Thunder Creek Trail in North Cascades National Park
Thunder Creek Trail in North Cascades National Park

Thunder Creek Trail hike

North Cascades National Park
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Peekaboo mountain views on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonCrossing the creek on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonGrouse near the trail on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonCrossing a bridge on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonColonial Peak on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonThunder Creek on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonTricounin Peak on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonView of washout near Horse Camp on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, WashingtonWashout near McAllister Horse Camp on the Thunder Creek Trail Hike in North Cascades National Park, Washington

Thunder Creek Trail hike

Distance: 12.4mi
Elevation: 1,401ft
Time: 4.5-6.5h

Difficulty Rating:

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9.1 Overall Rating
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Hiking along the Thunder Creek Trail can be as short or long as you want. The Thunder Creek Trail stretches over 30.0mi into the North Cascades backcountry, providing hikers with great daytrips and multi-day backpacks.

Thunder Creek Trail hike Map

Getting there

From Newhalem head east on Highway 20 for 9.5mi to Colonial Creek Campground. Turn right into the campground (milepost 130). Follow signs to the trailhead near the amphitheater.

I’ve done this 27 people have done this
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About

When to do

Spring - Fall

Backcountry Campsites

Yes

Toilets

Yes

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Thunder Creek Trail
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Thunder Creek Trail

The Thunder Creek Trail is a backpacker’s gateway to the North Cascades. Beginning from Colonial Creek Campground on the shores of Lake Diablo, the trail takes off south, paralleling Thunder Creek for 1.0mi. Hikers can spend days exploring the trail and its numerous offshoots. For a solid day hike, make McAllister Camp your destination.

From the signed trailhead, begin hiking along the forested Thunder Creek Trail. Diablo Lake’s Thunder Arm accompanies you along the way, eventually narrowing to form the trail’s namesake Thunder Creek. This first 1.0mi or so is relatively flat, rolling gently as it follows the creek. Big, old growth trees decorate the trail. At 1.4mi, cross the footbridge over Thunder Creek and arrive at the first backcountry site, Thunder Camp. Privy available.

The trail begins to steepen as you continue along, reaching a junction at 1.7mi. The trail to the left climbs approximately 2000ft in 2.5mi to Fourth of July Pass – an alternate destination with bigger views if you’re up for the challenge. Stay right for Thunder Creek Trail. Continuing along, you’ll pass Neve Camp in another 0.3mi. From here, Thunder Creek Trail climbs higher above Thunder Creek, offering peekaboo views of North Cascade peaks through the trees.

At 6.0mi reach the McAllister Horse Camp – not to be confused with McAllister Hiker Camp which is a little further along. The horse camp provides a good turnaround point, high above a big bend in the creek and a massive washout. Tricuoni Peak (8102ft) is clearly visible from here, along with numerous North Cascade mountains to the southwest and northwest. Return the way you came.

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

  • A free backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park. Stop at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount to obtain permits.

  • Camp at Colonial Creek Campground for easy access to the trail.

Comments

Papa smurph 2 years ago

Great trail! very easy and pretty

10.0 Overall Rating
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5h 25m Time Taken
maxjohanson 2 years ago

The color of the water and the mountains were amazing.

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5h 30m Time Taken
Abra Pepel 2 years ago

We has a pleasant daytrip! Looking forward to get a free backcountry permit next time to camp overnight.

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Sally S. Norbert 2 years ago

It’s easy with little elevation gain. Wonderful place!

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6h 00m Time Taken
Lambert O 2 years ago

First time camping in Washington. Amazing experience!

9.0 Overall Rating
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6h 00m Time Taken
Aleysha C. 2 years ago

what an awesome place! this was a great trail!

9.0 Overall Rating
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6h 00m Time Taken
Miranda Q. 2 years ago

It was a cool hike. There are enough signages. I also appreciate the well-maintained paths.

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Eli-Tim 2 years ago

A great backcountry experience! Thunder creek was majestic as well!

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Wicked T 3 years ago

Loved the hike. did not plan to do a longer hike that day. Will consider making it a backpack in the future. Thanks for the tip

9.0 Overall Rating
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7h 00m Time Taken
Cykelly 3 years ago

Thunder Creek was a nice day hike I've done. I expected a little more from it though. Moderate hike.

7.0 Overall Rating
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6h 00m Time Taken
10 Comments

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