Looking for a great trail in Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Washington? AllTrails has 24 great hiking trails, trail running trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 10 moderate trails in Ross Lake National Recreation Area ranging from 3.3 to 41.7 miles and from 1,122 to 2,919 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

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bird watching

dogs on leash

wild flowers

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walking

river

backpacking

kid friendly

running

camping

"The North Cascades are Calling!" Less than three hours from Seattle, an alpine landscape beckons. Discover communities of life adapted to moisture in the west and recurring fire in the east. Explore jagged peaks crowned by more than 300 glaciers. Listen to cascading waters in forested valleys. Witness a landscape sensitive to the Earth's changing climate. Help steward the ecological heart of the Cascades.

hiking
icy
rocky
2 months ago

I hike a lot of trails and I'm no wheenie but I will definitely agree with the "Hard" rating. The road to the trail head is bumpy and has pot holes. Go slow or take something more than a sedan. Trail started off flat for about 2.5 miles then progressively deepened. NOT for kids, beginners or whiners. Wear your big girl panties. It was steep for about 4 more miles to the top where the lookout to the lake is. View was definitely worth it and the pictures. Snow, icy rocks and mud. 8 miles is not correct. We logged 12.4. Challenging trail, we did not see bears but we definitely heard them

Some friends of mine and myself are planning a high mountain hunt next season. Is this area open for hunting?

Trail was awsome easy with 2dogs continued my trail along the dam and my fat ass was tired heading back up

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
2 months ago

Hiked Nov 11. Trail in good condition. We went to Trapper peak and not down to the lake. Patchy snow after the lake turn off. I used spikes but my boyfriend didn't. even if you don't go all the way to the peak, going part way up that trail gives some amazing view points. The view from the peak is spectacular! 360 panoramic views. There were no other hikers on the trail. The road to the trailhead is unpaved and pot-holey, but no high clearance needed, just go slow

hiking
2 months ago

For the season the pedestrian bridge is closed and you have to cross over the traffic bridge to get behind the power generating building, however it is worth a trip to get out and see the gardens. There were some fish in the river below when crossing the bridge.

hiking
2 months ago

Trail head was easy to find and park at however it is a long a busy highway so take care in hiding your stuff out of view. The first crossing of the river was not easy to find a way to get over since they had already pulled the bridge. For the season. I made my way across on the way up and found a better way on the back way back. The trail was great all the way to the top and was very nice adventure.

hiking
2 months ago

The trail is bone dry as of 10/28. Your welcome. Also, awesome views 360. Peekaboo snow capped mountains throughout the hike too. Great short hike! Easy end of “moderate” for sure.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike! The snow covered mountains are beautiful while crossing the dam.

I highly recommend taking the spur trail up to Trapper's Peak for the full "five star experience." This was a Plan B hike for me that day and became one of the biggest and best surprises I've ever had while outdoors. Three lakes and three elevations, each at a different stage of the summer thaw. WOW!

backpacking
scramble
snow
3 months ago

Amazing 360 views of the North Cascades from the summit. Trail is pretty much snow-free until the turn off to the peak. From there the snow gets much deeper quickly. But it was packed enough that we could just walk across the surface. And by now there’s a good boot-path up to the summit, at least until the next snowstorm. The path to the peak is pretty manageable. Some rather exposed sections though and a very short but steep slope just before the peak. Spectacular views along the upper part of the ridge and at the summit. At the very least bring spikes and trekking poles.

long hike but worth it. lots of snow at the top but it's snow free otherwise.

hiking
washed out
3 months ago

I would not recommend this trail at this time. It is basically a river. You’re welcome!!

hiking
3 months ago

We got off the trail and ended up on a road that ended at Buster Brown Campground. Beautiful day and nice hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Pretty but I wasn’t exactly blown away. Especially since the cascades usually have much better views. But overall, it yielded great Oyster mushrooms and Lions Beards for us to take home:)

hiking
3 months ago

Cause the rambles went snootchin

hiking
3 months ago

Relatively easy hike with some nice views of the lake.

hiking
3 months ago

Overall this is a new top two favorite hike for me. Road: I would say it’s suitable for most vehicles, unless you have a lowered or particularly lower vehicle you should have little issue with this. I cruised up in 1987 Chevy Nova. Some bumps for sure but if you take it slow it’s not a big deal. Trailhead to Thornton Lake Camping Area: The trail starts out very easy, I believe it was a decommissioned forest road. It’s very mild for 1 mile then you get to a nice bridge over Thornton Creek. The next 1.2 miles is slightly more incline than the first but still easy. Once you hit about 2.2 miles it starts to get real. You’ll ascend through a nice forest that is pretty lush green. It’s fairly steep but not overwhelming. You won’t really get much views at all until you’re towards the ridge/junction, occasional peek a boos. I didn’t see the bear that others have posted but I found some fresher scat on the route up trappers, id keep your head on a swivel. When you stay going towards the lakes you go up a tiny bit until you get to a great overlook lunch spot. You can see 2 of the lakes along with Trappers Peak, X Mountain and Mount Triumph. If I were to do this hike again I would stop there but I decided to drop the 400-500 feet to the lake camping area. It’s pretty steep with some slippery sections. It had a nice view down there but I probably wouldn’t use all that effort unless I had plans to overnight down there. Trail was muddy at times but I wouldn’t call it a muddy trail. Junction to Trappers: This route is pretty steep. Very easy to follow all the way to the summit. There are a few class three sections where your hands will have to be used but nothing crazy at all. No snow on this trail. The views at the top are unbelievable. The hike was nice but the views take this hike to a whole different level. Panoramic 360 unobstructed. Views of the Picket Range, Newhalem, can see a tiny bit of Diablo Lake, Snowfield Peak, Jack Mountain and the list could go on forever. There are so many peaks in view, tons of glaciers. This hike will show you why the North Cascades are nicknamed the American Alps. Make sure to go on a mostly sunny/clear day, it’ll make all the difference. I was up between Trappers and X for about 4 hours, I just didn’t want to leave. The best views you will get within a 2.5 hour drive of Seattle. The top of the picket range was in clouds most of the time but they kinda came out towards the end of my stay which I was really happy about. Trappers Peak to X Mountain: The hardest part here is the down climb to the ridge from Trappers. It’s class 3 for sure with a good drop if you slip. Unfortunately it had some snow from the past weekend, which made it a little dicey but still doable. Once you get to the ridge it’s such a stunning walk from there to the base of X. There is no real trail that I could follow, you could walk along the ridge if you aren’t scared of heights or walk on the south side down a little bit off of it. Easy terrain to walk on. The scramble up X is really just walking up and picking a way. I think there really was any scrambling. Maybe one easy move at the top. The ridge and X is snow free, just the descent down Trappers to the Ridge has a dusting, again it’s enough to make it a little extra difficult. I ended up going back up a different route than I went down. If you can get down it, it’s much easier coming back and up it. Small stream crossings, my regular water resistant hiking shoes did perfectly fine. Great beginner scramble, I brought a helmet just because, especially since I was solo. I’d probably recommend one but it’s really not necessary. This is now in my top two favorite hikes and the best viewpoint I have been to. The snow over the weekend made the North Cascades look so sick and since this peak is just low enough it didn’t pick up much but the other towering ones did. Do this hike now! Before the real snow comes! My Gaia totaled 13.3 miles and 4500 feet gain. I’m not in amazing shape but this pushed my physical abilities pretty good. Be ready for a long day but it’s incredibly worth it.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Went mid morning, it was beautiful! The creek to the trail head wasn’t bad, my dog enjoyed it there and back! The views at the end were amazing! I will be doing this trail again!

Easy loop hike along a rushing creek through beautiful forest. Mostly wooden boardwalks and very flat terrain.

Easy to follow route. Steepest part was the first section. We ran into one other small group of people but most the hike we were by ourselves. Super nice!

hiking
4 months ago

Salmon spawning at the bottom of the trail

The trail is steep with switchbacks.

hiking
4 months ago

Rock shelter at the end of trail

Continue the hike to Ross dam - worth it

One of my best hikes in years. Lovely trail. Exceptional forest with terrific variation. The lake is a delightful gift at the end of the hike.

hiking
4 months ago

DIABLO lake

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