Hidden Lake Lookout Trail is a 7.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Diablo, Washington that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,369 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

snowshoeing

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

muddy

over grown

rocky

scramble

snow

Simply spectacular! One of the finest hikes on the face of the planet, the trail to Hidden Lake Peaks grants continuous sensory overload. Sprawling meadows bursting with wildflowers, granite slabs and boulders laced with heather, glistening snowfields birthing tumbling waters, alpine nooks providing After starting in a clear-cut predating common sense, the trail soon enters unmolested forest where it begins to climb steeply. At about 1 mile leave the forested canopy be-hind for an avalanche chute filled with alder. Cross East Fork Sibley Creek and recommence climbing. While you're traversing the steep side slope that's often brushy and overgrown, showy flowers give some consolation as you slog. Biting flies, however, may diminish the blossom bonus. At 2.5 miles the trail recrosses the creek (elev. 5200 ft) and begins angling south. Stop to admire Mount Baker hovering in the western sky. Now across heather slopes punctuated with shiny granite slabs funneling cascading snowmelt, enjoy increasing views and an alpine wonderland intensifying in beauty. At 3 miles a potential hazard may exist. Early season, or some years all summer, a treacherously steep snow gully may be present. Extremely dangerous to cross without ice ax and appropriate skills, it may be necessary to call it quits, taking solace in prudence and a decent hike even to this point. If the coast is clear, proceed, enjoying heather meadows, glacier lily fields, snowfields dyed red (thanks to an algae), unhindered Cascade mountain views west and south, and territorial views of Hidden Lake Peaks to the east. At 4.2 miles attain a 6600-foot saddle (and the North Cascades National Park boundary) between the 7088-foot true summit of Hidden Lake Peaks (to the left and a fairly easy scramble) and the 6890-foot knoll with the lookout (to the right). Hidden Lake is just below, a glorious backcountry body of water, its azure waters shimmering in the sun. It's a rough-and-tumble drop of 800 feet through talus to reach it. Instead, enjoy its beauty from above and the framing backdrop of impressive North Cascades summits- Eldorado, Forbidden, and Boston among them. To reach the lookout, follow the trail right for 0.3 mile, climbing 300 feet over ledge and rock and possibly snow (use caution). Wow! Drink in views from Rainier to Baker and every peak, valley, and ridge between. Take time to appreciate the lookout too. Built in 1931, it was restored by Fred T. Darvill of the Skagit Alpine Club back in 1961. A tireless advocate for the North Cascades National Park, Darvill, who passed away in 2007.

27 days ago

Amazing!!!! Spectacular views of the huge craggy mountain peaks, glaciers and Hidden Lake. Meadow has really pretty fall foliage coloring right now. We hiked yesterday, Oct 18th, and temps were perfect. Barely any snow - did not need crampons. Trail started getting muddy in the afternoon. Hiked at a moderate pace and took us 5.5 hrs (with 1.25 hrs spent sitting at the summit overlooking the lake).

Drive to/from trailhead off of Cascade River Rd is as bad as the other reviews say. Guessing it took us 45 min to get up & 30 min on way down. Gets dark early these days! Bring a headlamp if you're starting late!

30 days ago

Amazing views. Went there on the perfect weekend. Snow had accumulated in the morning. Not much. We started the hike at 12.30pm. Snow had pretty much melted. Took us, amateurs, 3.5 hours to reach the lookout. Elevation was definitely felt. Beautiful fall red colors. Hike would definitely need more expertise when snow starts accumulating.

1 month ago

My husband, dog and I hiked this yesterday (10/14). The weather conditions were perfect at a cool 45°, not a cloud in the sky, and no wind; all of which I find pretty amazing for the middle of October in the Cascades.

We started at 12:05, reached the lookout at 3:00, started descending at 3:30, and reached the vehicle by 6:10.

I loved the different layers of this hike; dense forest, uncovered meadows blanketing the slopes, boulder fields dotting the top, and a challenging scramble to reach your destination.

There were a few pockets of snow and on our descent, the top half of the trail was a muddy mess, otherwise it was very manageable. The few morning hikers we met mentioned seeing a mama bear and her cub in the meadow above the trail but we didn't see them. Also for any fur parents, my 40 lbs. lab mix did not fair well with rock scrambling to the lookout and down.

All in all, I really enjoyed it. The worst part was the brutal 4 mile road to the trail head.

1 month ago

What an amazing hike, one of my favorite’s so far in Washington! It’s a calf/quad/booty burner and there’s a considerable scramble to the lookout, but it’s so worth it. The views from the lookout are breathtaking! The only thing I’d say is that the road to the trailhead is rough, covered in potholes. Get there early as the parking lot is small and the road to the trailhead isn’t wide, so it’s tough to park on the road before the trail. A must-do hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome views! Had a great time in the lookout

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked on Saturday 10/6. About half way up there was snow on the ground. Microspikes were helpful since there was some ice as well. It was a clear day so the view was absolutely breathtaking. If you want to hike this, make sure you do it very soon before the trail gets too snowy! Definitely best to do this on a sunny and clear day. The trail is pretty much up hill the whole way but it isn’t horrible since it’s a shorter trail. Minor scramble at the top. My dogs are normally pretty good scrambling on boulders but this one made them very nervous, especially with the snow.

1 month ago

Beautiful

hiking
1 month ago

What an amazing hike! A lot of up to start, but worth making it to the top. Amazing fall colors, saw a black bear, scenery is stunning all the way up, and had great views of both Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak! The road would be a little tough for anyone not in a high clearance vehicle. Overall though, just stunning.

hiking
1 month ago

I wish there were words to explain this hike but there ain’t. North Cascades has always been my favorite place in Washington State but the view from the lookout at the end of this hike - breath taking doesn’t begin to describe it. Not even close.

hiking
2 months ago

on a clear day this hike is spectacular, unfortunately i didn’t have that privilege. nonetheless, the lake was serene at the top and it felt like a worthy day. not a single soul on the way up, nobody at the top, only 3 people on the way down that were heading up. moderate elevation gain. you’ll spend some time out there!

hiking
2 months ago

I came back nearly a month later and was able to summit. My last trip I fell short just at the lookout. This time I made the entire trip. There wasn't any snow fields to cross which turned out to be an absolute better alternative to hop boulders. Once you're through the boulder field, you'll hook around the mountain in which the Lookout is on top of and you'll instantly be mortified of how much more you have to traverse to make it up. Never fear, the last climb goes fast and it's not as hard as it looks. Good luck!

2 months ago

Just perfect. Beautiful views most of the way along the trail. The views from the lake and lookout are one of a kind-you can see most of the Cascades from Rainier to Baker. Perfectly ripe berries all along the way were the icing on the cake. It is certainly a lot of work though-the way down seems especially steep on the legs.

2 months ago

AMAZING!!!!!!!

hiking
2 months ago

I will give this hike a 5-star rating because it was well worth the struggle to the top. I didn't make it to the lookout, though. I fell short just after the last snow field. I became ill with heat exhaustion and I had to turn back. My legs were cramping up so bad I could barely stand. I apparently did not bring enough water. I was soaked in sweat. The trail is easily defined but you'll need to pay attention through the middle part because you can easily lose sight of it. The views are incredible. I am returning to summit this one next week.

2 months ago

Been to many national parks. Glacier, yosemite, grand Teton.... This is up there with the best

2 months ago

Hiked up to the lookout today 8/13/18. Started at 7:30am and was the first one at the empty lookout. Unfortunately it is entirely socked in with smoke at the moment, making the views extremely limited at the top. The hike itself was pretty strenuous but beautiful. Wildflowers galore! The road up to the trail is in pretty bad shape. Definitely recommend a high clearance vehicle and some good tires. (My outback did fairly well)

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike with wonderful views of the lake at the end! Scenery changes often with forest at the beginning, followed by meadows that transition into alpine vegetation and finally the overlook of the beautiful lake at the end. We found camping spots on the ridge just before getting to the National Park, but you could also camp about a 1/4 mile before the ridge and find many spots. Very difficult to actually get down to the lake. Road takes a while on the drive in/out so plan accordingly.

3 months ago

Spectacular!!!! There was smoke from the fires but none the less excellent hiking... 8/9/18

hiking
3 months ago

Fantastic hike with challenging elevation, well worth with 360 view at the top

hiking
3 months ago

8/5/18
Excellent hike through a variety of settings (woods, wildflowers, and easy rock scrambling). This is definitely at least a 4-star hike but it’s a little overgrown in the wildflower/weed patch in the middle and the parking situation is very tight (avoidable if you come really early or late in the day). With all that said, this is a fantastic hike and the fire lookout is a neat destination. If you camp you’ll likely be sharing it with a handful of people but enjoy the camaraderie and make friends with fellow enthusiasts (or pitch a tent nearby). Unfortunately the smoke limited the views today but it’s perched on an amazing vantage point.

hiking
3 months ago

Very good hike with enough elevation gain to be challenging but still manageable. The view from the lookout afforded pretty amazing views in all directions. The one drawback today was the available views were a bit diminished in clarity by haze from forest fires. Bugs were annoying but not dreadful on the lower reaches of the trail.

3 months ago

If anyone sees an Orange REI rainfly laying around on the road somewhere please contact me at cranswic@hawaii.edu... lost on July 24th

The hike was GREAT! Totally gets your blood pumping and then the views take your breath away!

3 months ago

My favorite hike in WA! Bring bug spray and get there a little early to get a good parking spot.

3 months ago

Awesome trail! It is rated correct as hard. It’s no so much the length of the trail as much as it’s the up and up and up some more. There plenty of water on the trail and snow. I found it was easier to cross the 4 snow packs with my crampons as my knee was not liking the unstable surface. Views were AMAZING! Lots of wild flowers and water falls. You will not be alone I. This trail for long. It is very busy but not over crowded. Parking is a problem if your not there by 8 a.m. at the latest. In the way down cars were parked for a half mile making the already super narrow road worse. Enjoy the hike, take pics

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome trail! The views from the lookout are breathtaking. Just make sure to get to the TH before 0800. Parking is very limited. We luckily squeezed into a spot, but by the time we left, cars were lined up along the side of the road (extremely close to a steep ledge as well) for at least half a mile. Besides the parking, it is a great, diverse hike! Would love to go back and be the lucky one to snag the lookout for the night.

3 months ago

July 14, 2018: Amazing hike!
Road to trailhead is rough leave your Bentley at home.
Most of the trail is straight forward. Snowy parts higher up are easily navigable without fancy gear. The summit is kind of awkward since it's all boulders. The climb between the snow field and the summit is interesting, it's steep and the trail is faint in various parts and can be difficult to find, but it's doable for the average hiker. The scramble at the summit isn't that bad.

3 months ago

you dont need high clearance/4wd when the road is dry, but it definitely takes some slow speeds and maneuvering. it's also pretty steep and there's only room for one car most of the time.

as for the trail, it was gorgeous! lots of wild flowers waterfalls, 360 views once you get a couple miles on. there are a lot of water crossings and at some points the trail was more of a creek bed so I definitely recommend waterproof shoes.

3 months ago

This hike is really hard. As someone that lives in Ohio where we don’t have much elevation gain. This hike kicked my butt but it was so beautiful. I had trekking poles to help through the snow but my bf didn’t. We both did fine.

3 months ago

Awesome hike. Downloading the gps was helpful over some of the snow patches as none of us in the group had done this one before. Seemed like most of the snow would melt soon. Trekking poles would have been helpful but managed without.

hiking
4 months ago

Rocky bumpy road to the trail head recommend a high clearance vehicle but not needed if you want to risk it. Starts with a nice wooded area and the switchbacks continue through the meadows with nice flowers until you hit snow. Even though it can be done without spikes it will be nice to have them and my trekking poles proved vital in the snow. Once near the lookout prepare to climb over big boulders leading to the lookout. Once at the lookout you will have some tiny visitors looking for a snack. Totally worth the trip for an amazing unforgettable view. As of yesterday July 4th the lake was quite frozen with some snow.

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