falls Garden next to the powerhouse. This area was hot in the 1930’s – literally. JD Ross heated the grounds to grow tropical trees and orchids, while playing music and lighting up the gardens to showcase the power of electricity.

Continue along the trail to enter the forest. Dusk is a particularly interesting time to visit – just as the light show is about to begin. Colored lights illuminate the creek and falls till midnight. Today’s lightshow – restored in 2011 – lacks music and tropical plants, but uses energy efficient 1,000 watt spotlights to light up the night.

The falls themselves drop a total of 108ft over three tiers. Visibility is partly obstructed, and you can’t get very close to the falls, but it’s worth the short walk to see the show. Turn your hike into a loop by following the path around the backside of the powerhouse. You’ll pop out of the forest onto a powerhouse service road. Continue around the side of the powerhouse to cross the 1935-built service vehicle bridge, and return to the trailhead.

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

Insider Hints

  • To catch the evening light show, camp at nearby Newhalem Creek Campground. The Trail of the Cedars connects the campground to the town of Newhalem.

  • Ranger-guided walks are offered during summer weekends at Ladder Creek Falls.

  • Stop by the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center in Newhalem for information about the park and its many hiking trails.

Comments

Papa smurph 2 years ago

The falls were really pretty, and the entire trail has lots of beautiful trees and bridges.A must do!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
0h 30m Time Taken
T Rob 2 years ago

The history of this place is incredible. Loved walking through the garden area and seeing the falls

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Sally S. Norbert 2 years ago

The falls are beautiful. Stunning rock formations!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
0h 30m Time Taken
Abra Pepel 2 years ago

This hike is breathtaking! The Skagit Hydroelectric project was fascinating!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Lambert O 2 years ago

Super easy but great views Literally so amazing.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
0h 30m Time Taken
Aleysha C. 2 years ago

We really enjoyed this! Beautiful waterfall & site just past the little town that you pass.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
0h 30m Time Taken
masonH. 2 years ago

It is a unique natural wonder! Such a wonderful creation.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Tom Pack. 2 years ago

Easy hike. The falls were awesome

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Miranda Q. 2 years ago

I was able to watch the evening light show, and it was fantastic!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Aska Tanaka 2 years ago

The creek is not that wide, but very pretty. We had stunning views and saw the pinkish rocks. Don’t miss it!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
19 Comments Show all

Similar hikes to the Ladder Creek Falls hike

Trail of the Cedars Hike Map

Trail of the Cedars Hike

Difficulty:
1.7mi
72ft
0.5-1h

The Trail of the Cedars is a 1.7mi easy hike in North Cascades National Park. This hike is…

Gorge Creek Falls Trail Map

Gorge Creek Falls Trail

Difficulty:
0.5mi
39ft
0.5h

The Gorge Creek Falls Trail is a quick, easy loop trail with a waterfall view. It’s only 0.8km long with…

Skagit River Loop Trail

Skagit River Loop Trail

Difficulty:
1.9mi
95ft
0.5-1h

The Skagit River Loop Trail is an easy hike in North Cascades National Park. This hike is suitable for all…