Hidden Lake Lookout Trail

HARD 190 reviews
#1 of 85 trails in

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.

hiking
18 days 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!

19 days 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.

23 days ago

AMAZING!!!!!!!

hiking
25 days 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.

29 days ago

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

1 month 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
1 month 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.

1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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.

1 month 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!

1 month ago

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

1 month 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
2 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.

2 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.

2 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.

2 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.

2 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
2 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.

hiking
2 months ago

My wife and I took our twin daughters in Kelly Kids carriers as far as we could go without snow spikes and axes as well as factoring in overall safety. Had to turn around at about 5800' elevation when it got too step and slick for us. Until that point the views were incredible. Wish we could have had a bit less snow so we could have seen Hidden Lake.

hiking
2 months ago

*** Hey Tray Edwards- the author of the WTA report from 6/24/18 might have your micros...

hiking
3 months ago

I drove up late Saturday night to catch the sunrise at the peak. The unimproved road leading to the trailhead is a little washed out and may be an issue for low clearance cars. Although I did see a Prius parked up there. I started the hike around 230am and didn’t have any issues with staying on the trail under darkness, it’s pretty established and no snow until about 2 miles up. You’ll cross a few creeks along the way but nothing too drastic. Once I hit the snow I put on my micro spikes ad had my ice axe available due to the incline of the trail & hard snow. I found it difficult to follow the trail (others tracks) and veered off course a few times and ended up cutting up to the peak earlier than I should have but it was a great view when the sun started coming up. I made it to the center lookout point by 0500ish and watched the sunrise. There were a few campers still in their tents there. The lake is still iced over but it was still a perfect view. After hiking around to the lookouts I began my decent around 0600. The snow was already starting to loosen up and I ended up losing a micro spike along the way. On the way down I was able to enjoy the views I missed coming up in the dark, with beautiful wildflowers and waterfalls. It was a great hike & id love to stay at the lookout overnight next time. Definitely don’t underestimate this hikes difficulty, especially in the dark.

4 months ago

Great hike! Still a lot of snow. Can almost park at the trail head as of 5/12/18

hiking
6 months ago

This must be one of my favorite, if not "the" favorite hike - it has really just about everything: an adventurous drive to the trail-head (more on that later), a forest to start your hike in, a lush mountain meadow, plenty of snow-fields (mid July) all the way to a rock-scrambling part to the lookout at the end. And the views, oh my, the views. Going up, they are beautiful already but once you make it to the ridge that will get you to the lookout, you're in for a real treat. I just wish we had known that it was possible to stay overnight in the lookout - sunset and sunrise must be absolutely stunning from there.
The hike itself is not easy and the last part would be tough for people with vertigo but otherwise we didn't think it was too difficult. It's easily manageable in an afternoon even if you take plenty of time to soak in the views at the top. We saw a bear and a pica rabbit too.
Oh, and I almost forgot, the drive. I saw cars parked at the trail-head that had pretty low clearance, so it must be possible to get there in just about anything but I was really happy that we took a rental 4WD SUV. The forest road is quite steep in places and littered with potholes large enough to break your axle in, so having a higher clearance vehicle comes in handy.
Overall, if there is just one hike you are going to do in this part of the park, make it this one!

hiking
8 months ago

Incredible. Most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on in the US so far.

hiking
9 months ago

Hidden lake lookout. Attempt number 3. Success.
It was king of challenge for me, I tried to get to the lookout two times before (May and November), two times in snow, two fails.
The initial plan for today was relax and enjoy snowshoe around Artis Point, but yesterday evening when I was checking reports I found on alltrails.com that somebody put 5 stars for Hidden Lake trail 5 days ago, it was enough for me to change my plans and try Hidden Lake again. Despite great weather I was not sure if I can make it, I still remember how much snow and avalanches was in May, but I decided give it a shot.

Came to trail around 10:30, actually I didn't get to trailhead even on AWD and parked mile or so before TH, 6 or 7 cars already were there. I reached TH in 40 mins and tired, it was difficult to go by snow, decided put on snowshoe after forest part. Forest part was easier, since less snow there, you can do in hiking boots, but gaiters recommended. Met two people going back, they done forest part of the trail and turned back.

Once I reached basin area I starded to follow by ski track, it was not easy, but doable in snowshoe which is a must at this part. I folowed ski track by right side from the stream, when actuall trail goes by left side. There are few avalances already came down, snow looks stable and solid, but anyway pay attention. Clibmed up to second avalanch, which came from the top and turned left to actual trail. Then did couple switchbacks and crossed this avalanch again toward to travers part of the trail. Despite hard and stable snow it was little bit scary to walk by avalnches, but I decided to go, maybe not too smart.

Travers part was very nice and much easier! View was gorgeous, clear views of peaks around, mt Baker, sun, snowshoe. Btw there are some steep slopes on this part as well, I even used iceaxe to go throug it, but as I said I followed by ski track, maybe it possible to find less steep route.

Once I reached end of the travers part I saw many snowshoe footprints at this point I realized that it should be some winter route. Definitely! I've seen many cars but met only two people, and ski track I followed by was few days long.

From this point there are few snowshoe trackы - first is regular trail, second goes to hidden lake peaks. I climbed up by second one, but at this point I did't know that it goes to the peaks, i realized it lated once I got closer. I didn't get to the peak, because it was already 2:30 pm and I had not so much time. I turned right towards to the lookuout, getting closer I've seen some people doing travers by peak to the lookout. In some report guys called this part "do it or die", kind of true :)

So, I reached lake viewpoint, then I took one of the snowshoe track up, travers part to the lookout is very steep, if you will go there you need to be very careful. I put of basket from my right pole and used it as iceaxe, before doing next step I put it deep in snow.

Finally I reached lookout, there were five people and two dogs, they came for overnight. They told me about winter route, it is shorter and much steeper. But! it much safer from avalanch standpoint since it goes through forest and there less snow now. So, if you go tomorrow or before next snowfall you can go by regular route, after snowfal basin area will be risky, but you can try winter route. But as I said it is very very steep espesially at the beginning (from road to lookout)

I took some food and photos and went down by regular route. Yeah, views were just awesome!

On my way back I met three people going up, they came by regular route as me. So, I tool winter route back, first half was easy, since I went down, moderate level of snow, good snowshoe track. Second part was more tough, slopes were much steeper, lots of fallen trees, I lost track little bit, because snow disappeared and I just followed direction to the road. Finally I reache the road, walked down to my car and went home.

Finally I can cross Hidden Lake Lookout trail in my list as completed.

hiking
10 months ago

Lots of snow up there. I got to the lake viewpoint but not to the lookout, since I was first on the trail and spent lots of time for trail finding and overall visibility was awful. Poles, gaiters is a must. Snowshoe, spikes might be helpful. Find my report on wta

10 months ago

Northern Cascades at its finest.

11 months ago

Amazing hike! Absolutely beautiful views; definite bucket list worthy. Just be very careful on your way down as there’s no clear trail markings.

11 months ago

My favorite hike in the lower 48!

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