Explore the most popular camping trails in Ross Lake National Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

wonderful trail

hiking
2 months ago

5/28/18. to the border and back, East Bank trail to Lightning Creek to Hozomeen lake trail: 70 miles round trip of serious hiking with a heavy pack. Some things to look out for: east bank trail has quite a few trees over it, but passable. the creek crossing at Roland campground you either have to go boots off and knee deep or look upstream and you will see a log going over 10' above the creek. be careful, this is just a log and not flattened; scootch across and don't run the risk. before the first footbridge east bank hugs the cliff face beware of a place where the trail has fallen off to a pylon log below. there are holes in the dirt between the log and where the trail used to be so use caution as you get across, the soil is very loose. from there it's smooth sailing through the foot bridges to lightning creek. lightning creek trail is deceivingly difficult. the climb is much longer and higher than what you would think with lots of dicey goat trail cliffside sections when you get near the top. the decent on the backside to deer lick cabin is smoother, but a fairly quick decent so be sure your shins and knees are ready for it. watch for the trail to cut to a bridge before you get to deer lick cabin. it's boarded up which kind of sucked because it would be a great place to rest after the wicked climb lightning creek trail tuned out to be. if you can push it get to nightmare camp, it looked cool even though I didn't stop. everything is smooth past the lakes, no time to stop in but I plan to one day. no rangers or border patrol up at Hozomeen campground, just a bunch of cool Canadians having a good time. stayed at international point campground for a day, which is a nice clean car/RV style grounds. tooled around the Skagit side then headed back all the way to the trailhead with a stop overnight at lodgepole on the lake. all in all it was an awesome trip. I would rate it as semi-difficult.

large parking lot at trail head. Black bear was blocking trail about 2 miles in, standing over whatever it was eating and squared up to our group of four. After a very brief staring contest, we backed off and returned to trail head. Best part of trail was that it's flat and shaded - good for covering ground on a hot or rainy day.

on Thunder Creek Trail

hiking
2 months ago

July 19, 2018: This is a nice walk but leaves you feeling like you should have gotten more bang for your buck. We did about six hours on the trail with an 11- and 13-year old, covering about 16-17 km round trip. Overall the trail is fairly flat, but I rolled my ankle a couple of times on rocks or roots—we were wearing running shoes. At the beginning the trail seems like it had a lot of potential as the river is near by, but after the 4th of July trail turn off, the trail stays under the canopy of trees and out of view of the river, although you can hear it. About 6-7 km in, there’s a couple views of the mountains overhead. The variety of plants is outstanding, but there was rarely a peep from birds. The little streams you cross along the way are nice and provide a great place to stop and enjoy a sandwich. My wife thinks we should have taken 4th of July as the park trail pamphlet suggests that it is the trail with the views.

Nice wooded walk. But not a whole lot to see. We were going to go up 4th of July but visibility was poor so we did this instead

Great trail with amazing views. Had two bear sightings in the first 10 miles. There are a number of downed trees currently obstructing the trail. There are also a number of Creek crossings, some of which are a little more iffy than others nothing was impassable or too bad as long as you're careful though. Elevation gain is easy, I'm guessing the rating is just because of how long the trail is.

backpacking
3 months ago

Just backpacked to Thunder Camp and day Hiked to Fourth of July Camp via Fourth of July Pass and McAllister Camp via Thunder Creek. We’re some bears in the area but trails are well kept

Wonderful valley pass hike through refreshing forest along powerful rivers. A few beautiful mountain viewpoints, the best being at Fourth of July Pass, and plenty of strenuous up down up down hiking along Panther Creek. The trail is maintained by boots from other hikers, so it can be a bit tricky to follow at times, but if you have a good eye for following trails you will be fine. The most difficult part of the trail to follow was near the waterfall after Fourth of July Pass where there is a bit of a scramble. I marked the trail with a cairn where the vegetation ends and the rocky river scramble begins, but just make note of where the trail ends/begins when you enter that area. There were some mosquito, but I didn't need any insect repellent and only got a few bites. Most of the hike is in forest along powerful rivers, but there are some parts more exposed to the sun, especially on the ascent to the Fourth of July Pass from Thunder Creek. There are individual campsites scattered along this trail. The beginning of the trail is popular with day hikers, but that ends around Fourth of July Pass and then it's just you and the forest river valley.

backpacking
3 months ago

Only negative about our 4 night, 5 day adventure was people. Very crowded 2 night stay at lightning creek complete with uptight powertripping stay at home moms who thought they were entitled to the best spots. Had a magical final evening at Hozomeen lake all by ourselves. Reserved a 200 dollar water taxi to take us back within 5 mi of hwy 20 where we were parked. I highly recommend this as a first time backpacking trip.

Backpacked to 4th of July Pass via Thunder Creek trail. Very clean and scenic trail.

backpacking
4 months ago

Backpacked out to Roland Creek campground (about 7 miles in) and back, pretty unimpressive to be honest. It starts out pretty nice, but fades to generic green tunnel with no vantages, distinctive features, or anything of note really for the majority of the hike, although Roland Creek itself at the end is nice.

That said, it looks like the trail might get a bit better if you go a bit farther than I did.

backpacking
4 months ago

Backpacked to Rainbow Point. Goes through a lot of forest but it’s worth it

backpacking
4 months ago

I backpacked to Junction it was great

backpacking
5 months ago

Great early season trail. Lots of down trees but nothing too gnarly. Don’t blow your ACL

Made the mistake of starting this trail during the hottest part of the day in July. This hike is no joke! We had to turn around half a mile from the summit as we didn’t Bring enough water and one member of our group was getting very ill. One member of our group did make it to the top and said the views of the sun setting into the mountains that stretched far into Canada were absolutely stunning.

hiking
10 months ago

great easy hike and you can pick your distance. I was sick and recovering from an ear infection (drove into concrete for medical) and didn't have the energy to do much. just a few miles out n back in tennis shoes...very easy and pretty. apparently someone started a forest fire at one of the camps so it was closed earlier in the week. anyone can do this walk.

backpacking
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We hiked this trail over the Labor Day weekend. Trail was in great condition. The elevation gain to our final campsite was tough on the knees. We camped in a clearing with beautiful mountain views with cascading waterfalls. 10.3 miles to our campsite.

backpacking
Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hiked this trail with my 11 and 13 year old daughters starting at the Colonial Creek Campground. Find the entrance and parking near the amphitheater of that campground. It is well marked with bathrooms near the parking. The trail has small elevation gains and we hiked to McAllister Campground. It is about a 6-7 mile hike with overall elevation gain, but really much more up and down terrain. There are a few wood bridges and small fording of streams through the hike. The terrain is beautiful with most of the hike through forested areas which move parallel to the creek, but you can't see the creek the majority of the trail. Once you reach McAllister campground, it is really beautiful with a bridge that inexplicably has only one guardrail! A little scary for the girls if there is traffic on the bridge over the fast moving Thunder Creek, but really beautiful campgrounds there. The campgrounds are far apart so there is ample privacy. Flies were the main bugs there more so than mosquitoes. Others mentioned they saw signs of bears, but we didn't. Pit toilets are present at various sites at the campground. Overall a really nice trail and campsite!

backpacking
Monday, June 19, 2017

Well maintained trails with some cool wooden bridges. Mild up and down elevation changes the first 6 miles. (Only recorded part of the hike) We camped at a campsite near the river - had a fire pit with a steel cooking surface, which certainly saved us because our propane cooker failed. Plenty of fallen firewood to be gathered. A few mosquitos evening and mornings, not a problem but suggest you bring long pants and something with long sleeves to wear in the evenings. Our dog loved it too!

hiking
Monday, June 05, 2017

Such an awesome hike!! Hiked 6 miles in 6 miles back on a beautiful day and took a little over 5 1/2 hours. Completely worth the day!! The path is very narrow at points so if you bring a pet be sure to make space for others that may be on the path too. All-in-all great hike :) will totally do it again!

backpacking
Monday, June 05, 2017

Multi-night backpack
Trail in good condition
Road suitable for all vehicles
Bugs were not too bad
Snow free

5/25: Hiked into Neve Campground with 7 year old. Had an outdoor latrine, easy stream access, plenty of dry firewood. Just before arriving to neve campground there is a stream across the trail, about 10ft wide ankle deep.

5/26: Left gear at Neve and hiked up 2,000 feet (2.5 miles) to fourth of July Campground for the day. Took almost 4 hours due to the 7yr old. Less than 2 hours coming down. patches of snow were on ground just past the campground. Campground had a latrine and fresh water stream.

5/27: Hiked out. 

Excellent choice for young children, great mountain views, and abundant resources

backpacking
Monday, May 08, 2017

The trail was a really nice one! This is a great hike earlier in the year (less snow) or later on in summer as hikers choose more aggressive terrain. The first portion is a gentle incline, nothing serious. Trail is very navigable but there are trees down from time to time. Camped at Neve this time around and had a lot of privacy. There were downed trees everywhere but that just made an extra challenge!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quite a trail! After crossing the bridge, the trail goes on and on through the moss covered forest with ocasional glimpses of the incredible Cascades. Once you get up into Thunder Basin itself, the scenery is astounding. Mounts Logan and Buckner dominate the basin on the south and glaciers descend into the valley on the west side.

Be aware that you need a permit (free) to camp. There are a number of designated areas to camp along the trail. And in the morning, the trail is crowded with wet bushes and plants. Your pants and shoes will be soaked.

backpacking
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

We hiked in and camped at Mcallister, approx 6.5 ish miles in! There's some incline, but fairly easy terrain, I would rate moderate mostly because of the distance and some of the log crossings. It was a beautiful home, thunder creek lives up to its name!

hiking
Monday, May 02, 2016

Good trail, roughly 6 miles in there were too many trees down on the trail for me to attempt to navigate. Turned back and camped at Neve camp after that.

camping
Saturday, May 23, 2015

I wouldn't rate this trail as difficult at all, moderate at the most. It's stunningly beautiful forest but you'll have to go to Junction Camp to get the views of the mountains. It's well worth the trip!

hiking
Monday, July 14, 2014

Pretty cool trail. The first mile or so is all uphill and a lot of pretty steep grade, but the forest around is beautify and calm. The trail levels out and comes around the side of the mountain and begins to descend that side. It begins to switchback steeply again towards the creek. The "creek" seemed more like a rushing river to me. Gorgeously clear blue, it is loud and powerful. There are some spots here by the river where the trail was quite a bit overgrown. It is a neat walk by the creek though.

hiking
Thursday, July 03, 2014

Loved this trail. Hiked 10 miles to junction camp and was rewarded with amazing views of the glaciers. Next morning hike 5 miles to Cosho camp (down fisher creek trail) mile from junction camp seen a black bear walking towards me on the trail. A couple "hey bears "had it going away from me. This camp was on the creek not as nice as junction but still a great spot. The next morning made the 15 mile hike back to the trail head. No bears.
The trail was clear all the way to junction, with bridges over any creek that was more than ankle deep. After junto on the trail is not as well maintained. At around 2 miles there is a large creek to cross and the bridge has been washed out for a couple years now. There is a log jam down stream that makes crossing possible. I left colonial camp ground about 5PM on Friday June 27 and after 5 miles did not see another person until Sunday after Mcallister camp. Very secluded for such a great trail.

hiking
Saturday, April 19, 2014

You can arrange to have a water taxi pick you up at the north end of the trail and take you back near the trail head if you don't want to do the roundtrip. My wife and I hiked 32 miles out over 3 days then used the taxi for a quick return. Very isolated. Beautiful views with flat terrain.

hiking
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This is rated difficult only because of the length I'm sure. It's a very flat hike. One section is carved right out of the side of the cliff and is right over the lake--just beautiful. I wanted to do Desolation Peak as well, but got rained out. For the story and pics go to http://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2013/06/east-bank-trail-ross-lake-part-one.html

Load More