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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    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.
    427 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    19.9 km
    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.
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Physical DIFF
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Technical DIFF
    Directions to Trailhead

    Thunder Creek Trail

    Thunder Creek Trail in North Cascades National Park

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    Table of contents

    Hiking along the Thunder Creek Trail can be as short or long as you want. The Thunder Creek Trail stretches over 48.3 km into the North Cascades backcountry, providing hikers with great daytrips and multi-day backpacks.

    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 1.6 km. 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 1.6 km or so is relatively flat, rolling gently as it follows the creek. Big, old growth trees decorate the trail. At 2.3 km, 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 2.7 km. The trail to the left climbs approximately 610 m in 4.0 km 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 0.4 km. From here, Thunder Creek Trail climbs higher above Thunder Creek, offering peekaboo views of North Cascade peaks through the trees.

    At 9.7 km 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 (2,469 m) 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 for Thunder Creek Trail

    • 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.

    Getting to the Thunder Creek Trail Trailhead

    From Newhalem head east on Highway 20 for 15.3 km to Colonial Creek Campground. Turn right into the campground (milepost 130). Follow signs to the trailhead near the amphitheater.

    Route Information

    • When to do:

      Spring - Fall

    • Backcountry Campsites:


    • Toilets:


    • Family friendly:


    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    Thunder Creek Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


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