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    Ladder Creek Falls

    Difficulty
    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    Very Easy
    Duration
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    0.5h
    Distance
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    0.8 km
    Elevation
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    61 m
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Overall Rating
    This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
    9.6
    Physical Difficulty
    This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Technical Difficulty
    This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Read Reviews
    Directions to Trailhead
    Ladder Creek Falls hike in North Cascades National Park

    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.

    View Ladder Creek Falls on Map

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    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 33 m 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 for Ladder Creek Falls

    • 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.

    Getting to the Ladder Creek Falls Trailhead

    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 0.4 km to the Ladder Creek Falls trailhead at the east end of town. Parking is available in a gravel lot next to the river.

    Route Information

    • 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

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather

    Ladder Creek Falls Reviews

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