Diablo Lake Trail In Washington

Here is everything you need to know about the Diablo Lake Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Washington
  • Length: 3.8 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: North Cascades National Park Service
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Diablo Lake Trail, located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington state, holds a significant historical background. The trail was originally established by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The CCC was a public work relief program that aimed to provide employment to young, unemployed men while also conserving and developing natural resources across the United States.

The construction of the Diablo Lake Trail was part of the CCC’s efforts to develop recreational facilities and infrastructure within the North Cascades National Park. The trail was designed to provide visitors with access to the stunning Diablo Lake, which was formed by the Diablo Dam on the Skagit River. The CCC workers meticulously carved out the trail, navigating through the rugged terrain and dense forests, to create a scenic pathway for hikers to enjoy the beauty of the area.

Over the years, the Diablo Lake Trail has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering breathtaking views of the turquoise waters of Diablo Lake, surrounded by the majestic peaks of the North Cascades. The trail showcases the rich history of the CCC’s conservation efforts and their contribution to the development of recreational opportunities in the region. Today, hikers can still experience the legacy of the CCC as they traverse the Diablo Lake Trail, immersing themselves in the natural beauty and historical significance of this remarkable area.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Diablo Lake Overlook: This is the starting point of the Diablo Lake Trail. It offers stunning views of the turquoise Diablo Lake and surrounding mountains.

2. Colonial Creek Campground: Located near the Diablo Lake Overlook, this campground serves as a trailhead for the Diablo Lake Trail. It provides parking facilities and access to the trail.

3. Thunder Knob Trailhead: This trailhead is located about 1.5 miles from the Diablo Lake Overlook. It offers an alternative starting point for the Diablo Lake Trail and provides parking facilities.

4. Ross Dam Trailhead: Situated near the Ross Dam, this trailhead provides access to the Diablo Lake Trail. It is located approximately 6 miles from the Diablo Lake Overlook.

5. North Cascades Environmental Learning Center: This center serves as a trailhead for the Diablo Lake Trail. It is located about 8 miles from the Diablo Lake Overlook and offers parking facilities.

6. Happy Creek Trailhead: Located approximately 10 miles from the Diablo Lake Overlook, this trailhead provides access to the Diablo Lake Trail. It offers parking facilities and is a popular starting point for longer hikes.

7. Pyramid Lake Trailhead: Situated about 12 miles from the Diablo Lake Overlook, this trailhead serves as an access point for the Diablo Lake Trail. It provides parking facilities and is a starting point for various hiking routes.

8. Sourdough Mountain Trailhead: This trailhead is located approximately 15 miles from the Diablo Lake Overlook. It offers parking facilities and serves as an access point for the Diablo Lake Trail.

Note: The distances mentioned are approximate and may vary depending on the specific route taken.

Transportation Available

1. Diablo Lake Ferry – A scenic ferry service that offers transportation across Diablo Lake.
2. Diablo Lake Water Taxi – A convenient water taxi service for quick transportation to various points around Diablo Lake.
3. Diablo Lake Shuttle – A shuttle service that provides transportation to and from the Diablo Lake Trailhead.
4. Diablo Lake Kayak Rentals – Rent kayaks for self-guided exploration of Diablo Lake and surrounding areas.
5. Diablo Lake Helicopter Tours – Experience breathtaking aerial views of Diablo Lake and its surroundings with helicopter tours.
6. Diablo Lake Bike Rentals – Rent bikes to explore the Diablo Lake Trail and nearby areas at your own pace.
7. Diablo Lake Horseback Riding – Enjoy guided horseback riding tours around Diablo Lake and its scenic trails.
8. Diablo Lake RV Rentals – Rent RVs for a comfortable and convenient way to explore Diablo Lake and its surroundings.
9. Diablo Lake Car Rental – Rent a car for flexible transportation options around Diablo Lake and nearby attractions.
10. Diablo Lake Taxi Service – A reliable taxi service for convenient transportation to and from Diablo Lake and its trail.


The Diablo Lake Trail, located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington state, offers several amenities for visitors. Some of the amenities available at the Diablo Lake Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at the trailhead or nearby visitor centers. These restrooms may include flush toilets or pit toilets.

2. Parking: There is a parking area available at the trailhead or designated parking lots nearby. Visitors can park their vehicles and access the trail easily.

3. Camping Sites: While there are no camping sites directly on the Diablo Lake Trail, there are several campgrounds available in the North Cascades National Park. Some popular campgrounds in the vicinity include Colonial Creek Campground, Newhalem Creek Campground, and Goodell Creek Campground.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the Diablo Lake Trail or in the nearby vicinity. These areas provide picnic tables, benches, and sometimes even grills for visitors to enjoy a meal or snack amidst the beautiful surroundings.

5. Interpretive Signs: Along the trail, you may find interpretive signs that provide information about the natural and cultural history of the area. These signs offer educational opportunities for visitors to learn more about the ecosystem and its significance.

6. Scenic Overlooks: The Diablo Lake Trail offers stunning views of Diablo Lake and the surrounding mountains. There are designated scenic overlooks or viewpoints along the trail where visitors can stop, rest, and take in the breathtaking scenery.

7. Information Boards: At the trailhead or visitor centers, you may find information boards that provide details about the trail, safety guidelines, and any current alerts or closures.

It’s always a good idea to check with the North Cascades National Park or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on amenities and facilities available at the Diablo Lake Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Diablo Lake Resort – Lakeside lodging with stunning views of Diablo Lake.
2. North Cascades Environmental Learning Center – Accommodations and dining options near the trail, offering educational programs.
3. Colonial Creek Campground – Campground with tent and RV sites, located near the trailhead.
4. Ross Lake Resort – Floating cabins and boat rentals on Ross Lake, accessible via the trail.
5. Gorge Lake Campground – Campground with scenic views, close to the trail.
6. Marblemount Diner – Casual dining spot serving American comfort food, located near the trail.
7. Cascadian Farm Organic – Farm stand offering organic produce and ice cream, a short drive from the trail.
8. Marblemount Wilderness Information Center – Nearby visitor center providing information and emergency services for the area.

Diablo Lake Trail Difficulty Notes

The Diablo Lake Trail, located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington state, offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers. The trail spans approximately 7.6 miles round trip and features a gradual elevation gain of around 1,300 feet. While the trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, hikers should be prepared for some rocky sections and uneven terrain. The trail also includes a few steep sections, particularly towards the end, which may require some scrambling. However, the breathtaking views of Diablo Lake and the surrounding mountains make the effort well worth it. Overall, the Diablo Lake Trail is a rewarding hike that is suitable for moderately experienced hikers looking for a scenic adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Diablo Lake Trail is located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington state. Along this trail, you can find several scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Diablo Lake Trail:

1. Diablo Lake: The trail starts near Diablo Lake, a stunning turquoise reservoir surrounded by mountains. The lake offers breathtaking views and is a popular spot for kayaking, fishing, and boating.

2. Ross Dam: As you hike along the trail, you’ll come across Ross Dam, a massive concrete dam that holds back the waters of Diablo Lake. The dam offers a unique sight and is an engineering marvel.

3. Thunder Knob Trail: A short side trail from the Diablo Lake Trail leads to Thunder Knob, a viewpoint that offers panoramic views of Diablo Lake and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great spot to take in the beauty of the area.

4. Colonial Creek Campground: Located near the trailhead, Colonial Creek Campground is a picturesque camping spot nestled among old-growth forests. It’s a great place to spend the night and explore the area.

5. North Cascades Visitor Center: Before starting your hike, you can visit the North Cascades Visitor Center, which provides information about the park’s geology, wildlife, and history. It’s a great place to learn more about the area.

6. Diablo Lake Overlook: Along the trail, you’ll reach a viewpoint that offers stunning vistas of Diablo Lake and the surrounding peaks. This is a perfect spot to take a break and enjoy the scenery.

7. Old-Growth Forests: The Diablo Lake Trail takes you through beautiful old-growth forests, where you can see towering trees, lush vegetation, and a variety of wildlife. It’s a peaceful and serene environment.

8. Wildlife: The North Cascades National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. While hiking the Diablo Lake Trail, you may encounter animals such as black bears, deer, mountain goats, and various bird species.

9. Waterfalls: The trail passes by several small waterfalls, adding to the scenic beauty of the area. These cascades create a soothing atmosphere and provide great photo opportunities.

10. Historical Significance: The area around Diablo Lake has historical significance, as it was once inhabited by indigenous tribes. Exploring the trail allows you to connect with the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Remember to check the trail conditions and obtain any necessary permits before embarking on your hike. Enjoy the stunning views and natural wonders along the Diablo Lake Trail!

Usage Guidelines

– Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.
– Camping is not allowed along the trail.
– Fires are prohibited.
– Hunting or trapping is not permitted.
– Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
– Stay on designated trails and do not create new paths.
– Do not disturb or remove any plants, animals, or natural features.
– Fishing is allowed, but make sure to follow state fishing regulations.
– Swimming or wading in Diablo Lake is not recommended due to strong currents and cold temperatures.
– Respect seasonal closures or restrictions, if any are in place.
– Pack out all trash and leave no trace of your visit.
– Be aware of and respectful towards other hikers and visitors on the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Diablo Lake Trail, located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington state, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lush forests, and the stunning turquoise waters of Diablo Lake. While the trail is accessible year-round, the best times to visit depend on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in.

Summer, from June to September, is the most popular time to visit the Diablo Lake Trail. During this period, the weather is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 27 degrees Celsius). The trail is usually snow-free, allowing hikers to fully explore its 7.6-mile (12.2-kilometer) length. The summer months also offer the opportunity to witness the vibrant wildflowers in bloom, adding a splash of color to the already picturesque landscape. Additionally, the longer daylight hours provide ample time to enjoy the trail and take in the stunning vistas.

However, it’s important to note that the Diablo Lake Trail can get crowded during the summer months, especially on weekends. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring or fall. Spring, from April to May, brings cooler temperatures and occasional rain showers, but rewards visitors with lush greenery and cascading waterfalls. Fall, from September to October, offers stunning foliage as the leaves change color, creating a picturesque backdrop for your hike.

It’s worth mentioning that the Diablo Lake Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to weather conditions. During winter, from November to March, the trail can be covered in snow and ice, making it challenging and potentially dangerous to navigate without proper equipment and experience. It’s advisable to check with the North Cascades National Park Service for the latest trail conditions and closures before planning your visit.

Regardless of the season you choose, the Diablo Lake Trail promises awe-inspiring views and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the North Cascades. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual nature enthusiast, this trail offers a memorable experience throughout the year.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Diablo Lake Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its steep and uneven terrain, making it challenging for individuals using wheelchairs.
2. ADA Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available at the trailhead, providing convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are located at the trailhead, ensuring that individuals with disabilities have suitable facilities.
4. Trail Surface: The trail surface is primarily composed of compacted dirt and gravel, which may pose difficulties for individuals using wheelchairs or mobility aids.
5. Trail Width: The trail width varies throughout the Diablo Lake Trail, with some sections being narrower and potentially limiting maneuverability for individuals with mobility challenges.
6. Trail Grade: The trail features steep sections and uneven terrain, making it unsuitable for wheelchair users or individuals with limited mobility.
7. Rest Areas: There are several rest areas along the trail, providing opportunities for individuals to take breaks and enjoy the scenery.
8. Benches: Benches are available at various points along the trail, offering resting spots for individuals with mobility limitations.
9. Assistance Animals: Service animals are permitted on the Diablo Lake Trail to assist individuals with disabilities.
10. Informational Signage: The trail features informational signage with braille and large print options, ensuring accessibility for individuals with visual impairments.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: Moderate – The Diablo Lake Trail is moderately challenging, with some steep sections and uneven terrain.
2. Weather Conditions: Check the forecast before heading out – Weather conditions can change rapidly, so it’s important to be prepared for rain, wind, or sudden temperature drops.
3. Trail Length: 7.6 miles round trip – The trail is approximately 7.6 miles long, so plan your time accordingly.
4. Trailhead Access: Easy access from Highway 20 – The trailhead is conveniently located off Highway 20, making it easily accessible.
5. Trail Markings: Well-marked trail – The trail is well-marked with signs and markers, making navigation relatively straightforward.
6. Wildlife Encounters: Be cautious of wildlife – Keep an eye out for wildlife such as bears or mountain goats and maintain a safe distance if encountered.
7. Water Sources: Bring enough water – There are limited water sources along the trail, so ensure you carry an adequate supply.
8. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen and a hat – The trail offers limited shade, so protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
9. Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking shoes – Due to the uneven terrain, it is recommended to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots for better stability.
10. Bug Repellent: Use bug repellent – Mosquitoes and other insects can be present, so using bug repellent is advisable.
11. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit and emergency supplies – It’s always wise to be prepared for emergencies by carrying a first aid kit and essential supplies.
12. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles – Respect the environment by packing out all trash and minimizing your impact on the trail.
13. Hiking in Groups: Consider hiking with others – Hiking in groups enhances safety and provides assistance if needed.
14. Trail Conditions: Check for trail updates – Before embarking on the Diablo Lake Trail, check for any trail closures or updates to ensure a smooth hiking experience.
15. Cell Phone Reception: Limited cell phone reception – Be aware that cell phone reception may be limited or nonexistent along the trail, so plan accordingly.

Conservation Notes

The Diablo Lake Trail, located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington, is a popular hiking destination known for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the vibrant turquoise waters of Diablo Lake. In terms of conservation status, the trail falls within a protected area, ensuring the preservation of its natural beauty and ecological integrity.

As part of the North Cascades National Park, the Diablo Lake Trail is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) with the primary goal of conserving the park’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity. The NPS employs various conservation strategies to maintain the trail’s ecological balance, including monitoring and managing visitor impacts, protecting sensitive habitats, and promoting sustainable recreational activities.

The conservation efforts on the Diablo Lake Trail also extend to the preservation of wildlife. The trail provides habitat for a diverse range of species, including black bears, mountain goats, and various bird species. The NPS works to minimize disturbances to wildlife by implementing regulations such as leash requirements for pets and designated camping areas. These measures help protect the natural habitats and ensure the long-term survival of the wildlife populations in the area.

Overall, the conservation status of the Diablo Lake Trail is considered favorable due to its inclusion within the North Cascades National Park. The NPS’s commitment to preserving the park’s natural resources and promoting sustainable practices ensures that future generations can continue to enjoy the trail’s beauty while safeguarding its ecological integrity.

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