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Thornton Lakes Trail is a 8.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Marblemount, Washington that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and backpacking and is best used from May until October.

Distance: 8.3 miles Elevation Gain: 3,100 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

running

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

Note: Users have reported that there are downed trees blocking the path, adding extra mileage to the route. Directions from Marblemount: Drive east on Highway 20 11 miles to dirt road on the left signed as Thornton Creek Road. Turn northward and drive 5 miles to the trailhead. Thornton Creek Road is not recommended for trailers or RVs. It isn't graded regularly and is very steep.

hiking
5 days ago

Hiked 6/28/20 until we had to turn around due to snow

hiking
bugs
scramble
snow
6 days ago

Snow covered made it to the lake but frozen. No trail going down made our own. Would not have made it without GPS. Ended up hiking 10 miles

hiking
snow
6 days ago

Still a little too early. Snow starts at about 3.5 miles in and gets worse as you go forward. I turned around at 4.5 miles after losing the trails many times. First 3.5 miles in great shape and easy going. Ice axe nor trekking poles would make any difference for staying on trail. If you just want to ignore the trail and make for the ridge, trekking poles definitely advised. Snow is packed tight, but getting thin in places, I’d advise sticking to the trail. Maybe give this trail another 2 weeks at least.

hiking
8 days ago

snow. fun. tall

snow
14 days ago

I tried hiking this 6/18/20 and it was still very much covered in snow for the last portion of the trail. Made it up almost to the lake and then decided to turn around because my gps was about to die. Still some pretty views of the mountains. Be careful of running water under the snow and bring bug spray!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
17 days ago

The first 1.5 miles is relatively flat and casual stroll. There is a couple water crossings. Then you begin a climb to the lake, pretty wet and slick throughout the hike. Was unable to finish the final mile due the snow getting deep. Reached it and turned around at the advice of another hiker that stated the snow gets deep and would require mini spikes and more equipment.

hiking
27 days ago

I was there June 6th with friends. The trailhead was far away and the road to the trailhead has some potholes and some fallen trees but you can still get to the trailhead. We could not make it all The way up to the viewpoint as there was too much snow and we could not find the trail. Snow was mostly last mile of the hike. This hike would be great in August I think

hiking
1 month ago

Climbed last summer (2019), one of the best full day hikes I have done in a National Park! Stunning vistas

hiking
closed
snow
1 month ago

Road is cleared of debris and snow. It is steep and rutted but easily passable with 4-wheel drive. We did the first 3 miles of the trail and turned back due to time constraints. There were patches of snow in the first few miles that were well packed and easy to walk on.

hiking
bridge out
closed
snow
1 month ago

avalanche downed a good portion of the trail and crossing the snow (which has water under it) is very dangerous, so had to turn back, not to mention the old 2-3feet of snow everywhere, wasn't much of a hike. closed for a reason..

hiking
snow
2 months ago

There are some downed trees ~2 miles from the trailhead. The added mileage (due to the downed trees) and a late start (got to the effective trailhead ~9:45am) prevented me from being able to finish the trail. I am unsure where the, "nicely groomed ski trails," review is coming from? Based on the accompanying recording that review is for a different trail that is in Minnesota. Do not count on there being neat or maintained ski trails here. I will try this hike again in a couple months probably. Hoping by that time road maintenance has been taken care of.

skiing
4 months ago

Easy to intermediate ski trails nicely groomed for classic skiing. There are also some skate trails. Trail markings are somewhat confusing if you don't know the area.

hiking
icy
rocky
7 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

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
7 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
8 months ago

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
8 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.

hiking
9 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
10 months ago

Road to trailhead had some big dips but manageable. The hike just to Thornton lake was longer that AllTrails posted. We did the hike up to trapers peak first which was one of our favorite views. Then we did the hike down to Thornton. If you only did the hike to Thornton it would be a long ways for a lake view that you could get on a separate trail for less distance so I highly recommend doing trappers peak

hiking
muddy
10 months ago

Tbh not a fun hike. The view is rewarding, but it’s definitely not an 8 mile hike. More like 11 and vertical both ways. Tiny steep switchbacks, mud, and you’re in the trees most of the time so the only reward is the view at the top. It’s also up a SUPER steep dirt road. I barely made it, so I wouldn’t recommend without 4WD or at least all terrain tires.

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